September 20, 2019
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How Can Healthcare Professionals Help with Gun Violence?

Whenever traumatic events affect the public, such as in cases of gun violence, healthcare professionals are called upon to help witnesses and survivors cope with the mental and emotional aftereffects.  As reported by Every Town for Gun Safety, the incidence of mass shootings and gun deaths have escalated. Currently, the number of gun-related fatalities average 96 per day in the U.S. according to data from the Centers for Disease Control. Healthcare professionals play an important role in the aftermath of violent incidents, but they also have a crucial role in violence prevention.

Collaborate with Other Agencies for Gun-safety Initiatives

Preventing gun violence is a complicated issue that straddles the need to uphold second amendment rights while protecting the public from intentional and unintentional firearms-related incidents. Healthcare professionals can share their first-hand experience with treating victims, survivors and their families. These professionals will be in a position to help other agencies identify effective strategies to reduce the incidence of gun violence and promote safety measures in gun-owning households. Mental health professionals can assist local and federal agencies in preparing a profile of likely perpetrators and the intervention strategies that can support these individuals and limit their access to firearms.

Advocate for Legislation to Promote Gun Control

Gun-control legislation is set on the federal level, but healthcare providers can support efforts to reduce gun violence even on the local level. Health professionals can support research, surveys and listening sessions that aim to generate information for working papers that will eventually serve as background material for future legislation. These professionals can advocate for gun safety on the local level by interfacing with local politicians, political action groups and other lobbying efforts to sway public opinion. The public may not have the opportunity to participate directly in developing gun-control legislation, but they have a broad influence on legislators through their votes.

Participate in Community Information Sessions

When it comes to hot-button issues such as gun control and public safety, emotions run high, and all parties involved may use subterfuge to advance their case and gain popular support for their advocacy. Healthcare professionals are in a position to mitigate the damage that results from deliberate misinformation. Health professionals should actively support or lead efforts to educate the public on the facts. They can make their expertise available by joining a speakers’ bureau or by producing educational material such as pamphlets, podcasts and videos.

Availability for Counseling Sessions

The services of healthcare professionals are typically contracted immediately after a violent incident. This service is made available to those who may have lost a loved one, survived a violent incident or witnessed an incident. However, counseling services, especially in mass shooting cases, should be made available to a wider segment of the population. With social media and nonstop news channels, many people may be affected by second-hand trauma and may not be able to process the impact of gun violence without professional help. Health practitioners should figure out a way to reach out to these people. Additionally, counseling services may also be needed by anyone reporting on the possibility that a violent incident may occur.

Gun violence is a public health crisis according to the American Medical Association, as reported by U.S. News. Healthcare professionals play a crucial role in helping to reduce gun violence by educating the public on gun safety, supporting legislative efforts to promote gun control and providing much-needed counseling to those who need the service.

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