Shaping a Safer Future

In today’s Cape Tod Times there is great op ed piece written by Dr. Herbert Matthewson of Barnstable. Matthewson is a retired pediatrician who served as the first medical director of Cape Cod Hospital. A frequent blogger with a column on medical facts and fun, Matthewson has written a good column asking for more research on gun violence in the United States. 

In 1996 Congress instructed the Center for Disease Control to stop all research having to do with guns. That decision has had long-standing and wide-ranging implications. It has meant that for the last 22 years the CDC could not give research grants to scientists, doctors or sociologists to study gun violence. They could not establish a database to track gun injuries or deaths, either. 

Though one might argue that gun violence has become the largest public health crisis of our time,  costing upwards of 35,000 deaths a year through homicides, family accidents or suicides, we have very little data to help us understand what factors contribute to it and how to stem the tide of this kind of violence. 

We do keep statistics on gun deaths and where they occurred and this data shows that there is a huge discrepancy between the number of gun deaths in different states. But we don’t have any good data on what causes those discrepancies.

When the CDC studied automobile deaths researchers discovered that seat belts could have a huge impact, and so legislation was passed. Laws continue to be enacted to regulate seat belts, car seats for children, and how long they have to sit in them. As a result we now think it is normal to make sure that adults and children comply with safety guidelines when we ride in an automobile.  We did not eliminate cars but we made them much safer and eliminated some of the dangers associated with auto accidents. 

Dr. Matthewson argues that we need more research on guns, how we acquire them, how to use them safely. I found his argument compelling. You can read his article here.

Blessings, fellow Pilgrims, 

Rev. Susan

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