February 14, 2019

Cook County Health (CCH) urges legislators to take action to reduce gun violence on the first anniversary that claimed 17 lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

“The calls for regulation and research are gaining more traction than ever before, and should be heeded,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. “Yet they come heartbreakingly too late for the thousands of Americans who are injured or killed by gun violence every year.”

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every day, 96 people are killed by guns in the US and another 192 are injured by them.

In 2018, Stroger Hospital cared for more than 950 patients with gunshot wounds, spending nearly $40 million. This only includes the cost of initial hospital treatment, not the extensive outpatient or rehabilitation many patients require.

“As a trauma surgeon, there is nothing more painful than seeing the life of a young person – or any person – disrupted or destroyed because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time,” said Dr. Faran Bokhari, Chairman, Cook County Trauma & Burn Unit. “We are tired of telling our patients and their families that they need one more surgery or that they won’t walk again because someone had access to a weapon that was intended for the battlefield. This is senseless and it is our job to do anything and everything we can to protect our communities,” Bokhari said.

In 2018, nearly 3,000 people were shot in Chicago and according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office, there were 599 gun-related homicides in Cook County. Despite Chicago and Illinois having some of the strictest gun laws in the United States, it continues to be the epicenter of this modern public health epidemic. The experience in Chicago and Illinois demonstrates why state-by-state laws are not sufficient and why we need federal gun control laws.

CCH supports common sense gun regulations and other measure to combat the mortality and morbidity caused by firearms including:

• A ban on high-capacity automatic/semi-automatic firearms bump stocks and silencers
• Strengthening permitting and universal background checks
• Requiring anyone who sells a gun to have a dealer license
• Requiring reporting of a lost or stolen gun within 48 hours
• Funding research on gun violence to develop public health initiatives
• Investing in more trauma informed care services to support victims of gun violence in their recovery.