One of the greatest triumphs in health over the past century has been the dramatic decrease in childhood mortality. And yet, children still die, and that suggests that we should be looking carefully at what kills our children, and asking what we can do about it.
Next weekend, Americans will wear orange to mark Gun Violence Awareness Day and advocate for changes to our laws that could help stem the tide of firearm violence in this country. The recent shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas, which killed 10 people, underscored the need for reform, as did the many shootings that came before it, as will the many shootings that will follow if we persist in our collective inaction. With this in mind, we today rerun a modified version of a Dean’s Note on guns and public health. It is no accident that the original version of this note was one of the first I wrote when I became dean of the School of Public Health in 2015. I have come to believe that gun violence is among the preeminent public health challenges of our time, a belief shared by many in our field, and, hearteningly, an increasing number of people outside of it. The growing acknowledgement that gun violence is indeed a public health problem opens the door to public health solutions, and a commonsense, data-informed approach to this challenge, as the gun debate continues to unfold.