This Date in UCSF History: Targeting Guns

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Originally published in Synapse - The UCSF student newspaper on October 12, 2000. Guns in the household are 22 times more likely to kill a family member than to kill an intruder, and 80 percent of gun-related homicides involve people who already know each other according to Andres Soto of the Pacific Center for Violence Prevention.

Soto was on campus Oct. 2 making a presentation about First Monday 2000, a nationwide gun violence awareness campaign.

Second-year medical student, Abbey Waller, who attended the First Monday event, was probably not alone in her sentiments when she commented, “I had no idea that simply the presence of a gun could lead to so much unnecessary violence.”

Coordinated by the Alliance for Justice in conjunction with Physicians for Social Responsibility, First Monday brought the issue of American gun violence to the attention of the nation's communities, universities, and schools of medicine, law and public health.

Here at UCSF, Student Health Professionals for Social Responsibility (SHPSR) and the San Francisco chapter of the Million Mom March, organized a showing of the video, “America: Up in Arms,” followed by a discussion moderated by Soto of The Pacific Center for Violence Prevention.

The UCSF presentation highlighted the fact that gun violence is currently the second leading cause of injury-related deaths in the United States after car accidents. Although

many health professionals are aware of the prevalence of domestic violence among their patients, it may not be known that domestic violence often culminates in gun use.

Soto pointed out that in 1997, 393 women — more than one a day — were shot and killed by a husband or significant other during an argument.

Given the number of gun-related homicides, suicides and accidental shootings which occur in the United States every day, Soto challenged the audience to think about the policies currently at issue in the legislative process, which focus on gun safety and availability.

The second leading cause of injury related death in the United States.

Soto claimed that gun violence problems stem from a result of American culture and policies, as indicated by the fact that the US gun death rate is nearly 12 times higher than that of 25 other industrialized countries combined, and over 280 times that of Japan. Yet there is resistance to gun reform.

For example, Texas recently voted down a bill that would limit a person from purchasing more than one gun per month.

Or as one participant put it, “I can't believe that it is easier to get a gun than it is to get a driver’s license.”

First Monday highlights a different justice issue each year and seeks to inspire and mobilize a new generation of social justice advocates.

Soto encouraged the UCSF audience to become active in supporting gun restriction and safety laws and in furthering the discussion of how health professionals can be involved in the campaign to decrease gun violence.