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Doctor recommends tackling gun violence from a public health perspective

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Gun violence in the United States is a public health problem – and it needs to be treated that way. That’s according to Dr. Rebecca Cunningham, the Director of the Injury Prevention Center at the University of Michigan.

Cunningham said gun violence prevention should be explored in the same way drownings and car crashes are prevented. That means focusing on risk and prevention factors, and applying injury prevention science and tactics. For example, to prevent car crashes, people changed infrastructure and the way cars were made.

“We can change how they interact with those firearms, how they’re stored safely. Whether they carry them when they’re very intoxicated or very angry. We can address people’s access to them at times where they’re really distressed,” Cunningham said.

This past weekend, there were two mass shootings in 24 hours. One in El Paso, Texas and one in Dayton, Ohio.

“We’re not going to get there just by sitting around talking to each other saying, ‘I think we should do this. I think we should do this,’” Cunningham said. “We need evidence-based solutions, that’s the way we solve major health crises.”

But before scientists can get there, there needs to be federal funding.

“We have never had a major improvement in a public health crisis in the country without substantial, federal investment,” Cunningham said.

She explained that there are some private organizations that could donate to the issue. But Cunningham said that type of money isn’t usually used for initial research – which is where they need to start.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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