Surgeon general declares gun violence in US a public health crisis

The United States surgeon general is declaring gun violence a public health crisis amid a fast-growing number of injuries and deaths involving firearms in the country. 

Dr. Vivek Murthy, the nation’s leading doctor, issued the advisory Tuesday stating that gun violence and its immediate psychological ramifications may severely compromise public health. 

"Today, for the first time in the history of our office, I am issuing a Surgeon General's Advisory on firearm violence," Murthy said in a video announcement. "It outlines the urgent threat firearm violence poses to the health and well-being of our country."

Murthy’s statement follows another summer weekend marked by mass shootings. 

Dr. Vivek Murthy speaks during a news conference at the Queen Theater December 08, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. (Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

"As a doctor, I've seen the consequences of firearm violence go up close and the lives of the patients that cared for over the years," he continued. "These are moms and dads, sons and daughters, all of whom were robbed of their physical and mental health by senseless acts of violence."

Murthy said there is "broad agreement" that gun violence is a problem, citing a poll last year that found most Americans worry at least sometimes that a loved one might be injured by a firearm. More than 48,000 Americans died from gun injuries in 2022.

The advisory also states that 54% of adults in America have experienced a firearm-related incident. These experiences with firearm violence include individuals who have been threatened with a gun (21%), lost a family member in a gun-related death (19%), witnessed a shooting (17%), and been wounded by a firearm (4%).

"People want to be able to walk through their neighborhoods and be safe," Murthy told The Associated Press in a phone interview. "America should be a place where all of us can go to school, go to work, go to the supermarket, go to our house of worship, without having to worry that that's going to put our life at risk."

Doctors quickly praised Murthy's advisory. The American Academy of Family Physicians, for example, has considered gun violence a public health epidemic for over a decade.

"Family physicians have long understood, and have seen first hand, the devastating impact firearm violence has on our patients and the communities we serve," the group's president, Steven Furr, said in a statement to AP.

The National Rifle Association promptly rebuked Murthy's advisory.

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"This is an extension of the Biden Administration's war on law-abiding gun owners," Randy Kozuch, the organization's president, said in a statement on X.

A White House report obtained by The Associated Press says that more-thorough background checks have stopped roughly 800 sales of firearms to people under age 21. Additionally, more than 500 people, including some linked to transnational cartels and organized crime rings, have been charged with gun trafficking and other crimes under the landmark gun safety legislation.

This story was reported from Los Angeles. The Associated Press, FOX News contributed.