This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Getting Going on Gun Violence as a Public Health Issue

Guns and gun violence have been big political and social issues in the US for a long time, but now a new report from the National Research Council has laid out a research agenda to deal with the public health issue of guns--who is being injured/killed and why and what we can do about that? This is a complicated issue, as it turns out, but more complicated than it might otherwise be because of the fact that Congress had suppressed research in this area for a long time.

The report stems from executive orders issued by President Obama in January 2013 directing federal agencies to improve knowledge of the causes of firearm violence, interventions that might prevent it, and strategies to minimize its public health burden. One of these executive orders charged the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with identifying the most pressing firearm-related violence research needs. In turn, CDC and the CDC Foundation asked IOM and the Research Council to recommend a research agenda on the public health aspects of firearm-related violence. The committee determined potential research topics by surveying previous relevant research, receiving public input, and using expert judgment.

With any luck, the focus on health instead of constitutional rights will help direct attention to what is really going on. As I have noted before, survey data do show that gun violence is declining even as gun ownership has increased and this seems to be mainly due to the paradox of fewer people owning guns, but those who do own guns own more than ever. This is a sad bifurcation of American society and anything that can be done to bring common sense to the issue will be very welcome.


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