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US gun violence a 'public health crisis,' country's chief doctor declares

Students and supporters gather in the rotunda to protest gun violence during the opening day of the Iowa Legislature.
Students and supporters gather in the rotunda to protest gun violence during the opening day of the Iowa Legislature. Copyright Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo
Copyright Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo
By Euronews with AP
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Firearm violence is a "public health crisis" in the US, the country's top doctor said on Tuesday.

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The US Surgeon General declared that gun violence in the country constitutes a "public health crisis" and issued an advisory calling attention to the "urgent" issue.

Firearms have been the leading cause of death for children and adolescents in the US, according to the advisory, over motor vehicles, poisoning and cancer.

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy has called on the US to ban automatic rifles and regulate the industry, but the US Congress typically recoils at gun control measures.

Some US state legislatures, however, have enacted or may consider some of the surgeon general's proposals.

Murthy said there is "broad agreement" that gun violence is a problem.

A poll last year found that six in ten Americans worry that a loved one might be injured by a firearm. More than 48,000 Americans died from gun injuries in 2022.

According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), the US stands out among developed countries, with gun-related homicide rates 19 times greater than in France and 77 times greater than in Germany.

The surgeon general's advisory promises to be controversial and will certainly incense right-wing Republican lawmakers, most of whom opposed Murthy's confirmation, twice, to the job over his statements on gun violence.

A 1964 surgeon general report that raised awareness about the dangers of smoking is largely credited with snubbing out tobacco use and precipitating regulations on the industry.

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