It’s Time for Corporate Leaders to Demand an End to Gun Violence
The United States continues to struggle to slow the gun violence public health epidemic. As of this writing, gun violence has claimed more than 6,000 lives in more than 90 incidents since the start of 2023. That’s well more than one shooting per day in this country.
Stories of gun violence play out almost daily on live television, with news reporting on children gaining access to unlocked, loaded guns. It should be unacceptable to all of us.
Health care leaders have a special role to play – and a responsibility to keep their regions and communities safe and healthy. That’s why Northwell Health is investing heavily in a public education and awareness campaign with about 200 other health systems. As”Hospitals United,” we’re addressing what these incidents put before us. It’s a simple public service message: “It doesn’t kill to ask” if there are unlocked guns in a neighbor’s or loved one’s home. We already know the consequences when children are able to gain access to firearms.
Northwell is holding its fourth annual Gun Violence Prevention Forum this week, in which we are bringing together health care leaders from some of the nation’s largest health systems and children’s hospitals to discuss how we can change the narrative on gun safety.
Hamstrung by political concerns over Second Amendment rights, US House leaders appear unlikely to take additional legislative action to stem the rising tide of violence, such as outlawing assault weapons, despite the fact that hundreds of thousands of Americans have died from gun violence in the last decades. This includes homicides, unintentional shootings and, sadly, suicides, which account for more than half of all gun deaths annually. Corporate America – CEOs not just in health care but in all industries – can be instrumental in creating momentum for change.
Guns are the leading cause of death among children and adolescents in America, surpassing motor vehicle deaths. In the United States, gun violence killed at least 1,600 kids who were 17 and under and injured at least 4,500 in 2022.
We need to confront gun violence for what it is: a societal issue and a health care crisis that has gone on for far too long.
In the wake of mass school shootings like those in Uvalde, Texas, and Newtown, Connecticut, I wondered what it would take to change people’s minds about the need for greater gun safety. I think about the impact on our schools and communities, and on those who responded to these awful, indelible events: How might they have felt when they got home from work? Did they think about the senseless deaths, or have they become desensitized to them because these scenes play on repeat throughout the United States?
Many of these tragedies are preventable. They give us a choice about how we think about gun violence and its far-reaching effects on daily life in America. Do we really want active shooter drills in schools to be routine?
The latest shootings are reminders of why we must demand change. We shouldn’t accept more than 90 mass shootings in less than two months. Let’s make sure we’re not looking the other way, numb to the carnage, when we can demand and enact change.