This NEJM Group Open Forum was sparked by Dr. Chana Sacks’ moving Perspective piece which described her personal loss in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook tragedy. However, while responses to that horrifying event and others like it have been robust, those circumstances remain relatively infrequent. Sadly, it seems that conventional discourse grossly under-appreciates the annual burden of gun-related injury and death in the absence of a terrible atrocity.
In 2013, as many people died from firearm injuries (33,000+) as died from motor vehicle accidents (CDC, 2015). Why is our society not as vigilant about gun safety legislation, enforcement, and advocacy as we are about motor vehicle safety? What role should physicians and public health researchers play in cultivating an appropriate sense of urgency among the general public and specifically within the health care community?