Public Health: The Missing Voice in the Debate Over Gun Violence

The issue of gun-related violence has long been a subject of heated emotional debate in this country. In recent months, it has become an even more widely discussed topic, with tensions rising as voices from different sides (and with opposing views) fight to be heard. Examining gun violence and its related deaths as a public health and safety issue can give a new perspective to the topic that could help us understand and approach it in a new way.

It is important to acknowledge that this is a complex issue, one that has deep cultural roots, whether the individual favors the right to allow gun ownership or believes it needs to be more restricted and regulated. To ensure that our communities and our families are safe, we need to improve the research that has already been done on the topics of gun injury and violence, and look at what can be done to prevent firearms from falling into the hands of people who will not use them wisely.

Additionally, more access to mental health services should be provided. This would allow mental health professionals to be aware of potential threats, while at the same time, individuals may receive care that could potentially prevent them from committing acts of violence, either to themselves or to others.

With an online Master of Public Health degree from Creighton University, you can play a crucial role in helping resolve this and other social challenges that are growing in today’s world.

The public health approach

Taking a public health approach to gun violence means that we first understand the roots and magnitude of the problem. This means studying data—collected from police reports, medical examiner files, population-based surveys and other sources—to understand how frequently it occurs, where it is most common, who its victims are and who perpetrates these crimes. Armed with that knowledge, we can take a three-step approach to resolving the problem:

  1. Identify risk and protective factors: By studying data, it’s possible to see a pattern of factors that put individuals at risk for either being victimized by or committing a crime. Once these factors are known, it’s easier to create a plan to curb those behaviors or factors.
  2. Develop prevention strategies: Again relying on research from a number of sources, it’s possible to design a prevention program that is tailored for a specific group or community.
  3. Ensure widespread adoption: Once you are able to prove that a certain strategy or program is effective, it can be implemented on a broader basis. Evaluating the program’s success periodically can ensure that the techniques are working and will allow for any needed changes to be adopted. 

Making a difference

For anyone who chooses a career in public health, it’s important to know that you’re making a difference. Being able to play a key role in resolving important issues—and understanding how they affect at-risk populations in particular—can provide untold rewards. It can help you change the outcomes for those in your community and, in doing so, permanently change the trajectory of the future for the better.

The online Master of Public Health degree program at Creighton University is an ideal environment for parlaying your passion for helping others into a career that makes a lasting difference. Contact us today to find out how to get started.