Gun Violence Declared a Public Health Emergency, Sparking Backlash from Conservatives

By: Georgia | Published: Jun 26, 2024

The U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, has declared gun violence a public health crisis. 

This announcement comes on the heels of yet another tragic weekend of mass shootings that has left communities across America reeling.

A New, Deadly Leader

It’s official: gun violence has eclipsed car accidents, poisonings, and cancer as the leading killer of young Americans. 

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Dr. Vivek Murthy appearing at a hearing, looking calm and wearing glasses

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Dr. Murthy’s warning isn’t just based on gut feelings; it’s backed by hard data and a lot of it.

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Murthy's Bold Moves

First-ever of its kind, Dr. Murthy’s advisory pushes for sweeping changes, including banning automatic rifles and enforcing universal background checks. 

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An automatic rifle mounted on a display wall, secured by chains

Source: Wikimedia Commons

It’s a significant pivot aimed at tackling this epidemic head-on.

The Human Cost

Murthy puts it starkly, saying: “People are scared… to do normal things like go to school or the grocery store or work and they’re worried about the risk to their life.” 

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Dr. Vivek Murthy being sworn into office with Joe Biden smiling next to him, a woman adjusting his uniform

Source: Wikimedia Commons

His words demonstrate the pervasive fear that gun violence has instilled in everyday Americans.

Legislative Hurdles

While Dr. Murthy’s call is clear, making these changes at a national level depends on Congress—a body that has historically shied away from strict gun control measures. 

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A wide shot of the U.S. Capitol Building under clear skies, view from the lawn

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Yet, some states are already moving ahead with parts of Murthy’s plan.

Conservative Backlash on Social Media

Following the advisory, conservative voices have flooded X, formerly Twitter, sharing their dissent. 

A crowd gathered for a gun rights demonstration outside a government building, with a person holding a sign advocating for the protection of Second Amendment rights

Source: Wikimedia Commons

They argue that the advisory is more political than medical, questioning the implications for law-abiding gun owners.

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NRA Points Fingers at Biden Administration

The National Rifle Association responded sharply.

President Joe Biden smiling, dressed in a blue suit with a red tie, standing in front of an American flag

Source: Wikimedia Commons

They blame the Biden administration’s reluctance to prosecute criminals as the real issue behind America’s crime problem, not gun ownership.

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Legal Challenges Anticipated

Former Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis spoke out against the advisory too. 

Jenna Ellis in a white dress speaking at a podium with purple lighting in the background

Source: Wikimedia Commons

She called it a misuse of public health powers and urging states to safeguard against such overreach, reminiscent of measures seen during the Covid pandemic.

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The Youngest Victims

Children and teens are increasingly the victims of this crisis, with suicides by gun among under-35s skyrocketing. 

Young protesters carrying signs advocating for gun control, walking on a city street

Source: Wikimedia Commons

The data Murthy has gathered paints a harrowing picture of the disproportionate impact on America’s youth compared to their international peers.

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A Cry for Comprehensive Action

“My hope is that if we understand this as a kid’s issue…we will see it not as a political issue but as a public health issue that should concern all of us,” says Murthy. 

Dr. Vivek Murthy, in a navy uniform, speaking at a podium in the White House press room, with a woman standing behind him

Source: Wikimedia Commons

He’s advocating for a unified approach that spans legislation, community action, and education.

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Building Safer Communities

Murthy isn’t just about the talk; he’s about action. 

A man, bent over, examining various firearms displayed on a wall and in glass cases in a gun store

Source: Wikimedia Commons

He suggests ramping up community violence intervention programs and expanding safe storage education. 

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The Numbers Don’t Lie

The stats are sobering: active shooter incidents and gun homicides are at a staggering high, with no signs of significant downturns. 

Protesters holding a sign that reads "We need Gun Control" among a crowd, with the message "Enough is enough" also visible

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Last year alone, gun violence claimed more lives than some natural disasters. Dr. Murthy’s advisory may be controversial, but it’s a call to action that’s hard to ignore given the numbers.

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