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What can the Department of Health and Human Services do to prevent gun violence?

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is essential in ending gun violence. With the dual public health crises of COVID-19 and gun violence, strong leadership in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is more important than ever—and that starts with President Joe Biden naming Xavier Becerra as the new Secretary of HHS and Dr. Vivek Murthy as the new surgeon general. The department can help end gun violence, including gun suicide, city gun violence, and domestic violence, by addressing it as a public health crisis.

Here are some things the Department of Health and Human Services can do to address our nation’s gun violence crisis:

  • Promote secure gun storage and intervention tools like Extreme Risk laws that temporarily remove firearms from people at risk of suicide.
  • Address access to firearms as part of a comprehensive suicide prevention strategy (lethal-means counseling).
  • Use existing grant programs to fund community-based violence intervention programs in communities most impacted by daily gun violence.
  • Develop a plan for long-term investment in communities that have disproportionately suffered from gun violence to address root causes.
  • Lead a robust research program into the causes and solutions of gun violence and use a central office to consolidate and coordinate gun violence prevention research.
  • Collect more complete and timely data on gun deaths and injuries.
  • Improve surveys on gun access, gun ownership and carrying, and the use of guns in domestic violence.

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