The U.S. Department of Justice data shows that violent crime in America has been continuously declining for more than 20 years. However, the last two years have shown a small increase, like other small increases over the years that were followed by continuing decline.

All deaths from guns are tragedies and gun violence should be studied as a public health issue. Unfortunately, Congress stopped funding gun violence research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention under pressure from the NRA. Using a public health approach, it becomes clear that gang-related shootings are not a widespread problem since they tend to be isolated to specific cities, like several diseases. Also, school shootings are terribly awful and we should be doing everything we can to prevent them knowing full well we never eradicate them. But they are rare events and they often are related to bullying, something every school can address without the need to arm teachers.

If we want to focus on gang-related violence, start by addressing the source of those guns, the underground market, and work to stop the flow of stolen guns. We can more effectively address bullying in schools to help reduce school shootings. We can also insure that all gun owners obey laws governing the safe storage of firearms.

The fact is, this country does not recognize guns as a major health hazard, much like tobacco and cars are, and needs to be regulated as a public health issue, just like tobacco and car safety.

Bob Harris

Albany (Oct. 14)

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