Curbing the epidemic numbers of deaths and injuries from firearms in the United States will require a “spirit of partnership” among law enforcement officials, health care providers and community leaders, said Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey.
“This is a public health issue, and we are not going to be able to prosecute our way out of this,” she said. “We need to reframe the conversation and retake the issue for the good of our country.”
Healey was a featured speaker at 12th Annual MMS Public Health Leadership Forum – Firearm Violence: Policy, Prevention & Public Health on April 5 at MMS Headquarters in Waltham.
The forum was convened to discuss the latest information on firearms violence, including how physicians can reframe the debate about firearms in order to encourage strategies that support gun violence prevention policies, research and programs.
Expert faculty includes Georges Benjamin, MD, executive director of the American Public Health Association, David Rosmarin, MD, director of the Forensic Psychiatry Service at McLean Hospital, the Rev. Jeffrey Brown, longtime anti-violence activist and founder of RECAP, and many more distinguished speakers.
Healthy defended the right of physicians to speak to their patients about guns, noting that physicians in Florida were recently prohibited by an appeals court from doing so.
She also urged support for policies that would require gun manufacturers and dealers to be held more accountable for the estimated 33,000 deaths per year across the country. “Guns are the only consumer products that enjoy full immunity (from lawsuits)” she said.
Healey drew parallels between the guns and the issue of opioid abuse, an issue on which the MMS and state officials have collaborated extensively. “This crisis requires renewed focus and persistence,” she said. “I hope collectively we can work together and make an impact.”