Written by Ricky Choi, MD, MPH, NPA Board Member
Gun violence is a concern in many schools across the country. Yesterday, San Francisco Unified School District unanimously passed a resolution to make November violence prevention month and to make gun violence education a key part of the program. I was honored to be present for the vote. The following is my public testimony:
Good evening Commissioners and Superintendent Carranza. My name is Dr. Ricky Choi. I am a pediatrician and a local and national leader of the American Academy of Pediatrics and most importantly I am the father of a kindergartner and 2nd grader in a San Francisco Public School. Thank you Commissioner Haney for this very important resolution.
Gun violence is a real problem for children in our city. I have had patients who were afraid to play outside in their front yard for fear of gun violence and another nearly shot in their front yard. Every summer we have patients in wards of San Francisco General being treated for gun shot wounds. As the 2nd and 3rd leading causes of death for young people in the United States we can’t ignore that suicide and homicide often involve guns. Where are these guns coming from? More than 75% of guns used in suicide attempts and unintentional injuries of kids and teens were stored in the residence of the victim, a relative, or a friend.
I spend my day providing medical care and discussing safety with parents and children. I ask all of them about guns in the home.
What is clear is this: the absence of guns from children’s homes and communities is the most reliable and effective measure to prevent firearm-related injuries in children and teenagers, as stated by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Safe storage practices such as keeping guns unloaded, locked and the ammunition locked separately can reduce unintentional injury and suicide risk.
Curbing this terrible problem requires a multi-pronged effort:
1. Educate families about the dangers of keeping guns in the home and to keep them unloaded, locked, with ammunition locked separately
2. Empowering parents to ask if guns are stored in homes where their kids play such as a neighbor[‘s home
3. Getting kids at risk of self harm or harming other help in a timely way.
Through this resolution the Board of Education has an opportunity to reduce the risk of child harm and death from gun violence. Through efforts outlined in this resolution we can better educate families and children, informed children who will be the adults of this city and country. This is how we change the gun violence problem in our country.
Click here for NPA gun violence prevention resources.