Dr. David M. Carlisle, President and CEO of CDU (Courtesy photo)

The 2023 8th Annual Charles R. Drew President’s Breakfast took place virtually on Feb. 23 and live-streamed nationwide. Informed voices gathered for a thoughtful conversation on an important topic between leaders and innovators – “Gun Violence in America: A Public Health Emergency.”

The assembly was hosted by Dr. David M. Carlisle, CDU president and CEO, and moderated by Dr. Deborah Prothrow-Stith, professor and dean of the College of Medicine.

“No prior topic has been engulfed in tragedy as the one we’re seeking to address today. Gun violence has been an ongoing epidemic for some time. Some will say we’ve had a gun problem in America since the Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights was ratified in 1791,” Stith said.

Dr. Deborah Prothrow-Stith (Courtesy photo)

State Attorney General Rob Bonta, the keynote speaker, the launched the California Department of Justice’s first-in-the-nation Office of Gun Violence Prevention, a unit dedicated to involving strategies and working with stakeholders across the state to address the gun violence epidemic. He reflected on the gun violence of recent days.

“Less than two full months into 2023, there have already been more than 70 mass shootings. Every bullet has the power to leave a victim. Our children deserve to grow up in a world better and safer than this. Not just in their classrooms, but in their neighborhoods and communities. And they don’t just deserve safety — they’re demanding it. We can do more, because this moment demands more,” said Bonta.

Dr. Garen Wintemute, chair of Violence Prevention at University of California-Davis, framed the role of medicine as “the guardian of public health and safety.”

Dr. Fernando Rejón (Courtesy photo)

“One adult in eight knows at least one person that they believe could pose an imminent risk of harming themselves or others. For you to make maximum inroads into preventing deaths and injuries from gun violence, you need to prevent people from getting shot in the first place,” Wintemute said.

“From 2019 to 2020, the first year of the pandemic, we had the largest increase in homicides that we had ever seen. We had an increase in firearm suicide from 2020 to 2021, and 2022 will be worse. If gun violence isn’t a public health problem, then why are so many people dying from it?” he asked.

Chuck D. (Courtesy photo)

Meanwhile, Dr. Fernando Rejón, executive director of the Urban Peace Institute, reflected on the unseen impact of gun violence — suicide.

“It’s important to acknowledge that because it’s overlooked and we don’t hear about it. But we’re burying friends and family members everyday. That is the unseen violence,” he noted.

“Community violence is number two. People in our communities have been dealing with gun violence for generations. Even within the larger gun safety movement, the focus was on changing the laws around guns. But how guns came to our communities didn’t matter for a long time. Now, we’re shining light on it,” said Rejón.

Dr. Garen Wintemute (Courtesy photo)

More insightful comments were shared by Chuck D, executive director of ”Fight The Power: How Hip Hop Changed The World” on PBS and co-founder of legendary rap group Public Enemy.  Over the years, the group’s music has brought the plight of gun violence and repression in Black and Brown communities to the attention of the broader population in the U.S. and across the world.

“The culture of music and art is a reflection of society. When we talk about gun culture in the US, we can go back to this nation’s founding and the wars fought with other countries. This issue is a governmental and societal issue so deep that it reflects on itself,” remarked Chuck D.

“How do you get a gun?! In my hometown of Roosevelt, Long Island back in ‘75, getting a gun was inconceivable! But in ‘76-’77, a different type of drug emerged. The cocaine wars were happening in Manhattan. To protect that interest, guns became prevalent and school shootings became the norm. But where were they coming from? That question has never been answered,” observed the rapper.

The event was presented by Torrey Pines Bank and sponsored in part by UCLA Geffen School of Medicine.

To hear the full presentation, visit https://bit.ly/3F0CyNF .


Links: https://bit.ly/3HzxJwo, https://bit.ly/3GUi1KC .