Violence and Public and Personal Health: Gun Violence
Written permission from the American Academy of Family Physicians is required for reproduction of this material in whole or in part in any form or medium. The rate of death due to guns is higher in the United States than in other high-income countries. More than 200 Americans are murdered or assaulted with a firearm daily. In the United States, more than 300,000 individuals have died from firearm injuries in the past decade. Firearm injuries cost more than $3 billion per year, and deaths from guns cause more than $20 billion in lifetime work loss and medical costs. Risk factors for being a perpetrator of gun violence include a personal history of or exposure to individuals with violent tendencies, untreated mental disorders, substance abuse, and access to weapons. Physicians can screen patients for risk of firearm-related injury and share strategies to prevent injury and death in the home. Health care-based interventions may increase rates of safe storage of firearms for high-risk groups. Standardized protocols can assist with responses to violent threats in the medical workplace. Various laws have been proposed to prevent gun violence in communities. Laws involving universal background checks and identification requirements at the time of gun purchase have been shown to be most closely related to decreases in mortality rates.
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