PODCAST: A Public Health Approach to Gun Violence in America

Aug. 15, 2023



"We are beginning to understand that this is not just an individual issue, but a community issue. [Addressing] community violence is a prominent portion of what needs to done, what can be done. We can actually change the course of history if we do so."

--Senator William Frist, M.D., practicing physician and former U.S. Senate Majority Leader

"Gun violence has received less than 1% of the funding that any other leading cause of death with similar mortality has ever received. When it comes to gun violence, it's akin to a new disease; we have such little data that we are starting from the basics."

-- Chethan Sathya, M.D., pediatric trauma surgeon and director of the Northwell Health Center for Gun Violence Prevention

"Even in the face of horrible statistics, this conversation gives me some hope... by reframing the issue to focus on injury prevention and identifying interventions that are rooted in the data."

-- Heather Howard, Princeton professor and former New Jersey Commissioner of Health and Senior Services

This episode tackles gun violence in America, a serious and escalating public health crisis. According to the CDC, firearms kill nearly 50,000 Americans each year and are now the leading cause of death for U.S. children and teens. The facts are startling, but not entirely surprising, when you consider that Americans own more guns per capita than any other country in the world.

Unfortunately, gun violence is often viewed as a political issue as opposed to a public health threat, which has prevented meaningful progress in fighting this epidemic. But that is beginning to change as policymakers, health care providers, and other stakeholders reframe the conversation and come together in the interest of safer, healthier communities.

Host Heather Howard, a professor at Princeton University and former New Jersey Commissioner of Health and Senior Services, examines challenges and potential policy solutions with two staunch advocates for depoliticizing gun safety and uniting for the common good: Senator William H. Frist, M.D., a practicing physician and former U.S. Senate Majority Leader, whose ongoing work proposes a shift in culture and targeted, bipartisan legislation; and Chethan Sathya, M.D., a pediatric trauma surgeon and director of the Northwell Health Center for Gun Violence Prevention.

The panel recommends a public health approach focused on firearm safety and injury prevention, emphasizing the value of scientific data and the implementation of evidence-informed interventions, such as safe storage, background checks, and “red flag” laws. Importantly, the show presents a hopeful path forward that fosters cooperative discussion and actions aimed at protecting our children and communities.

Read two recent articles on gun safety authored/co-authored by Senator Frist:

“The Massive New Public Health Threat To Kids: What Policies Would You Consider To Address Gun Safety?” Forbes, 5/3/23

“Gun Violence is the No. 1 Killer of Children; Here Are Common-Sense Steps to Address It.” The Tennessean, 4/17/23

Read more about the Northwell Health Center for Gun Violence Prevention, led by Dr. Sathya.

Learn about the Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium, a coalition of gun violence researchers and practitioners from eight states and territories (CT, DE, MA, NJ, NY, PA, PR, RI) that seeks to inform policymakers and the public by providing evidence-based, data-driven policy recommendations to disrupt the cycle of firearm-involved homicides, suicides, and injuries. Heather Howard and Dr. Sathya both participate in the consortium.