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Yesterday, marked the three-year anniversary of weekly demonstrations led by a group called We the People for Sensible Gun Laws.  The group meets every Monday in front of the White House, holding signs displaying the names of victims of gun violence and demanding sensible gun laws.
In honor of the group’s third anniversary, the District’s Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes- Norton and Mayor Muriel Bowser joined the rally.
“You would think that after the Charleston nine …, you would think after the Louisiana shooting, where a deeply troubled man got a gun, you could at least get the background checks,” lamented Congresswoman Norton. “I am here to tell you that although the background check bill has been introduced in the House it hasn’t even been introduced in the Senate.”
Then her tone changed. She reminded the crowd that laws change in response to committed activism.
“What that really tells us is that the kind of dedication you are showing is what our side needs to show. If 90% of American people are for the background check law, there is no good reason why we shouldn’t have that law. We know the gun violence we could have prevented.”
Sadly we know too well. There have been 204 mass shootings — and 204 days — in 2015 so far.
***Note: 204 refers only to mass shootings – defined as an event that results in the shooting of four or more people.   The numbers are significantly higher when accounting for total gun violence in this country since January 2015.***
The Congresswoman’s words were reenergizing. Changing American culture, perception and tolerance is a marathon. As we gear up for the next election cycle, the public health community needs to demand candidates who recognize a leading cause of death among young people (second only to car accidents) for what it truly is: an epidemic.
Gun violence is one of the biggest public health threats facing the United States today. IMG_4793
After each shooting, President Obama reminds us that the biggest “frustration” of his presidency is his failure to enact common sense gun legislation in this country.
We must send a message to the 2016 candidates that failing to address systemic gun violence is not a frustration, it is a crisis. And it is preventable. This past April, the Annals of Internal Medicine published Firearm-Related Injury and Death in the United States: A Call to Action From 8 Health Professional Organizations and the American Bar Association. The public health community must rally to champion this call to action in order to let our candidates know that it’s time to end “frustration” over gun violence.