To the Editor: Guns are a legal part of the American culture, enjoyed by a meaningful proportion of U.S. citizens. Guns are deadly.

It is long past time to address the perceived conflict between these two statements with meaningful action to reduce our country’s burden of firearm-related injury and death. Now is the time to treat gun violence as the public health issue it is. It is time to turn the conversation from gun control to gun safety.

The New Hampshire Public Health Association (NHPHA) believes that a focus on gun safety dictates a clear path forward. We must gather data and information regarding gun violence, design and rigorously test policies to prevent such violence, and thoughtfully implement proven strategies to reduce the burden of related injury and death.

Existing research gun violence prevention suggests a place to start. Comprehensive background checks, an approach that enjoys overwhelming support from Americans, including members of the NRA, when combined with rigorous permit to purchase laws, can meaningfully diminish the diversion of guns to criminals. A number of other policies, as enumerated in our organizational position statement on gun violence prevention found on our website similarly hold great promise to turn the tide on gun violence in the U.S.

The recent Parkland shootings have galvanized advocacy for gun violence reduction. The NHPHA wholeheartedly supports these efforts. In so doing, we seek to not debate the constitutionality of guns. We are here to make living in a country with legal gun ownership safer.

REBECCA SKY

President

New Hampshire Public Health Association