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‘It just takes all of us’: 3 things a doctor says everyone can do to prevent gun violence

“We need to start treating gun violence the same way we treat other public health crises.”

If the frequent reports of mass shootings and political gridlock over guns have you losing hope about what can be done to prevent shootings in your community and across the country, a local emergency room doctor has steps you can take “today.”

Dr. Megan Ranney, an emergency room physician and associate dean at the Brown University School of Public Health, appeared on CBS Sunday Morning this week, describing the effects of gun violence she sees as a doctor. 

The damage from a bullet fired by an AR-15 is “almost indescribable,” she said.

“It creates gaping holes, it liquifies organs, it is rarely survivable,” the Rhode Island doctor said. “But as shocking and horrifying as each mass shooting is, what I see in the ER, day-in and day-out, are mostly handgun injuries. And these are horrible, too. Suicides, domestic violence, community violence, and more.”

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Ranney, who has been leading national efforts to conduct gun safety research and advocating for more federal funding for years, said the way a bullet “rips through a body” mirrors the way the gun violence tears through communities, impacting not just the victims but their families and friends. 

“Talking to each of them is part of my job, too,” she said. “And it’s heartbreaking. We need to start treating gun violence the same way we treat other public health crises: drunk driving, heart disease, even COVID. We can prevent gun violence before it lands people in my ER.”

The doctor laid out three steps everyone can take to prevent gun violence. The number of civilian-owned firearms in the United States (more than 393 million) outnumbers the nation’s total population (326 million). 

First, she said anyone with a firearm in their home — more than 40 percent of Americans — should take steps to ensure the gun is “stored safely, locked up, ideally unloaded.” 

“Second, know the danger signs,” Ranney said. “Depression, dementia, domestic violence, substance use, and yes, hatred. Finally, if someone you know is showing those danger signs, do everything you can to put time and distance between them and a gun while they’re at risk of hurting themselves or others.

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“I’m tired of taking care of victims and their families,” she said. “But I maintain faith. This is not easy, but we can do it. It just takes all of us.”

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