GUN VIOLENCE: UC-Davis Doctor Targets Public Health Approach
Tired of seeing gun violence victims in the emergency room, Dr. Garen Wintemute of the UC-Davis School of Medicine has "joined the ranks of gun control advocates trying to stop the carnage by getting criminals' guns off the streets." But Wintemute has taken a unique approach: he addresses gun violence as a public health problem. He said, "If we were talking about an infection as opposed to a bullet, and we had 30,000 to 40,000 deaths a year, no one would question whether this was a health problem." Wintermute, a "one-man band who is a professor of epidemiology and preventive medicine, a practicing emergency room doctor and director of his own Violence Prevention Resource Program," has assembled, interpreted and published statistics and facts on gun violence, testified before Congress three times and in 1997 was named one of 15 "heroes of medicine" by Time magazine. His message is that "guns need to be made safer to prevent unintentional tragedies, and their access made as difficult as possible for the perpetrators of intentional ones." Instead of outlawing guns completely, Wintemute wants to "stop or reduce the chances of injury-by-gunshot occurring in the first place." But he says there is "no one thing" that will prevent such occurrences, and instead pushes for a comprehensive approach that includes restricting how many guns can be purchased, reducing the number of inexpensive guns and using computer data to identify gun dealers that sell to criminals (Vanzi, California Journal, 3/00 issue).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.