Letter to the Editor

BY DI STAFF | JANUARY 25, 2011 7:10 AM

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The danger of firearms

Guns are a health hazard.

The people who were killed and wounded in the Arizona shooting are less healthy than they were before the shooting. Even the people who escaped direct physical injury but experienced the trauma of the event have less vigorous health than they had before.

This is not a difficult concept. Shooting is a hazard to health. We regulate other threats to public health but allow the threat from gunshot trauma to remain in our community. In Iowa, we have actually reduced the protection citizen health has enjoyed from possible gunshot trauma. We regulate water quality, we require childhood immunizations, we concern ourselves with food safety, and more. All of these actions are important safeguards to our health as a community.

But we do little to protect Iowa citizens from gunshot trauma, even when gunshot health risks are 100 percent preventable. In fact, recent Iowa legislation required county sheriffs, in the vast majority of cases, to issue gun permits regardless of the sheriff’s reservations about the applicant’s qualifications. Current conversation in Des Moines suggests that gun restrictions in Iowa will be further reduced.

There is nothing in the Second Amendment to our U.S. Constitution that requires each of us to be exposed to a known, preventable, serious health risk. Being shot by a gun is clearly detrimental to your health.

This is not a difficult concept. Guns are dangerous. Guns bring a threat to community health, and members of our community deserve to have their health safeguarded. The League of Women Voters of Iowa supports the right of citizens to live in an environment in which known health hazards are recognized and eliminated or, at least, minimized. We look to our legislators to do all they can to eliminate the known, preventable, serious health risks that guns bring to our community. The League urges all citizens to remind their government representatives that each citizen has a right to live in the healthiest reasonable community environment. Guns are a health hazard that can be eliminated; it is time to take action.

Myrna Loehrlein, Ph.D.
president, League of Women Voters of Iowa

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