Last November, Michael O’Hear offered an interesting post on whether a Seventh Circuit decision that developed a new test for Second Amendment claims would breath life into the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, 128 S. Ct. 2783 (2008), which for the first time interpreted the Second Amendment as conferring an individual right to possess and use firearms. Two years after Heller was handed down, I have been wondering about its consequences, too, in the context of public health policy.
Historically, gun-related violence and accidents were not viewed as a public health matter. Rather, gun violence was considered a matter for the criminal justice system; gun-related suicides were seen as a concern for the mental health system; and gun accidents were viewed as best handled by educational safety courses. Perceptions changed, however, with the advent of the field of injury prevention in the 1970s. When all gun violence and accidents were considered together, guns were found to be the second-leading cause of injury deaths in the U.S.