Reckoning with Gun Violence: Four Voices from the Front Lines

Exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, gun violence is rising to record levels, both across the country and in Philadelphia. In Penn Medicine magazine, experts close to the epidemic of community violence speak up about the toll and call for bold, urgent solutions.

While gun violence has been an epidemic for decades, the need for understanding and action is only growing. In Philadelphia, 2021 was a record-breaking year for homicides, most of them due to shootings, and the number of nonfatal gun injuries climbed into the thousands. For the physicians who treat these violent traumas, every night on call becomes a night they are prepared to face a family’s tragedy.

But, after decades, the landscape of battle has shifted: This gun violence has converged with the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as with the rising movement for racial justice. In 2021, too, U.S. federal agencies have once again begun distributing grants for research into gun violence, a freeze on such funding now thawed after nearly two decades.

And there are also new opportunities for change.

At this pivotal moment — mired in a long and deepening crisis, yet informed by more years of insight from new angles — four individuals at the front line share their perspectives.

See more in Penn Medicine Magazine