Jackson, Miss., turns to innovative program to lower its gun deaths

JACKSON, Mississippi capital city is undergoing an experiment designed to stop an epidemic of gun violence that claimed 84 lives in 2018 and less than two months into 2019 took 16.

If successful, it could serve as a model throughout the South and perhaps the nation.

Typically, gun violence is viewed from a Second Amendment perspective, which is not always effective from a public health perspective. Dr. Howard Henderson, the director of the Center for Justice Research Center at Texas Southern University. CJR researchers are studying youth gun violence in depth with other universities and research facilities, searching for reasons why young men in urban areas choose to carry firearms.

Another approach is needed, said Howard Henderson, a professor at Texas Southern University, and the director of The Center for Justice Research, which looks at gun violence from a public health perspective.

Henderson and many medical professionals, such as the American Medical Association, are beginning to approach gun violence from a public health perspective, one that requires a comprehensive public health response and solution. It begins with data-gathering and research to understand the cause and effect of gun violence on the community, similar to a scientist studying an infectious disease to prevent it from spreading.

“To prevent something from occurring, you need to have the facts, that’s pretty much what preventative medicine does; it minimizes trauma,” Henderson said. “When you think of it from a public health perspective, you want to prevent the spread of infectious disease. Well, what is gun violence but a virus, which traumatizes not just those involved with it directly, the shooter and the victim, but the community as well.”

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