Washington, D.C./ Politics & Govt
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Published on June 11, 2024
Vice President Harris Leads White House Effort with Healthcare Leaders to Address Gun Violence as Public Health CrisisSource: The White House

Last week, the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention (OGVP) under the guidance of Vice President Kamala Harris conducted a series of historic meetings with over 160 healthcare executives and practitioners to address the increasing rates of gun violence as a public health crisis. According to a readout provided by the White House, the convenings highlighted several key strategies including hospital-based violence intervention programs, firearm-risk screenings and discussions over gun storage counseling, as well as improving data collection and fostering regional collaboration among healthcare providers.

On June 6, the OGVP hosted an unprecedented gathering at the White House with nearly 80 health system and hospital executives from across the nation to explore a public health approach to effectively combat gun violence. Representatives from Intermountain Health, Northwell Health, the Children’s Hospital Association, and various other medical institutions and universities were present to openly discuss their roles in implementing and scaling up violence intervention programs, and to ensure the responsible storage of firearms particularly to prevent suicides. During this meeting, they have committed to not only collect but also to responsibly employ gun violence data to inform their strategies.

In addition to hospital and health system executives, OGVP's follow-up event on June 7 also wore significance for being held on Wear Orange Day, a day to remember victims and survivors of gun violence. This event brought in 80 frontline medical professionals from nurses to emergency responders. They were joined by representatives from organizations like Doctors for America, This is Our Lane, and the American College of Emergency Physicians, all of whom stand on the often traumatic frontline of gun violence in their communities.

Notably, Doctors for America presented ways in which doctors can leverage their trusted status to educate patients on gun safety practices. They emphasized the need to foster safe and open dialogues on the subject of firearms. This is in tune with President Biden's broader approach to gun violence prevention, which includes a focus on promoting safe firearm storage — measures that significantly reduce the risk of self-harm and accidental shootings among children. In further efforts to prevent gun-related injuries, the American Rescue Plan employed over $15 billion in funds to support public safety and violence intervention programs across various communities; similarly, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act signed by President Biden in 2022 allocated an added $15 billion for programs related to mental health, school safety, and violence intervention.

These White House-backed initiatives represent clear strides in redefining gun violence as not just a crime issue but a deeply entrenched public health crisis. The administration has also announced new executive actions that implement the President’s Executive Order on promoting safe gun storage, responding to increasingly pressing calls for better measures to prevent the loss of life due to firearms.