Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Jackie Speier (CA-14) was joined by Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Congressman Mike Thompson (CA-05), public health experts, and Scrubs Addressing the Firearm Epidemic (SAFE) members in calling for firearms injury and mortality prevention research to address the root causes of America’s gun violence epidemic and provide evidence-based solutions. The press conference comes as the House of Representatives takes a historic step by considering Congresswoman DeLauro’s Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education bill – the first appropriations bill in over 20 years that includes $50 million in dedicated gun violence research funding at the CDC and NIH.
“Almost 40,000 Americans a year die from guns. That’s more than 100 people every day. Yet for over 20 years, public health experts have been sidelined from using their expertise to develop evidence-based solutions to this epidemic by the gun lobby and Members of Congress tied to its purse strings,” Rep. Speier said. “When Americans were threatened by increases in automobile accidents, cancer, HIV/AIDs, and opioid addiction, federally-funded research helped lawmakers develop policies that saved lives. Gun violence should be no different. To those who attack medical professionals calling for research funding or who dismiss gun violence survivors like myself who live daily with the physical and mental scars let me assure you that this is our lane and we’re not giving up until we address this national health crisis.”
“The epidemic of gun violence is a public health emergency and it demands public health research. For more than two decades, Congress has failed to fund critical gun violence prevention research. We are going to change that this year,” said Congresswoman DeLauro, Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education. “We need to better understand the correlation between domestic violence and gun violence, how Americans can safely store guns, and how we can intervene to reduce suicide by firearms. The $50 million we have included in this year’s funding bill for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health will help us do just that.”
“Giving our experts the funding needed to study gun violence is one of the most critical steps forward in fighting this epidemic and keeping our communities safe,” said Congressman Mike Thompson, Chair of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force. “That’s why I’m proud to stand with Rep. Speier and Chairwoman DeLauro in working to including $50 million in the upcoming appropriations bill for the CDC and the NIH to conduct this lifesaving research and why I will be proud to vote to pass this bill next week. It’s a win for important research and a win for all those of us working to help end gun violence.”
“During my many deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan with the US military in our wars since 9/11, I saw and cared for troops who had sustained horrific injuries caused by military automatic and semiautomatic weapons,” said Dr. Dean Winslow, SAFE Director; Stanford Professor of Medicine; and Retired U.S. Air Force Colonel. “It is unconscionable that 40,000 American men, women, and children in the United States die from gun violence each year.”
“We are facing a public health crisis that is uniquely American,” said Dr. Joseph Sakran, gun violence survivor; John Hopkins Hospital Assistant Professor Surgery, Director of Emergency General Surgery, and Associate Chief of the Division of Acute Care Surgery. “The medical community has both the possibility and responsibility to work with other stakeholders as we develop a data-driven approach to prevent these senseless tragedies.”
"What I always knew, yet never truly understood until now, is that losing a loved one in this way is not like losing someone to medical disease,” said Dr. Alex Grossman, UCLA Emergency Medical Resident and the niece of Lori Gilbert-Kaye, who was killed on April 27 when a 19-year-old gunman opened fire at Chabad of Poway. “A death by gun violence is not natural. It is not peaceful. There is no preparing for it, no getting one's affairs in order, no chances to say goodbye or "I love you" one last time. The emotional shrapnel spreads far and punctures deeply, forever embedding itself deep inside the survivors, the loved ones, and the community. Of all the emotions I have experienced since my aunt's death, one of the most difficult is that of helplessness,” Grossman continued. “I am here today because I don't want to be helpless any longer. They say knowledge is power, and as physicians, knowledge is, and always has been, OUR power."
“A gunshot does not just alter the lives of the person shooting and the person getting shot,” said Dr. Arkaprava Deb, Kings County Hospital Psychiatrist; Doctors for America. “It changes the community.”
“Gun violence is one of the largest public health crises affecting this country,” said Dr. Roger Mitchell Jr., Washington D.C. Chief Medical Examiner; George Washington University Clinical Professor of Pathology; Howard University Professor of Surgery. “Yet we have not developed a comprehensive national strategy to combat its effects on American communities. But we can!”
"To prevent future devastating events such as those at Sandy Hook Elementary School and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School medical students are calling for increased education on how to talk to patients about firearms in a personalized way that respects patients’ cultural standards while focusing on their safety,” said Deniz Cataltepe, University of Mass Medical Student; SAFE Student Chapters Director.
“Federally-supported research can provide important insights into how to prevent firearm injuries and death, particularly among our nation’s most vulnerable populations that may lack the necessary resources or capabilities to protect their own health because of socio-economic status, limited financial means, age, and/or other factors,” said Richard Hamburg, Safe States Alliance Executive Director. “For us, this is first and foremost a public health issue.”
"Jaime Guttenberg's favorite quote was ‘dreams and dedication are a powerful combination,’” Dr. Abbie Guttenberg Youkilis, Parkland Victim Family Member; Internal Medicine Specialist said. "Now in her memory, our family dreams for her. We dream of an end to gun violence. And, like Jaime, we are dedicated and will achieve our goals."
The press conference can be viewed here.