There's Reason for Optimism That We Will Make Progress Under Trump on Gun Violence

With Donald Trump and his team set to replace the outgoing Barack Obama administration, there is much to discourage gun safety advocates. Trump's most recent positions on guns include opposition to gun-free zones, support for requiring states to recognize concealed-carry permits issued in other states, and opposition to gun and magazine bans, including bans on assault weapons. Trump also enjoys the support of the National Rifle Association, which spent more than $30 million to bolster his campaign during the election.The Obama administration, for its part, leaves behind a mixed record on guns. This includes a number of executive actions aimed at curbing gun violence, and the administration's failure to secure Congressional passage of the Manchin-Toomey Bill, which would have required background checks on all commercial gun sales. President Obama made a number of impassioned statements on gun violence, often in the wake of mass shootings. After the 2015 Umpqua Community College shooting, hecalled the continued violence "a political choice that we make" with our inaction on guns. Given Trump's positions, it is easy to worry that this inaction will continue, at least for the next four years.Still, there is reason to hope for progress on this issue in the coming presidential term. This optimism is founded on a simple reality: gun violence is not a partisan issue; it is a public health issue. More than 30,000 people were killed by guns each year in the last decade, with thousands more either injured or suffering from the trauma of knowing someone killed or wounded by a gun.If a disease were killing this many people, we would rush to find a cure. So why not with guns?In fact, there is precedent for applying a public health approach to noninfectious threats that undermine the health of populations. During the last century, motor vehicle deaths, which once exceeded firearms deaths, declined, even as miles traveled increased at roughly the same rate. This reduction was achieved through a combination of vehicle safety legislation, better roads, and media campaigns aimed at promoting safer driving. A similar strategy could help us mitigate gun violence.  Continue reading...

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