June is Gun Violence Awareness Month. In 2017, there were 39,773 deaths in the United States involving guns; 23,854 were suicides. This is almost 3,000 more people killed with guns than the previous year ⁠— it is an increase of 10,000 from 1999 and the highest it has been since gun mortality data was first recorded in 1979. Nearly 109 people died every single day from gun violence in 2017. For Gun Violence Awareness Month we are highlighting the public health crisis and the barriers that are keeping effective prevention from being implemented.

Before 1996 the Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) was charged with researching gun violence, much in the way that the CDC researched deaths from car crashes and the life-saving effects of seatbelts and child car seats. Following a 1993 study that connected gun ownership with a higher risk of being the victim of a homicide by a family member or intimate acquaintance, the National Rifle

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The Public Health System

In 2016, there were 36,978 deaths in the United States involving guns. This includes 732 children and 3,234 teenagers; 21,386 were suicides and 346 of the events are considered mass shootings (the FBI defines mass shootings as when four or more people are shot and/or killed in a single event at the same general time and location, not including the shooter). Despite disagreements on certain measures among Americans, gun violence can certainly be considered a public health issue in the U.S.

Before 1996, the Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) was charged with researching gun violence, much in the way that the CDC researched deaths from car crashes and the life-saving effects of seatbelts and child car seats. Following a 1993 study that connected gun ownership with a higher risk of being the victim of a homicide by a family member or intimate acquaintance, the National Rifle Association (NRA) responded by lobbying for the elimination for the CDC’s Center for Injury Prevention. While the Center

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Violent crime is a reality throughout the world, including the US.  According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), over 1.1 million violent crimes occurred nationwide in 2014.  The FBI defines violent crime as including aggravated assault, rape, robbery, murder and manslaughter. Despite steady drops in crime rates, violence still affects millions of Americans every year. Victims of violent crimes may suffer financial stress resulting from medical bills, lost wages, or funeral costs. Recovering from violence can be difficult enough; fortunately, there are state programs to help those in need.

The first victim compensation program was created in 1965 in California. By 1972, nine additional states were operating similar programs. The Victims of Crime Act of 1984 established the federal Crime Victims Fund. These programs are funded with fines, fees, and forfeitures from violent offenders rather than tax dollars at both state and federal levels.

There are crime victim compensation programs in every state (and Washington, D.C.).

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