Today’s National Public Health Week guest post is by David Richards, project coordinator with the Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge at APHA. Tuesday’s NPHW theme is violence prevention.

Tuesday: Violence PreventionWhen you compare the United States to other developed countries, there is one category in particular that sets this nation apart: violence. When you look at the data, Americans are not necessarily more prone to violence, but we do have access to a tool that dramatically increases the severity and lethality of an act of violence. That tool is the firearm.

Countries with more guns have more deaths. In fact, the U.S. leads other nations with 29.7 homicides by firearm annually per 1 million people. The next closest is Switzerland at 7.7 homicides. To make matters worse, gun-related deaths are on the rise. National data from 2015-2016 found the U.S. was home to nearly 27,400 homicides and nearly 45,000 suicides involving guns.

“There are estimates that say we have enough firearms for every man, woman and child in this country and that’s problematic,” said Mighty Fine, director of the Center for Public Health Practice and Professional Development at the American Public Health Association. I spoke with Fine during a recent interview for an episode of the Healthy Communities podcast.

Mighty Fine“The great thing about public health is that it allows us to look at the collective impact. We can think about social capital, and we know that neighborhoods that lack social capital or lack social cohesion are more prone to violence,” Fine said. “Through a public health lens, we can think about structural racism and other structural forces that exacerbate violence in certain communities.”

In the episode, Fine dives into the topic of violence prevention and injury, including access to firearms and local solutions to youth development and community building. The episode is part of APHA’s National Public Health Week, a celebration of public health across the county. This year’s theme is “Creating the Healthiest Nation: For science. For action. For health.”

To listen to the podcast, go to the Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge podcast page. The podcast is also available on iTunes and Spotify. To learn more about National Public Health Week, visit the website.