PUBLIC HEALTH: Officials Call for Gun Violence Data
A group of doctors and public health officials contend that the lack of good information about the cost of handgun violence is harming public health policy, according to a report released today. The Handgun Epidemic Lowering Plan (HELP) report charges that "state and local health authorities have little understanding of what lies behind most gunshot injuries," calling on public health officials to collect data from individual incidents about who was shot, the type of weapon and the circumstances surrounding the incident. HELP's Dr. Katherine Christoffel said, "Good health policy decisions cannot be made without good local data, and ... those data are not available." Reuters/Los Angeles Times reports that while health officials "continue to track fading diseases such as polio through the public health system, gun violence data remains a black hole for many medical professionals." HELP notes that guns have killed more than 30,000 people annually since 1972, about the same number of people that died from AIDS at the peak of the U.S. epidemic in 1996 (Quinn, 2/4).
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that several cities in California are preparing to sue gunmakers to recover the health care costs of treating gun violence victims. Attorneys for Los Angeles and San Francisco are co-chairing a task force to monitor the growing national backlash against gunmakers, and Oakland and San Jose may join the possible suit. "We in San Francisco have tremendous health costs because of guns," said City Attorney Louise Renne (Epstein, 2/4). Click here for CHL coverage of the costs of gun violence.