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Thursday, 17 January 2013

Gun control proposal in the US. Brilliant public health policy development

If you are not impressed with President Obama’s proposals on controlling gun violence, you should be,    some will call it very bold.   It is  at least politically astute.  In the two party political system of the US, it takes an issue with clear political lines, and has carved a ditch in the sand.

This site has discussed gun control on several occasions for its public health benefit, most recently in  Another shot at peace .  There is no need to further discuss the public health merits of gun control, that has never been the issue.  Gun control is one potential intervention to address the excessive number of firearms related deaths in the US and choosing between equivalent options is as much a political choice as based in solid evidence. 

Look however at the process and the proposal as a solid example of policy development.   In the weeks leading up to the proposal, there were innumerable public polls demonstrating support for increased controls on guns.   The topic received a disproportionate amount of air time on the news media, even if CNN clearly was unbalanced in presenting a predominately pro-gun position. 

Ultimately, there were hearings and solid submissions from health organizations on the detriment of firearms and the health benefits that can be accrued through specific policy directions.   Many of these were directly included in the Obama proposals. 

Of course,  when a substantive majority of Americans are asking for tighter controls because of the school shooting tragedy, making a proposal for substantive leap in control becomes easier, and the President did not disappoint.  

All that rests in the way of change is a tenuous Republican party that stands to lose considerable political credibility no matter what it does, and hence the brilliance of the policy proposal.   To not support the proposal would fly in the face of what is a clear majority.   To not object will alienate the far right of the party, who garnish an incredible level of power and money.   It will take a masterful policy strategist to steer any concerted opposition that holds the Republicans as a cohesive group.  

Tea parties may soon be replaced by Hunting parties.

Check out an excellent synthesis of the proposals, direct issues, and actions through the APHA who have been instrumental in contributing to the reform proposals Public Health newswire Jan 17th.  

What a few months ago would have been a shot in the dark, has become a masterfully crafted missile that is right on target.

Unfortunately progress comes on the graves of the twenty-six innocent victims at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown.  

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