Confronting our gun violence epidemic

Gun violence is a public health, and political, crisis
President Martha Baker, RN

Just weeks after back-to-back mass shootings in Gilroy, El Paso, and Dayton, yet another shooting rampage – this time on a highway in Texas – claimed the lives of seven people and injured dozens more. The youngest was a 17-month-old baby who had to have shrapnel removed from her face and chest.

Over that same period, thousands more Americans in every state died of “routine” gun violence and suicides caused by guns.

At Jackson Ryder Trauma Center, we are all too familiar with our country’s never-ending gun tragedy: we averaged one gunshot patient per day in 2018. Canadian surgeons train here because they don’t see enough gunshot wounds at home to get experience.

We know gun violence is a public health epidemic; less attention is paid to the fact that it’s one disproportionately impacting communities of color. A 2017 study found that while black people are about 19 percent of Miami-Dade’s population, black males represent over 70 percent of Jackson gunshot victims.

Our gun problem at its heart is a political crisis. The NRA and Republican leaders have held our country hostage by blocking even basic reforms – like universal background checks – that a broad majority of Americans support. We already know the most recent Texas shooter bought his gun in a private sale after failing a background check.

Jackson trauma surgeon Dr. Tanya Zakrison told NPR, “there’s nothing normal about a 14-year-old – or anyone – getting shot.” We have normalized the unthinkable. Americans will continue to die until we have political leadership ready to act.

Are you interested in getting involved with the gun safety movement in South Florida? Check out Everytown for resources and to find upcoming local events.