The Huge Public Health Crisis That No One’s Talking About

America is in the midst of a full-blown public health crisis.

Around 282 people every day - over 32,000 people every year - are dying from a totally preventable cause.

This totally preventable cause, by the way, just isn’t a problem in most other developed nations.

They’ve either eliminated it altogether or responded to previous outbreaks in such a way as to make future ones rarer and much less deadly than the ones we have here.

I’m talking, of course, about gun violence.

Yes, that’s right, gun violence.

It’s not something that most people think about when they think about America’s biggest public health crises -- they usually think of cancer, heart disease, or drug addiction -- but that’s exactly what gun violence is: a public health crisis.

It’s a public health crisis because it’s an ongoing and substantial threat to the safety of the citizens of this country.

No one, I repeat no one, is safe, at least not with the NRA out there spending millions of dollars every election cycle to make sure weapons of war stay on our streets.

And that raises a really important point: we know what the problem is when it comes to gun violence.

The problem is that it there are too many guns in too many hands.

So the logical thing to do would be something like what we did when Ralph Nader revealed that shoddy automobile manufacturing was causing deadly car crashes or when scientists revealed that cigarettes were causing cancer: get real scientific information on the problem and then pass laws, informed by that science, that eliminate the problem at its root cause.

When it comes to gun violence, this would mean passing laws that make it much harder to buy and sell guns of any kind, especially assault rifles and other weapons of war that have no business being in the hands of private civilians.

This isn’t really up for debate.

The NRA can pump out whatever “good guys with guns” propaganda it wants, but the fact of the matter is that Americas are safer with fewer, not more guns, on the streets.

The latest proof of this comes out of Missouri, which in 2007 repealed some of its most important gun control laws, including universal background checks.

According to a new study from Johns Hopkins University, this caused a 16 percent jump in the Show Me State’s gun homicide rate.

Missouri was always a violent place -- its gun homicide rate was actually 13.8 percent higher than the national average before the 2007 repeal -- but doing away with common sense things like background checks made things much, much worse.

Between 2008 and 2014, the first eight years after repeal of their control laws, Missouri’s gun homicide rate was 47 percent -- yes, 47 percent -- higher than the national average.

It's a pretty straightforward equation: more freely available guns equals more gun deaths - and fewer freely available guns equals fewer guns deaths.


End of story.

Which raises the question: if gun violence caused by easy access to guns is such an obvious public health problem with such an obvious solution, why doesn’t our government treat it like one?

The answer to that question has a one-word answer - Republicans.

Believe it or not, it’s actually illegal for the Centers of Disease Control to conduct any research whatsoever into the impact of gun control on public health.

That's right -- illegal!

This is all thanks to former Arizona Republican Congressman Jay Dickey, who in 1996 pushed for and helped pass an NRA-backed law that bans government research into the relationship between gun ownership and public health.

This law is now called the Dickey Amendment after its creator, and, outside of NRA money, it’s one of the biggest roadblocks in the way of our having a sensible gun control policy in this country.

Even Jay Dickey thinks so, which is why he now opposes the law he once helped create [[]]

This is just insanity.

The government -- the institution we trust with our safety -- shouldn’t be prevented from researching a major public health problem just because that research could make a profitable business look bad.

We wouldn’t give the auto industry or the tobacco industry that kind of exemption, and we shouldn’t give it to the gun industry either.

It’s time to repeal the Dickey Amendment and starting treating gun violence like what it is: one of America’s biggest public health crises.


cccccttttt 8 years 25 weeks ago

Great work in keeping the public attention on daily US gun violence.

My question:

"why can the gun lobby afford to buy their senators, but we can

not raise the money to buy our senators?"

Until sufficient bribe money is amassed, this nashing of teeth

for the daily carnage will go on for decades.


Hephaestus's picture
Hephaestus 8 years 25 weeks ago

Americans are so barmy about their guns

Could it be a sexuaL thingy???

Please realise that there was no standing army when the amendment was drafted BECUASE THERE WAS NO STANDING ARMY

The country needed to defend itself against local fighters and those trying to oppose freedom... the brits, french and them were trying to get control

Therfore, the constitution allowed citizens to carry guns as a way to defend the young country against any foe... because THERE WAS NO STANDING ARMY


America has a fine standing Army


RLTOWNSLEY's picture
RLTOWNSLEY 8 years 25 weeks ago

But we already have the best government that money can buy, we wouldn't want our elected officials ignoring a long established American tradition. Though, I seriously doubt that there's any danger of that occurring !

Hephaestus's picture
Hephaestus 8 years 25 weeks ago

Sorry! cccccttttt

If you think that senators need to be bought then that idea needs to be looked at again

Senators bought do not represent people

The concept is corrupt

Hephaestus's picture
Hephaestus 8 years 25 weeks ago


Strange that you think you have the best government "money can buy"

Is that a fascist approach?

RLTOWNSLEY's picture
RLTOWNSLEY 8 years 25 weeks ago

Hephaestus; The Posse Comitatus Act enacted into law on June 18, 1878 limited the powers of the Federal Government in using Federal Military Personnel to enforce domestic policies within U.S. Borders, backlash from an earlier deadly civil war within U.S. Borders . It forbid any future internal deployment of the U.S. Military by the Federal Government. Over recent years elements of the government have found a way around this law by using tax payer money to arm local police with military grade weapons and provide them with training in military style tactics that were developed to engage aggressive foreign armies on distant battlefields. In short there is still no standing Army to protect us !

Ginny C in CO 8 years 25 weeks ago

Thanks for another salvo on this Thom. Have you heard of this guy? Daniel Webster, Professor of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research,examines some surprisingly hopeful possibilities that exist for a controversial public policy conundrum that seems to have no universally acceptable answer.

There's a short intro at the link and then links to his TEDMED talk and other stuff. It is what research could do for this cause of so many horrible tragedies. Guest interview?

There's the link of gun ownership to angry people.

The suicide link should be helped with more people on ACA, but there's still a big gap and it puts those people at more risk with no health or psych care.

I just ran across this a couple of days ago. Historical Bases of the Right To Keep and Bear Arms "In contrast to these rights, the right to keep and bear arms can claim an ancestry stretching for well over a millennium. The antiquity of the right is so great that it is all but impossible to document its actual beginning. " Info at the top: [ Originally published as Report of the Subcommittee on the Constitution of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, 97th Cong., 2d Sess., The Right to Keep and Bear Arms, 45-67 (1982) ("Other Views"). Reproduced in the 1982 Senate Report, pg. 45-67.]

In 1776, America was a bunch of English colonies. The Framers were well versed in English law. The other rights the author contrasted to are those of the other amendments that were not well established in English or European law at the time. So the 9th and 10th protect the individual right to keep and bear arms. (I have a mental imagery of interviewing the Framers, asking why they didn't put one in for personal ownership, and receiving looks of derision.)

Finally, words are inadequate to convey how grateful I am you stuck with Bernie for so long on the Friday brunches. I'm ADD, couple of interesting dots.

Considering Margaret Mead's quote about a small group of determined people are the only thing that has ever changed the world, the second link is to research on what it takes in numbers to get a movement to spread like a flame. The first number needed for spreading Bernie's support is essentially 10% percent of the registered voters needed to vote for Bernie in the primaries. Many can still register and my back of the envelope calculations suggest we have already hit that 10%. Especially because of the Millennials. They have hit 77 million, now out numbering the boomers. They're on tech. Most are left leaning Independents and combined with registered Dems, out number the cons 3:1. Many have not been registered - some because this will be the first race they are eligible. The polls, from what I have been seeing, are still not calling cell phones. I am assuming because there still are no phone books for them. I can't get reliable cell reception in my apartment. I need it when I'm out and have a landline at home. 3 polls so far on the landline, none on the cell.

Thanks again. Virginia Cotts Lakewood, CO

Hephaestus's picture
Hephaestus 8 years 25 weeks ago

Sorry RL! The concept I have in my mind is about the obsession with gun ownership that connects its notion with the 2nd amendment to bear arms

The 2nd amendment was drafted to protect against external invasion without the existence of a standing army

America now has a HUGE standing army

Hephaestus's picture
Hephaestus 8 years 25 weeks ago

Sorry! I have to state that Americans are drug induced hooked on GUNS

They will have to go through very heavy withdrawal symptoms to get away from them

You will benefit no end when you are able

John_mulkins123's picture
John_mulkins123 8 years 25 weeks ago

When Americans exercise meaningful democratic power OVER their government our gun laws will reflect majority will. VOTE. Demand a national referendum on this issue now. 

(See example 8.)

John_mulkins123's picture
John_mulkins123 8 years 25 weeks ago

Thank you

nradonic's picture
nradonic 8 years 25 weeks ago


I think the number is 'only' 82 per day.


mathboy's picture
mathboy 8 years 25 weeks ago

Nice to see another Coloradan here, Ginny. Especially one in the Denver area.

mjolnir's picture
mjolnir 8 years 25 weeks ago

The mid-page graph here:

illustrates the "cherry picking" involved with this study:

'"While it is true that the murder rate in Missouri rose 17 percent relative to the rest of the U.S. in the five years after 2007, it had actually increased by 32 percent during the previous five years," author John R. Lott wrote. "The question is why the Missouri murder rate was increasing relative to the rest of the United States at a slower rate after the change in the law than it did prior to it."'

bagel's picture
bagel 8 years 25 weeks ago

Here's one more to add to the list of people killed by police in 2015. This time it was a friend of a friend of mine, whose name was Will Raff. He was reportedly coming off of psych meds and the police were called when he started acting erratically at the halfway house where he was staying, on Christmas Day. Apparently he was such a threat, because he was holding a butter knife, that when the Palo Alto Police arrived, they shot him 6 times in the chest.

R.I.P., Will.

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