BOSTON, Jan. 20 (UPI) -- Three Harvard experts say the best way to curb U.S. gun violence is to take the broad public health approach used to curb smoking, car crashes and poisonings.
Preventive cardiologist Dariush Mozaffarian and David Hemenway of the Harvard School of Public Health, and David Ludwig, director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at Boston Children's Hospital and professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, said gun violence is a public health problem and changing social norms is a fundamental public health strategy.
"Gun violence is a public health crisis, and addressing this will require a comprehensive, multi-dimensional public health strategy," Mozaffarian, the lead author, said in a statement.
One "off-the-shelf" approach could be borrowed from efforts used in the 1970s to prevent accidental poisonings when child safety packaging was introduced.
In the case of guns, a similar strategy would be the manufacture of "smart guns" with security codes or locking devices. Also, routine education and counseling by physicians and national networks for education and prevention helped significantly reduce childhood poisoning deaths; similar efforts could help curb gun-related deaths, Mozaffarian said.
Public health efforts to reduce motor vehicle deaths such as driver education, licensing and drunken-driving legislation could also be used to curb gun violence, the researchers said.
In a viewpoint article published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association the researchers wrote: The media, celebrities, peers, teachers and physicians worked together to "de-glorify" cigarettes -- previously seen as symbols of power, modernity, and sexuality -- an analogous campaign could justifiably equate gun violence with weakness, irrationality, and cowardice and reduce its glorification in movies, television and video games.