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UMMS public health experts call for gun control actions like those taken against vaping

Editorial asks, ‘Can we do for gun control what we are doing to control the vaping epidemic?’

By Sandra Gray

UMass Medical School Communications

December 11, 2019

An editorial in the journal Medical Care by UMass Medical School public health experts calls for legislators and policymakers to take bold action on gun control, similar to the recent ban in Massachusetts on vaping products in response to lung illnesses in vaping device and e-cigarette users.

“The rapid response by the public health community and several state legislatures to the highly morbid and fatal public health emergency associated with vaping is in stark contrast to that of the well-established and senseless epidemic that continues to worsen despite increasing calls by the general public, especially by young people, for Congress to act on a number and variety of bills that have been put forward over the past several years to stop gun related deaths,” the authors wrote.

“We know the direct cause(s) of gun related violence, in contrast to that of vaping related illnesses, but we still refuse to act on this knowledge leading to needless deaths at the hands of guns.”

Co-authors are Robert Goldberg, PhD, professor emeritus of population & quantitative health sciences; Michael Hirsh, MD, professor of surgery and pediatrics; Kate Lapane, PhD, professor of population & quantitative health sciences; and Stephenie Lemon, PhD, professor of population & quantitative health sciences. Dr. Hirsh established the Worcester Injury Free Coalition for Kids and established the city’s annual Goods for Guns buyback program.

“The evidence is in front of our collective noses about our need for action on gun control. The research that we do need, however, is about providing insights into which population-based interventions could be designed and delivered to prevent gun-related violence and alter the trajectory of gun related deaths in the U.S.,” they concluded.

They enumerate specific recommendations, including researching the effects of more aggressive counseling by health care providers to remove guns from homes, passage of red flag laws and more enforceable background checks to halt gun sales to dangerous individuals.

The full editorial was published online ahead of print by Medical Care, the journal of the medical care section of the American Public Health Association.

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