Provider News Fall 2016 - Firearm safety

Gun violence called a ‘public health crisis’ by American Medical Association

The American Medical Association has called gun violence in America “a public health crisis.” Firearm-related injuries and deaths are decreasing in the state, but are still high in Shasta County as compared to national and state levels. Between 1968 and 2011, more people in the US died from gun violence than died in all the wars the United States has ever fought (starting with the American War for Independence).

Keeping firearms in or around the house increases the risk of death by homicide or suicide. The percentage of gun ownership in Shasta County is relatively high, and this increases the risks of homicide and suicide.

More than 30,000 firearm deaths occur each year in the United States. More than twice this number go to hospitals because of nonfatal firearm injuries. The average firearm death rate during the period of 1999-2012 in Shasta County was 14.6 per 100,000 population, compared with 8.6 per 100,000 in California and 10.1 per 100,000 in the United States.

Firearm-related injury deaths include unintentional firearm injury (accidental shooting), self-inflicted injury by firearms (suicide), assault by firearms (homicide), legal intervention by firearms (police shooting), and injury of undetermined intent by firearms (ICD-10 codes U01.4, W32-W34, X72-X74, X93-X95, Y22-Y24, and Y35.0).

You can help ensure that your patients are safe by asking them:

  • Do you have guns in your home?
  • Do you keep your guns in secure places with trigger locks and remove them from places where children or vulnerable people might get access to them?
  • Do you store your ammunition separately from your guns?
  • Do you or anyone in your family suffer from depression, and if so, are you being treated for it?
  • Has anyone in your home had suicidal thoughts?

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 1-800-273-TALK, or text LISTEN to 741741.