Gun Violence Prevention Forum to Focus On Inner Cities and Communities of Color

November 17, 2020

Gun Violence: The rising toll of gun violence across cities and communities of color has increased tensions in areas that have already been disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), social unrest and an economic recession.

In response, Northwell Health will host the second annual Gun Violence Prevention Forum, which will join leaders across health care and other fields to actively discuss how to address the bloodshed in these communities and gun violence as a public health issue. The conference will highlight the critical issues facing gun violence in the US, including public policy, advocacy and the role of government; corporate America and finding a middle ground; and health care partnerships that make a difference.

Due to the pandemic, the event will be held virtually at 11 a.m. on December 10. Registration is currently open.

“Gun violence is a public health emergency and it’s on us to keep the conversation going and work together to find solutions,” said Michael Dowling, Northwell’s president and CEO. “We have a great opportunity here to find common ground, speak about what is truly happening in our inner cities and other communities, and fix it. Our communities deserve better.”

Among the headline speakers are:

  • Michael Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies, co-founder of Everytown for Gun Safety and Mayor of New York City (2002-2013) who cut crime by a third while reducing incarceration by nearly 40 percent.
  • Former US Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the youngest woman ever elected to Arizona State Senate who was the victim of gun violence when she was shot in the head during a mass shooting that killed six people and injured 12 others.
  • Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, who has fought for solutions to gun violence after 20 children and six educators were killed in a mass shooting at Elementary School.
  • John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety, the largest gun violence prevention organization in the US.

In addition, the event will spotlight rising gun violence in cities across the US. New York City, for example, had endured more than 500 shootings in the first six months of 2020 and more than double the amount it had from June 2019 to this June. In July, nearly every person shot (about 100 total) had been a person of color.

Minority communities have also struggled in Chicago, where gun violence increased 76 percent the first half of 2020, as compared to the same timeframe in 2019. Nearly all of the shootings happened in Chicago’s predominantly Black and brown communities on the South and West Sides.

Erica Ford, CEO of Life Camp, Inc., one of the leading violence prevention and intervention organizations in the US, will provide insight on the issues facing communities of color, and Thomas Jackiewicz, president of the University of Chicago Medical Center, and Peter Slavin, MD, president of Massachusetts General Hospital, who established the hospital’s Center for Gun Violence Prevention, will discuss health care collaboration.

“We have an outstanding roster of experts who can not only speak to the issues of gun violence, but who are living it every day,” said Chethan Sathya, MD, director of Northwell’s Center for Gun Violence Prevention and a pediatric trauma surgeon. “As a pediatric surgeon, I too have experienced this firsthand, having pulled bullets out of babies. It’s a growing issue and we need to continue to have these important discussions to provide the attention it needs.”

Gun violence is a public health issue

Northwell’s inaugural Gun Violence Prevention Forum in 2019 leveraged the power of a $3.5 trillion health care industry to find ways of stopping the unnecessary violence and increase awareness of gun violence as a public health issue. Mr. Dowling closed the event by pledging $1 million toward Northwell’s effort, which helped create the health system’s Center for Gun Violence Prevention.

During the summer, Northwell established the Gun Violence Prevention Learning Collaborative — a national, first-of-its-kind, multiyear, multiphase platform that joins gun violence prevention experts from health care and community-based organizations to collectively share knowledge and expertise while developing best practices.

In September, Northwell secured $1.4 million from the National Institutes of Health to study gun violence prevention and establish the “We Ask Everyone. Firearm Safety is a Health Issue” research study, which instituted universally screenings those at risk of firearm injury at three hospitals within the health system. Emergency department clinicians are now asking patients specific questions about having firearms in their homes and determine their risk of injury.

“As we’ve learned this year with the pandemic, social injustices and excessive gun violence, it will take us all working together to make significant change,” Mr. Dowling said. “The Gun Violence Prevention Forum will continue our momentum. But rest assured, we won’t stop until we finally have viable solutions for gun violence.”

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