June 02, 2022

UHA statement on gun violence

Utah’s hospital community joins other Americans in grieving for the victims and families involved in the mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, New York. We extend our condolences to the families of those who died, the injured and traumatized survivors, and the tragically affected communities.  

These were tragic, senseless, and unnecessary. Unfortunately, these mass murders follow a terrible string of similar shootings across the United States. 

The count is high. According to Education Week, since 2018, there have been 119 school shootings in the United States in which a shooter killed or wounded at least one person, claiming 88 lives and injuring 229. Countless other children and teachers witnessed or were threatened by those shootings and felt the traumatic aftermath. Our children face regular active shooting drills, understanding the real possibility that they might be murdered or watch their fellow students and teachers be slain in — of all places — their school classrooms.

Moreover, school shootings do not occur regularly in any other place except the United States. This problem is now in our national psyche, and we must deal with it — together. 

Our public policy response to school shootings has been unsatisfactory. Governments and various elements of our society have done far more arguing and blaming each other rather than searching for real solutions. We can do more to prevent violence in schools. In many cases, if not most, the perpetrators have manifested signs that they are considering or planning acts of violence. It is time that we quit fruitless political posturing and face this problem head on. It is time for us to throw out the myths and wrestle with the root causes affecting families, schools, communities, states, and the country. We cannot passively accept any more of these tragedies.

These shootings have caused trauma not only to those directly affected, but others in the affected communities and all Americans at a level that mass shootings pose a public health crisis. Utah’s hospitals have a unique and special mission to advance public health and to help Utahns avoid and treat disease, accidents, trauma, and mental illness. The Utah Hospital Association pledges to work with others to study school and other mass shootings and to gather and publicize the best policies and practices to predict and prevent school and other mass shootings. We pledge to work cooperatively with elected officials to advocate for sound policies and procedures to reduce the future mayhem these shootings will surely cause if we continue to stand paralyzed in inaction.

We call on our government leaders to grapple urgently and honestly with this scourge in our society and do much more to protect our students and teachers. Leaders can make meaningful changes on behalf of children in ways children cannot do so for themselves.

Finally, we call on our fellow citizens, school officials, government, community and business leaders, faith-based groups, community groups, and individuals and groups who advocate for preserving Second Amendment freedoms to stand with us against violence. Join us in seeking and implementing effective prevention, prediction and security measures to protect our citizens in schools and other public places. 

We urge all responsible citizens and groups to join us in forming and supporting an ongoing Utah-based initiative dedicated to preventing and securing our schools and other public places from attacks by persons using deadly weapons. 

Years from now, we hope our children will have reason to thank us.

Greg Bell, UHA President/CEO