Every year in the United States, over 33,000 people die as a result of gun violence—that’s more than 90 individuals a day. Despite the prevalence of gun violence in our society, the question of how best to mitigate its causes and reduce its impact on communities remains controversial. Some members of our communities are the victims of gun violence, while others view gun owning as an unlimited and undeniable right. Bringing such disparate views to a common understanding is challenging at best and nearly impossible in today’s polarized and highly charged political environment.
In order for communities to resolve contentious issues, there must be “space” for a dialogue among diverse stakeholders (including community members, elected officials, civic leaders, business owners, health professionals, and others), as well as a healthy respect for opposing viewpoints. Addressing gun violence through a public health lens provides a vehicle for a public discussion that focuses on the commonly held value for safe and healthy communities. In addition, this approach is supported by a growing body of scholarly research and several field-tested programs.
The American Bar Association has partnered with more than 40 medical, health, and antiviolence advocacy groups in a call to action against the gun violence epidemic gripping the nation. This Teaching Resource Bulletin, developed by the ABA Division for Public Education, is part of a collaborative effort among several ABA entities addressing gun violence through a focus on public health. Other ABA groups participating in this joint effort are: the Standing Committee on Gun Violence, the Criminal Justice Section, the Section of Health Law, the Government and Public Services Division, the Commission on Youth at Risk, and the Division for Bar Services. We hope you will find it a useful tool in beginning meaningful conversations in your community with school and community groups.
For more on the ABA’s work to reduce the impact of gun violence in communities across the country and for additional resources to supplement those you find in this publication, please visit this publication’s companion website, www.ambar.org/gunviolence.