Prevent the Bleed: How Surgeons Can Lead the National Conversation About Firearm Safety Forward

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Abstract

In the 5 years since the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting that claimed the lives of 20 children and 6 of their teachers, we have witnessed intolerably more mass shooting events. In the intervening years, over 150,000 Americans have died because of firearm violence, 3 times the number who lost their lives during the Revolutionary war. In the last 2 months, we have been left reflecting on 2 more tragedies. The first came on October 1 in Las Vegas, at the Route 91 music festival where 58 were killed and over 500 injured by a single gunman. The second, on November 5, took place in Sutherland Springs, Texas (population 600) near San Antonio and claimed the lives of 26 men women and children while they prayed. As was witnessed in Orlando and San Bernardino, these most recent mass casualty incidents strained first responders, law enforcement, and the state's trauma systems to their breaking point.

Once again, we were left searching for the reasons behind these tragedies asking predictable questions: who did this and why? Was it part of a terrorist plot or a lone psychopath with a grudge? Were the weapons obtained legally, and why would anyone need so many? How can we stop this from happening again?

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