Enough is enough.
Last month’s fatal shootings and injuries of people in a Minneapolis neighborhood near Roosevelt High School, and at an Allina Health Clinic in Buffalo highlight the public health crisis that is gun violence. The March 22 mass shooting in Boulder Colo., further adds to the urgent call for gun violence prevention
According to the latest data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , there were 465 firearm deaths in Minnesota in 2019. 37 of these deaths were children or teens. 75% of the deaths were from suicide, and 22% were homicides. The gun suicide rate was 2 times higher in rural counties than in urban counties. From 2015-19, the rise in homicides of Black males was more than 28 times higher than whites. In Minneapolis alone, the number of homicides rose more than 66% between 2019 and 2020. In St. Paul, homicides rose more than 13%. To date, 10 fatalities have been reported at the recent shooting in Boulder.
When will we all realize that gun violence is a public health crisis? When will policymakers realize that gun violence prevention laws need to be strengthened?
In order to limit the sale of firearms to convicted felons, it is time for lawmakers to enact legislation to expand background checks to all gun sales, including those through the internet and private sales such as at gun shows. There should be strong penalties for unlawful selling, purchasing and transferring of firearms.
It is time for legislators to pass legislation that allows family members and law enforcement officers to temporarily remove guns from people exhibiting signs that they pose a danger to themselves or others.
Finally, it is time for lawmakers to pass funding for research related to gun violence to help identify the causes, and to develop strategies to reduce injuries caused by firearms.
I, and other Minnesota physicians, call on our policymakers to step up and protect the health and safety of all Minnesotans. Gun violence must stop.
Sally Berryman, MD, FACP is the Health and Public Policy Chair of the Minnesota American College of Physicians.