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Want to fix systemic gun violence? Treat it as a public health issue, experts say

A handgun sits on a table inside a San Diego County gun shop, Sept. 5, 2018.
Roland Lizarondo
A handgun sits on a table inside a San Diego County gun shop, Sept. 5, 2018.

Californians are reeling from the shock of three separate mass shootings in a week in which 24 people were killed and 10 injured.

While gun violence is thought of typically as a matter of criminal justice and public policy, public health experts say this only deals with the problem after it's happened.

According to research, examining the root causes of gun violence including mental health issues and job loss or financial difficulty, are key in preventing it in the first place.


Experts also point out that aside from the staggering loss of life, there is also an economic toll in terms of jobs losses, health care services and resources for victims including medical bills, counseling, legal fees, financial restitution and more.

Despite widespread recognition of the issue as a public health matter, political gridlock over gun rights and access remains an obstacle to solving the problem.

Dr. Michael Rodriguez and Dr. Ninez Ponce of the Fielding School of Public Health at UCLA joined Midday Edition on Tuesday to talk about gun violence as a public health issue.

  • The shooting in Monterey Park over the Lunar New Year weekend is serving yet another reminder of how random acts of mass violence can be. We talk about the impact mass violence has on mental health.

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