News / Health

American Doctors Speak Out on Gun Violence

American Doctors Speak Out on Gun Violencei
X
September 23, 2013 10:46 PM
After yet another mass shooting in the U.S., when a gunman killed 12 people at a military facility in Washington last week, members of Congress are again talking about gun safety. Deep divisions on the issue kept Congress from passing new laws on gun control earlier this year even after 20 children were killed in a shooting at a Connecticut elementary school last December. But doctors are now adding their voices to the debate, as VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Carol Pearson
After yet another mass shooting in the U.S., when a gunman killed 12 people at a military facility in Washington last week, members of Congress are again talking about gun safety. Deep divisions on the issue kept Congress from passing new laws on gun control earlier this year even after 20 children were killed in a shooting at a Connecticut elementary school last December. But doctors are now adding their voices to the debate.

Across the nation, doctors are speaking out against gun violence.

At Medstar Washington Hospital where victims of the Navy Yard shooting were treated, Dr. Janis Orlowski said there is an "evil" in U.S. society.

"I may be the chief medical officer of a very large trauma center, but there's something wrong here when we have these multiple shootings, these multiple injuries, there's something wrong," she said.

A study published in the American Journal of Medicine indicates that gun ownership does not make a country safer. The report also found another factor in the level of gun violence: mental illness.

Those who committed mass shootings in the past few years in Colorado, Arizona, Texas and Virginia were all men who had serious mental illnesses and access to guns.

"Mentally ill people who are not in treatment, are more violent than the rest of the population," said Dr. Eliot Sorel, who is a psychiatrist at The George Washington University School of Public Health.

According to The National Institute of Mental Health, those with a serious mental illness are more likely to be violent if they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs or during an extreme state when they are out of touch with reality. But the institute also reports that most people with a serious mental illness are not violent.

However, statistics show that in the U.S., almost half of adults with a serious mental illness are not in treatment.

"Mental health is somewhat relegated and still is, kind of like an orphan as part of health system. So the access to those services are very limited," said Sorel.

Sorel also points to cultural aspects of American society - the value of individual rights and the second amendment right to bear arms.

He says to reduce the incidents of gun violence, it must be treated as a public health issue.

"We have the tools in public health to do a disciplined review of what is going on and to come up with some recommendations," he said.

Polls show most Americans agree that those with serious mental illnesses should not have access to firearms, but they wonder if the current mental health system is comprehensive enough to prevent mass shootings.

Related articles and polls:

"Guns Do Not Make a Nation Safer,” Say Doctors"

"Americans Fault Mental Health System Most for Gun Violence"
 

You May Like

Polls Open in Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid