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News & Press Releases

US Surgeon General Declares Gun Violence a Public Health Crisis

On June 24, 2024, the United States Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy declared firearm violence a public health crisis, driven by the rapidly growing number of injuries and deaths involving firearms in the country.

The Surgeon General’s 40-page publication titled “Firearm Violence: A Public Health Crisis in America” outlines the scope of firearm violence, its impact on victims and communities, and offers a slew of policy suggestions for lawmakers, community leaders, and health systems. In addition to new regulations, Dr. Murthy calls for an increase in gun violence research and for health systems to promote and educate patients about gun safety and proper storage during checkups.

This is the first time the Office of the Surgeon General has ever published a warning focused on gun violence, which promises to be controversial in this politically-charged issue. In his June 24th public address, Dr. Murthy states that “firearms violence is a public health crisis; our failure to address it is a moral crisis.”

Although the US has failed in creating policies to effectively control gun violence, the Surgeon General’s Advisory is a step in the right direction.

“It is now time for us to take this issue out of the realm of politics and put it in the realm of public health, the way we did with smoking more than a half century ago,” Dr. Murthy told the Associated Press -referring to a 1964 report from the surgeon general that raised awareness about the dangers of smoking and is largely credited with reducing tobacco use and precipitating regulations on the industry.

In 2022, your SMCMA co-authored a resolution to the California Medical Association (CMA) urging Surgeon General Dr. Murthy to issue a report on gun violence. Thanks to the joint advocacy efforts of SMCMA and the San Francisco-Marin Medical Society (SFMMS), CMA accepted the resolve and a letter was sent to Surgeon General Dr. Murthy in April of 2023 urging him to issue a report on gun violence with recommendations for how to address the public health epidemic.

SMCMA efforts were led by Dr. Robert Spencer, and resolution co-authors included Dr. Barbara Weissman, Dr. John Maa, and Dr. Michael Schrader. This is a testament of how your voice can shape policy and initiatives within the California House of Medicine and impact the advocacy efforts of CMA and your SMCMA.