Commentary by Dr. Megan Ranney, dean of public health at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island:
I am an emergency room doctor. I can tell you firsthand the damage from an AR-15’s bullet is almost indescribable.
It creates gaping holes. It liquefies organs. It is rarely survivable.
But as shocking and horrifying as each mass shooting is, what I see in the ER, day in and day out, are mostly handgun injuries. And these are horrible, too. Suicides… domestic violence… community violence… and more.
Regardless of the gun used, the way a bullet rips through a body is similar to the way gun violence tears apart a community. Each bullet leaves a ripple effect, not just for the victim, but for their parents, their children, their siblings and their friends.
Talking to each of them is part of my job, too, and it’s heartbreaking.
We need to start treating gun violence the same way we treat other public health crises – drunk driving, heart disease, even COVID. We can prevent gun violence before it lands people in my ER.
So, for all of you losing hope, here are three actions we can all take today:
First, if you have a firearm in your home (that’s more than 40% of us in America), make sure it’s stored safely – locked up, and ideally unloaded.
Second, know the danger signs: depression, dementia, domestic violence, substance use, and, yes, hatred.
Finally, if someone you know is showing these danger signs, do everything you can to put time and distance between them and a gun while they’re at risk of hurting themselves or others.
I’m tired of taking care of victims and their families. But I maintain faith.
This is not easy, but we can do it. It just takes ALL of us.
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Story produced by Sara Kugel. Editor: Chad Cardin.