Transformational vs. Transactional Attitudes Towards Gun Violence as a Public Health Concern in America

Transformational vs. Transactional Attitudes Towards Gun Violence as a Public Health Concern in America

Allison J. Huff, Darrell Norman Burrell, Eugene J. Lewis, Sharon L. Burton
DOI: 10.4018/IJPPPHCE.314154
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The context of transformational gun violence is an inherent issue of a need for change in the American dichotomy of access. The transactional gun violence is the given exchange in gun ownership. Daily, more than 500 individuals perish from gun violence. The total number of global homicides consist of 44% of the world's population. Statistics demonstrate hospital data show an increase in gun violence over the last decade. Increased murders but overall lower crime suggest a growing gun problem. Gun violence must be confronted as a holistic public health challenge. This article explores gun violence as a transformational and transactional public health issue and makes some focused recommendations from the literature of how we can address this significant public health and health disparity problem.
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Public health experts primarily focus on the broader complex problem of firearms-related injury and mortality in the United States, where each year approximately 32,000 people are killed with guns - about 19,000 of them by their own hand and another. Another 74,000 people are fall victim to nonfatal gunshot incidences (Swanson et al., 2015). In 1992, after the increases in major crime that plagued the country during the Reagan and Bush Administration, national murder rate exceeded 10 deaths per 100,000 (Donohue et al., 2019; Donohue, 2022; Mascia, 2021). In 2014, the nation saw a decrease to 4.4 deaths per 100,000, followed by an increase of nearly 6.5% deaths per 100,000 by 2020 (Donohue et al., 2019). These statistics suggest that as unabated access increases to gun purchases, an upward trend in death toll in America seems to follow (Helmore, 2021). The COVID-19 pandemic contributed to some of the social unrest, particularly following the death of George Floyd by law enforcement (Donohue, 2022; Mascia, 2021). News and social media coverage related to his death ignited a strong reaction from many regarding violence across the country (Donohue, 2022). In some of the United States’ largest cities, the number of deaths per 100,000 people is startling: Chicago, IL = 33 deaths per 100,000 individuals; Los Angeles, CA = 31 deaths per 100,000 individuals; New York, NY = 27 deaths per 100,000 individuals; Houston, TX = 27 deaths per 100,000 individuals (Donohue et al., 2019).

Gun violence, violence committed with assault rifles, pistols, machine guns or shotguns, in the U.S. is a public health concern and a public health dilemma (Cohen, 2021; Hassanein, 2022; Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 2017). It includes attempted death by suicide, homicide, death by suicide, unintentional death and injury, and violent crime (American Academy of Family Physicians [AAFP], 2019; Resnick, 2017). It is a primary cause of early deaths and accounts for more than four out of every 10 deaths (CDC, 2022). There are significant complexities to addressing gun violence in the United States surrounding beliefs and issues close to the hearts of many Americans, such as constitutional rights, poverty, mental health, political agendas, big corporations, to name a few. Addressing gun violence requires a multidisciplinary approach (Hargarten, et al., 2017). Transformational attitudes towards guns violence are imperative for public servants serving in political forums. If America does not adopt a transformational aptitude towards gun violence, murder rates will likely continue to rise (Helmore, 2021). According to Amnesty International (2022), every day, over 500 individuals perish due to gun violence and in relation to the total number of global homicides, 44% encompass gun violence. Many people hold strong beliefs regarding the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the right to bear arms, creating a political climate that often impedes the public health response to addressing gun violence. However, while the political divide continues, so does the high number of death by gun violence in the United States, particularly impacting certain populations (Wen and Sadeghi, 2020). Table 1 shows the crime statistics for one of the areas most afflicted by gun violence in the United States, Chicago, Illinois.

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