Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday that the “horrifying” spate of mass shootings in the U.S. shows why gun violence is a public health issue.
“As a public health person, I think you can’t run away from that,” Fauci said on CNN’s “State of the Union” when host Dana Bash asked if gun violence is a “public health emergency.”
“I mean, in this last month, it’s just been horrifying,” replied Fauci, the U.S. government’s foremost infectious disease expert. “How can you say that’s not a public health issue?”
The question came in the aftermath of Thursday’s mass shooting at an Indianapolis FedEx facility, where nine people were left dead, including the gunman.
Another eight people were killed in the Atlanta area last month, when a shooter attacked spa businesses. And 10 people were killed last month in a supermarket in Boulder, Colo. All the incidents put together, CNN reported, totaled to more than 40 mass shootings in the past month.
Earlier this month, President Biden called gun violence an “epidemic” and “international embarrassment” when he announced a half-dozen executive actions on issues such as homemade firearms. The modest rules stopped short of Biden’s more ambitious proposals made on the campaign trail.
Mass shootings occurred much less frequently last year during the coronavirus pandemic and related lockdowns. According to the Associated Press, 2020 had the smallest number of such shootings in more than a decade.
Former President Barack Obama, who had to repeatedly address mass shootings during his eight years in office, argued after the Boulder shooting last month that the U.S. can’t rely on a “once-in-a-century pandemic” to slow such attacks.
“We shouldn’t have to choose between one type of tragedy and another,” Obama said, pushing for political leaders to enact reforms to make it harder for some people to purchase firearms.
Twenty-five years ago, Congress banned the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from spending money to “advocate or promote gun control.” But in 2019, Congress allocated $25 million to the CDC and National Institutes of Health in order to study the issue.
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