Dr. Anthony Fauci contended Sunday that the surge of gun violence in the United States is a “public health issue.”
The top White House coronavirus adviser was responding to Dana Bash, host of CNN’s “State of the Union,” who asked if the “epidemic” of gun violence is a public health emergency.
“Myself, as a public health person, I think you can’t run away from that,” Fauci replied.
“When you see people getting killed, I mean, in this last month it’s just been horrifying what’s happened,” he said. “How can you say that’s not a public health issue?”
See Fauci’s remarks:
Dr. Anthony Fauci on whether he considers gun violence a public health emergency: “When you see people getting killed, I mean, in this last month, it’s just been horrifying what’s happened. How can you say that’s not a public health issue?” #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/9lEhV3aZqL
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) April 18, 2021
Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado reacted, asking, “Why is Dr. Fauci commenting on ‘gun violence’ at all?
“Shouldn’t he stick to what he knows … once he finds out what exactly that is?” she asked on Twitter.
Boebert owns Shooters Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, where staff members are encouraged to openly carry firearms.
Political and cultural analyst Ben Shapiro tweeted: “Fauci says that gun violence is a public health problem. Because when you are a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”
Pulling the trigger ’causes health problems’
Dr. Megan Ranney, associate professor of emergency medicine at Brown University, contends gun violence should be regarded as a public health issue on par with the coronavirus pandemic.
She told Healthline the reason it is not is partly due to “the fact that gun violence is framed as a ‘political or criminal justice problem.’”
“The forgotten underlying issue is when someone pulls the trigger, it causes health problems — the pulling of a trigger is no different than someone eating unhealthily or using substances or driving without a seatbelt on,” said Ranney.
But Paul Hsieh, a physician and co-founder of Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine, argued in a column for Forbes that murder, unlike measles and influenza, is not a medical disease.
“Like many physicians, I’ve seen numerous unfortunate gun-related injuries and deaths over the years. I understand the perspective of fellow physicians who are appalled by gun violence,” he wrote.
Hsieh acknowledged that the American College of Physicians has stated in a policy paper, “Firearm violence is not only a criminal justice issue but also a public health threat.”
But Hsieh argues:
- “Gun violence is not an ‘epidemic,’ except in a metaphorical sense.”
- “If ‘public health’ includes ‘gun violence,’ then intellectual fairness demands that we consider pro-gun arguments as well as anti-gun arguments.”
- “Expanding ‘public health’ to include ‘gun violence’ diverts us from genuine public health threats.”
- “Guns are not the doctor’s ‘natural enemy’”
The physician concluded: “The debate over gun rights vs. gun control is definitely a public policy issue. But it’s not a ‘public health’ issue. Those trying to make it one are muddying the waters for political purposes and are doing a disservice to Americans in the face of our many real public health concerns.”
Democrats’ gun-control push
Fauci’s comments come as Democrats press for sweeping gun control measures. The Democratic-majority House passed two bills in March that would expand background checks. The legislation faces opposition in the 50-50 Senate, where it would need the support of 60 senators.
Since March 16, at least 45 mass shootings has been recorded in the U.S., according to CNN reporting and an analysis of data from the Gun Violence Archive, local media and police reports. A mass shooting is regarded as an incident in which four or more people, excluding the gunman, are wounded or killed by gunfire.
Last Friday at the White House, after at least eight people were killed in a shooting at an Indianapolis FedEx facility, President Biden called the recent spate “a national embarrassment.”
Biden has signed six executive orders related to gun-control and nominiated an anti-gun campaigner to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.
“There’s no reason someone needs a weapon of war with 100 rounds, 100 bullets, that can be fired from that weapon,” Biden said while announcing the executive orders. “Nobody needs that.”
On Friday, Biden urged Republicans in Congress to act.
“Who in God’s name needs a weapon that can hold 100 rounds, or 40 rounds or 20 rounds,” he asked. “It’s just wrong, and I’m not going to give up until it’s done.”
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