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June 27, 2013
Gun Violence Certainly Not Taking a Holiday on 4th of July, Memorial Day
MAYWOOD, Ill. - As American as apple pie are fireworks on the 4th of July, barbeques on Memorial Day and, of course, parties at friends’ and relatives’ homes where alcoholic drinks flow freely. The downside of the holidays traditionally has been an increase in DUI and traffic fatalities and burn injuries from fireworks and outdoor grills. Now violence and shootings are becoming an unwelcome aspect of holiday celebrations.
“I am anticipating injuries from firearms, not fireworks this 4th of July,” said Thomas Esposito, MD, MPH, medical director of the Division of Trauma, Surgical Critical Care and Burns in the Department of Surgery at Loyola University Medical Center. “Violence has now become embedded in the very fabric of American culture."
An estimated 86 deaths occur each day in America due to firearms.
“On Father’s Day weekend, there were 47 people shot and nine killed while Memorial Day saw 11 shot and six killed, in Chicago alone - far more than those killed in traffic incidents over both holidays around the city,” said Esposito, who heads the only Level I Trauma Center in Illinois that is accredited by the American College of Surgeons.
“Unfortunately, we can likely expect the same trend to continue on July 4th as well with gunshots far exceeding injuries from fireworks and car crashes. You can imagine the havoc and consequences wrought on families, the local community and society by this interpersonal violence,” he said.
Esposito believes gun violence is a public health epidemic. “Violence should be treated as a disease, much the same as we now consider obesity, or even West Nile Virus: It’s a public health scourge!” he said.
The trauma surgeon, who also has earned a master’s degree in public health, points out that the public health approach to disease control, of any type, is multifaceted. As it applies to violence, control involves strategies applied to the potential victim, the potential assailant, the potential weapon and the environment in which they interact, either before, during or after the violent incident. The strategies to accomplish this involve technology, education, enactment/ enforcement of laws and economic incentives/disincentives. All of these need to be applied in combination and in tandem. There is no single fix.
“Just think about it. This is how we have controlled smoking,” Esposito said. He recommends America take control of the entire violence event, not just focus on the gun as the nation seems to have done thus far, with little noticeable effect.
Alarming Gun Violence Statistics
Did you know:
- The average hospital cost for an finger or limb amputation from fireworks is $15,600; for a gunshot wound, it is $540,000.
- Handguns account for 80 percent of gun violence.
- In more than 50 percent of shootings either the victim, the shooter or both drank alcohol just before the shooting.
- Of deaths from gunfire in the home, 50 percent of victims knew their assailant, while the same could be said of only 20 percent in home invasions and a mere 1 percent in justifiable homicides, i.e. in self defense.
“What we need is an Independence Day free from fear and sorrow of gun violence,” Esposito said. “Now that would be something to celebrate!”
Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and more than 30 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. The medical center campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of the Chicago Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. The heart of the medical center campus is a 559-licensed-bed hospital that houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children's Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as the LUC Stritch School of Medicine, the LUC Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola's Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 255-licensed-bed community hospital, the Professional Office Building housing 150 private practice clinics, the Adult Day Care, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.