Denver Police Chief Backs Looking at Gun Violence As a Public Health Issue


Gun violence should be treated as a public-health issue as is alcoholism, smoking, and traffic, people concerned about gun-related death rates from mass shootings and random shots nationwide tell the Denver Post. “Guns are where tobacco was in the 1950s,” said Garen Wintemute director of the Violence Prevention Research Program, who practices emergency medicine at the University of California at Davis School of Medicine. “There’s a little bit of science and a great deal of reluctance to do anything with the results.”

A public-health approach based on scientific research would provide practical solutions for communities — with the additional benefit of sidestepping the political quagmire of the constitutionally guaranteed right to bear arms. “It’s not going to do any harm to look at it from a public-health perspective,” Denver Police Chief Robert White said, “and it might help us get to the root of why gun violence is such a pervasive issue in our society and why there is such a pervasive need for young people to have guns.” The rate of kids killed by guns is more than 1½ times that of all people killed by guns in the Denver area. In Denver, the rate of kids killed in such a manner is nearly triple that of all people. White’s tenure as chief, which began last December, has been marked by a dramatic run of gun violence–21 fatal shootings.

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