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‘There is likely more to come’: Dr. Megan Ranney urges action to address gun violence following Colorado mass shooting

“We continue to allow families and communities to be irrevocably devastated, by pretending there’s nothing we can do.”

Police vehicles in the parking lot of the Boulder King Soopers grocery store after the shooting that killed 10 people in Boulder, Colorado, on Monday. Theo Stroomer / The New York Times

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Dr. Megan Ranney is warning the public is likely to see more deadly incidents of gun violence — like the mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado, on Monday that killed 10 people — as COVID-19 pandemic reopenings move forward. 

Monday’s mass shooting at a grocery store was the second event in less than a week, after a man opened fire in three spas around Atlanta, Georgia, killing eight people

“Up until last week – it had been over a year since the last public mass shooting,” Ranney wrote on Twitter. “We were lucky. Remember, the # of gun owners has increased during #COVID19 and many are not storing their guns safely. Meanwhile, there are more people depressed, isolated, & angry. A bad combo.”

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Ranney, an emergency room physician and director of the Brown Lifespan Center for Digital Health, has been leading national efforts to conduct gun safety research and pushing for more federal funding for years. 

The doctor said that while the general public may not have noticed, big cities have already been experiencing a surge in gun violence. 

Easy access to firearms makes societal disruptions, like the pandemic, “all the more deadly,” Ranney wrote. 

“It was, sadly, only a matter of time until this struck communities like Boulder,” she said. “As we open back up… hang on. There is likely more to come.”

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Gun violence is a public health problem, the doctor said, which means it is “fixable” — even in the United States. The situation isn’t hopeless, she wrote, laying out five steps that can be taken to address the epidemic of gun violence

Those steps include better policy, better identification of those at risk of committing violent acts with firearms, safer storage for guns, and having the public “look out” for neighbors.

“Don’t rely on thoughts & prayers,” Ranney wrote. 

Until those steps are taken, the U.S. continues to “allow families and communities to be irrevocably devastated, by pretending there’s nothing we can do,” she wrote. 

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