Professor Of Health Policy And Management, Johns Hopkins University
- Gun violence is an epidemic that harms global health and has many variables such as substance use, mental health, proximity to other violence, and others, which contribute to firearm violence.
- Effective interventions to reducing gun violence include practicing firearm safety and gun storage.
In the review, “Epidemiologic Evidence to Guide the Understanding and Prevention of Gun Violence,” Webster and his co-authors examine gun violence and gun violence prevention. The authors argue that firearms have negatively impacted global health by being used in many types of violence that can inflict self-harm and harm entire countries. The authors note that countries, like the United States, that have high gun ownership rates are positively associated with a higher risk of suicide at a household and state-level. Although this relationship is not causal, the authors turned to previous research on the topic that noted depression and substance use as other factors that may impact gun violence. Key findings from other research shows that although there seems to be a strong relationship between substance use and gun violence, there are issues in determining the directional relationships (whether gun violence is a result of substance use or substance use contributes to gun violence.) The authors note that in the United States, there are no laws in place to disqualify individuals with substance use disorders from purchasing firearms and that those laws are necessary. At this time, little data is available on successes of interventions attempting to reduce the effect of substance use on gun use. In addition to substance use, there are other factors that influence gun violence such as growing up in a violent household, violence in intimate partner relations, neighborhood gang affiliation and more. The authors also looked at research showing success in interventions to reduce gun violence. Some studies showed that clinicians who administered firearm safety to their patients showed effectiveness in increasing safe gun use. Another study found that interventions that focused on safe gun storage also decreased gun violence. In conclusion, the authors note that more research-guided policy interventions should be put in place to decrease gun violence.