Is Violence a Health Emergency?

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Via KRON4 San Francisco

OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) — Several mass shootings in the Bay Area in less than a month and now a desperate plea to curb gun violence and save lives.

On Thursday, Black and Brown Bay Area community leaders joined together to call on Alameda County officials to declare gun violence a public health crisis.

The declaration would come with much needed resources. – KRON4 San Fransisco

This is something that continues to baffle me. Violence as a ‘health’ problem in and of itself instead of the by products of violence being health issues.

Injuries are health issues. Cuts, bruises, trauma both physical and mental, wounds, all of those are absolutely medical issues. If we use a broad and nebulous term like ‘violence’ to encompass the source of those injuries and then we are opening up an extreme and probably overly vague causation can of worms.

If we are treating injuries as the result of violence by framing it the same way we do heart disease and cancer, that may have merit from a perspective or framing standpoint.

However, when that starts to drift into policy it becomes a much more difficult item to justify. The method uses analogy, but when it comes to funding the problems cures the analogy loses its value. We can’t fund preventive medicine by analogy.

Unlike heart disease, cancer, or pneumonia, there isn’t a healthier ‘thing’ you can do that will keep someone from trying to kill you over your wallet, car, or shoes. You cannot take a vitamin that makes you appear less confrontational or less like a potential mark for a crime against your person. There is a form a physical therapy that can assist, but empowering self defense goes against the grain for many who think along these lines.

Why would we argue that body autonomy should extend all the way to shutting down someone else’s body, temporarily or permanently, if their body is violently encroaching upon yours?

Crazy I know.

But because of how funding works in governmental problem solving, if ‘Gun Violence’ gets declared a medical problem, then medically slated money can be spent on it. One could argue that as long the problem gets funding to help towards its solving, the wordage should not matter.

But when it comes to the government wording always matters. Setting legal precedent matters. Setting trends for how things are thought about matters. It isn’t as if a blank check will get written from the CDC and they can cash it in at the Hospital for EMS and the Police Station for increased patrols and investigative assets. That is not how funding works. Even when it is released it still has rules attached on how it gets spent and tracked. It would have to go into some variant of “research” instead of hiring more officers and EMS staff.

If, and it’s a big if, funding could be used in a more ‘community preventive’ fashion it would still be underwhelmingly restricted. It would still be chasing the effects instead of preventing the causatives.

Violence is about a gain. Gain isn’t a medical condition, it is a fiscal transaction. With the exception of justifiable violence, something that our joint cultures does embrace on the grand scale, violence is the illicit gain of money or status. Justifiable violence tends to take the form of resisting an illicit attempt at violence.

Violence is a conscious choice, asthma isn’t. Name the medical condition and it isn’t a conscious choice. Even ‘preventables’ like reducing the likelihood of lung cancer through smoking are not the same when you get down into the definition this far. Smoking is a choice, but if getting cancer was a choice everyone would be choosing no. You don’t choose a side effect just because you risk it.

It’s an equally insane argument to say Cops or Soldiers choose to get assaulted, shot at, blown up, and die. No they don’t, those are risks. Choosing is conscious. Violence is a choice.

So no, violence is not a health emergency. If funds need to come from medical budgets to help communities with violence, then those funds need to be freed of medical stipulations. Half measures and funding by misdefining a subject is going to continue a cycle of poor results.

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