Opinion: Reframe gun violence as preventable disease

When tackling gun violence, American cities should view it through a public health lens, according to Dean Michelle Williams of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She co-authored an op-ed on the topic with Mary Bassett, director of the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University and former commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

In the July 29, 2019 Los Angeles Times, they wrote that taking a public health approach to gun violence could involve investing more money in prevention programs, such as “focused deterrence” models that foster direct communication between police, gang members, and community members. In addition, individuals can contribute by fighting back against misrepresentations of gun violence victims and perpetrators in the media, and supporting organizations that work with high-risk residents.

“As public health educators and researchers, we firmly believe there is no disease we cannot cure, gun violence included,” they wrote. “Before we read about the next spate of gun violence, let each of us commit to new ways to combat this unacceptable contagion.”

Read the Los Angeles Times op-ed: How do we reduce gun violence? By treating it like a disease

Learn more

U.S. gun deaths disproportionately high (Harvard Chan School news)

Gun violence: perspectives from the emergency room and public health (Harvard Chan School podcast)