a. THE CHALLENGE
The challenge: To intervene in the lives of individuals who commit violence against themselves or others by using a gun before those devastatingly harmful acts occur which destroy lives, families and communities all over the United States.
Every year more than 60,000 boys and young men, ages 16 - 30, commit assaults with a gun. More than 10,000 victims of these assaults are killed, the rest are seriously injured, often bearing the physical and emotional trauma for their entire lives.
More than 20,000 individuals, mostly older White males, use a gun to end their own lives every year. The older suicide victims have usually seen a doctor within the 12 months prior to their suicide, but only half these patients are screened for mental health issues. and
they are rarely questioned about access to personally-owned guns.
Gun violence is not just confined to males. Women are also frequently involved in gun violence, usually as victims in domestic disputes.
Evidence-based research demonstrates that the adolescents and young men who commit fatal and non-fatal gun assaults begin to get interested in guns during their early teen years. These individuals are still having contact with primary-care physicians either for pre-school checkups or finishing childhood vaccination cycles, or both. As for suicide victims, most older individuals visit a doctor more frequently during their final years.
We would like the clinical moments for all patients, but particularly both adolescents and older males, to include guidance about the risks and dangers of guns. But physicians are often reluctant to counsel patients about gun risk, because they often feel stymied given their lack of specific knowledge about guns. This website contains basic information about the design and use of guns, as well as how gun owners think and talk about guns. This information can also be ordered in printed format on this website.