Public health approach to gun violence

Local doctor states case for more research


by Mike Strehlow

Wauwatosa--Dr. Stephen Hargarten believes gun violence should be treated as a public health problem, much like drunken driving or a flu outbreak.

"If there was an outbreak of an infectious disease in Madison killing five children and three adults, the secretary of health requests an investigation; what happened, tell me the causation, outline the details of what happened so we don't have it happen again.  We can and should do that for gun violence" Dr. Hargarten told CBS 58's Mike Strehlow.

Hargarten is not only Director of the Injury Research Center at the Medical College, but as Emergency Medicine Chief at Froedtert Hospital, he has treated gunshot victims of street crime and mass shootings here in the Milwaukee area.

President Obama is calling on Congress to provide $10 million to fund research on what causes gun violence and how to prevent it, including any connection to video games and media.

Hargarten says that would be a good starting point, however, "The $10 million that was specified to go to CDC, I think needs one or two more zeroes after that."

He says the goal is not to disarm law-abiding citizens, but rather gain a better understanding of firearms, how and why they're used.

"I think sectors of civil society have often times been clashing rather than working together, and I think the public health approach offers solutions, offers strategies, and I think it's important to recognize that research efforts are needed," said Dr. Hargarten.

We obtained this response from the National Rifle Association:  "Criminals and the mentally ill with violent predispositions are the causes of the majority of gun violence in this country.  That's why the NRA supports enforcement of current laws, prosecution of criminals, and fixing our nation's broken mental health system.  You don't need $10 million on research to figure that out."










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