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Joe Biden demonstrates public health approach will solve America's ills

Joe Biden demonstrates public health approach will solve America's ills
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In his address to Congress last week and in his American Families Plan, President BidenJoe BidenExpanding child tax credit could lift 4 million children out of poverty: analysis Maria Bartiromo defends reporting: 'Keep trashing me, I'll keep telling the truth' The Memo: The center strikes back MORE has shown us that he will take a comprehensive, evidence-based, public health approach to solving our nation’s most entrenched problems.

He’s shown us this since day one. On his second day in office, he released a national strategy to address the coronavirus pandemic. Less than two months into his presidency, Congress passed a historic stimulus to support programs, communities and individuals affected by the pandemic. He has filled his cabinet with experts and has instructed leaders to address issues from multiple policy fronts and agencies, including appointing science advisors to help cabinet secretaries solve our nation’s problems with facts and evidence. He is listening to experts and taking a public health approach. In many ways, he is our Public Health President — and we will all be better off for it.

For gun violence prevention, President Biden has shown that he understands that our nation’s gun violence epidemic is preventable — it’s a public health crisis that demands a public health solution. In his address, he became the first president since Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonThe Memo: The center strikes back Monica Lewinsky responds to viral HBO intern's mistake: 'It gets better' 40-year march: Only one state doesn't recognize Juneteenth MORE to highlight gun violence prevention. And he’s just getting started.

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Nowhere is this clearer than in the $5 billion over eight years that Biden called for in his American Jobs Plan for community violence prevention programs. This is arguably the largest funding for gun violence prevention in our nation’s history and will begin addressing the very root causes of violence in communities across the country.

These programs partner with and work within communities to develop solutions and elevate the voices of community members, which is partly why this funding was included in the American Jobs Plan. These initiatives work to connect community members to job opportunities and training, helping individuals to find work while stopping the traumatizing violence in the community. This is good public policy. It is people-first policy. It's also good economic policy when you take into consideration that gun violence costs Americans upwards of $280 billion annually in direct and indirect costs, including medical costs, first responders and EMT, lost wages, and other costs.

Community violence prevention programs will help reduce violence and reduce those costs, while creating real economic gains for the communities most affected by gun violence. That’s a double win and could be transformational for those economies and for the individuals most impacted by everyday gun violence.

President Biden bolstered the investments proposed in the American Jobs Plan by leveraging existing funds to support community violence intervention, including over $1 billion in funds from the Victims of Crimes Act (VOCA) for FY21, by instructing five federal agencies to alter 26 programs to support community violence intervention initiatives. These investments recognize that we cannot afford to wait to tackle gun violence as a public health epidemic. We must start now if we want to save lives.

From nominating an ATF Director to instructing the Department of Justice to issue the first report on gun trafficking in over 20 years, President Biden demonstrates that he is looking to treat the root causes of this crisis, not just address the symptoms.

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His other executive actions, such as instructing the Department of Justice to issue a rule to stop the proliferation of ghost guns, likewise look at new and emerging threats to public safety. To use his own phrase, President Biden is walking and chewing gum at the same time when it comes to making our country safer.

We heard constant refrains of “listen to science” over the last year as fear of a deadly virus and reactions to lock-down orders swept the country. We finally have a president who is doing just that and is leading with a multidisciplinary approach with broad solutions that will help our fellow Americans.

The solutions Biden is putting forward will not only address the crises we face today, but lay a foundation that will set us on a path for progress and prosperity in the future. For gun violence prevention, it will save lives. 

That’s leadership. 

Kris Brown is president of Brady Campaign. Follow her onTwitter: @KrisB_Brown

Joseph V. Sakran, M.D., M.P.H., M.P.A., is a survivor of gun violence and now a trauma surgeon and associate professor of surgery at Johns Hopkins Medicine. He serves as director of emergency general surgery at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. Follow him on Twitter: @JosephSakran