One year ago this week, a 22 year old man with a known history of mental health problems murdered 7 and wounded 13 on the streets of Isla Vista near Santa Barbara, California. From tragedy came progress as the California legislature passed the country’s first gun violence restraining order months later. This law empowers family members to speak up and act with law enforcement so that guns can be temporarily removed when loved ones are in crisis and at elevated risk of violence.
Last month through NPA’s gun violence prevention work we have heard loud and clear from national experts that prevention works and physicians have a role. Education campaigns like those from the National Crime Prevention Council influence how adults think and act to keep guns safe from children.
Campaigns such as ASKing Saves Kids can keep children safe when playing at the home of a friend where a gun may be stored. Physicians can augment this work by talking about these issues with their patients or offering educational material in the office. Safety advocates can take heart at the growing consensus among health care providers that gun violence is a health issue that physicians must address with their patients.
And while good work is being done to reduce gun violence the cycle of violence continues. Another shooting this week in Isla Vista which left two UC Santa Barbara students injured serves as a grim reminder on this anniversary of how much further we have to go to keep our communities safe. The violence will continue as long as we allow it.