NEW YORK, Apr 19 (APP): The U.S. top healthcare official has described the recent spate of mass shootings across America “horrifying” and acknowledged that increased gun violence is a public health emergency.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, made the remarks following last week’s shooting in Indianapolis, Indiana, which claimed eight lives, four of them belonging to the Sikh community.
“How can you say that’s not a public health issue?” Fauci said on CNN’s news programme “State of the Union” on Sunday.
“Myself, as a public health person, I think you can’t run away from that. When you see people getting killed, in this last month it’s just been horrifying what’s happened. How can you say that’s not a public health issue?”, he said while responding to a question.
Earlier, President Biden also weighed in, calling the mass shootings “a national embarrassment” and urged Congress to take action.
“It’s not always these mass shootings that are occurring — every single day, every single day there’s a mass shooting in the United States, if you count all those who are killed out on the streets of our cities and our rural areas,” Biden said Friday during a joint press conference at the White House with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.
“It’s a national embarrassment and must come to an end,” Biden added.
According to data from the Gun Violence Archive, there have been at least 150 mass shootings this year in the US, marking 73 percent increase compared to the same period last year.
The country was hit by a record high 610 mass shootingsin 2020, the highest toll since the organization began tracking the figure in 2014.
Nearly 20,000 Americans died from gun violence last year, more than any year in two decade, according to the Washington Post, while about 24,000 died by suicide using a gun.
This year, the US has averaged more than one mass shooting a day, marking an upward trend since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut, when a 20-year-old man shot and killed 26 people, including 20 children.
The distressing trend has seen manifold increase during the coronavirus pandemic that has already resulted in the death of 500,000 people, making US the worst-affected country in the world.
“Too many Americans are dying every single day from gun violence. It stains our character and pierces the very soul of our nation. We can, and must, do more to act and to save lives,” Fauci said in the interview.
The spate of shootings has also increased public pressure on the Joe Biden administration to tighten gun regulations, which has so far shown reluctance.
According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, most Americans support tougher gun laws, but the successive administrations in the US have done little to address the problem.