MMS to Address Gun Violence as a Public Health Issue

BY ROBYN ALIE 
MMS PUBLIC HEALTH MANAGER

Steven Ringer, M.D., spoke to Vital Signs about what the year ahead will look like for the MMS Committee on Public Health, which he chairs.

Dr. Ringer: We’re looking at new and different approaches in public health. Public health doesn’t just have to be about Ebola or hepatitis C. There are greater societal issues with public health implications: gun violence, global health, immigration, poverty. We as the Committee on Public Health and the MMS need to keep thinking about these issues. It’s exciting to think about topics like these.

Our Public Health Leadership Forum this coming year will be on firearm violence. We had a lot of support for this topic. The question was, “What is the role of MMS on this issue?” It’s how gun violence affects the public health. There was a real desire for practical information for physicians — what can they do in their practice to protect their patients from harming themselves or others?

VS: We’ve seen legislation proposed in a few states — and adopted in Florida — limiting physicians’ ability to ask about guns in the home with their patients and parents of their pediatric patients, and legislation has been proposed in other states.

Dr. Ringer: The loss of the physician voice is really worrisome. Physicians speak to the science. That’s where we can have a voice. We can judge the quality and availability of the evidence. Advocate for action and interventions where there is evidence, and highlight the importance of the ability to do studies where there isn’t.

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