Experts from Temple University are tackling the issue of gun violence from a variety of angles. They shared context which helps us understand how America’s gun violence has risen to the levels it has, and what we can do to make the country a safer place.

Category one, gunshot wound to abdomen. In minutes, the trauma team at Temple University Hospital has evaluated the bloodied young man wheeled into their trauma bay and decided to take him to the operating room for life-saving surgery. Now, Jessica Beard’s hands move deftly inside the large incision on the patient’s abdomen checking for damage to the major blood vessels, kidneys, liver, and spleen. Finding them unscathed, she turns her attention to a bullet-damaged part of the intestine, reconstructing it with a quick combination of staples and stitches. 

As Beard discards her bloodied gloves and her young patient begins to wake up from anesthesia, she allows herself a brief moment of relief. This young man—who should be too young to know the brutalization of a gun—will live, and soon be reunited with his mother, who has been pacing the waiting room with silent tears running down her cheeks. 

Thirty minutes later, Beard’s phone pings twice in her pocket in rapid succession. Category one, gunshot wound to chest, reads one alert. Category one gunshot wound to leg, patient 2, reads the other. Beard and her team launch into their fine-tuned choreography again, determined to save these lives too. 

This is a snapshot of one trauma surgeon’s experience but this scene is playing out every day across the country.

Gun violence has become an unavoidable reality of American society. The barrage of news reports about shootings comes in such quick succession now that we no longer have time to catch our breath before a new tragedy takes hold of the public’s attention. Almost every day this year, a new American community has grieved in the wake of a loaded gun.

Yet this reality is one that is unique to the United States, at least among developed countries. The U.S. has more gun-related deaths than any other developed country in the world. In 2020, a total of 45,222 people died in the U.S. from gun-related injuries. In 2018, it was estimated that Americans own a total of 393 million guns, meaning that the U.S. also has the highest number of guns per capita in the world.

It’s easy to see a correlation between these figures, but what’s harder to understand is why something hasn’t been done to address the problem. After every shooting that captures national attention, grieving family members and citizens ask the same questions: Why does the U.S. have a gun problem? How can we improve gun laws and policies? And how can we stop shootings from happening in the future?

Source: Understanding American Gun Violence Part 1: The evolution of

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