Winter 2016 Gun Violence as a Health Issue

UC San Diego’s Annual Horizons of Global Health Research Symposium is a unique opportunity for Global Health students to present their research about the diversity of global health work around the world. The conference features an undergraduate research poster session and a keynote speaker. This event celebrates the end of the academic year and the success of our graduates.

The second installment of Quarterly Conversations in Global Health was held on Tuesday February 23 from 3:30 to 6:00 PM in the Great Hall at I-House at UC San Diego.


The event opened with an opportunity for students to visit tables to learn more about Global PerspectivesGun Violence Intervention Group ,Siku Njema KeshoMoms Demand Action Against Gun Violence, and our co-sponsors.

The event, MC’ed by Dr. Saiba Varma (Professor of Anthropology) included a speaker panel of  Dr. Janis Jenkins (UCSD Professor of Anthropology and Psychiatry), Ron Marcus from the Brady Campaign,  Dr. Lawrence Hinman (Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at University of San Diego), and Toni Wellen from The Coalition Against Gun Violence (CAGV) in Santa Barbara.


Dr. Janis Jenkins began the evening with an introduction to the cultural factors involved in gun violence, including cultural violence.

Her anthropological methodological approach includes global and comparative considerations, as well as social context, cultural meaning, and subjective experience. Her emphasis was on gun violence as a social issue and global health concern, and she conceptualized violence as contextually specific and as a lived experience.

Dr. Jenkins with Students for Global Health Board Member, Emma Jackson

The issue of the mentally ill being blamed for gun violence was addressed, as she stated more individuals with mental illness will commit suicide rather than homicide.

Ron Marcus, press contact for the San Diego County Chapter of the Brady Campaign, then continued the conversation with bringing our attention to the legislation from America’s history and sharing some harrowing statistics of gun violence in the United States as compared to other countries around the world. The Brady Campaign has announced the bold goal to cut the number of U.S. gun deaths in half by 2025, based on an innovative and exciting strategy that centers on the idea of keeping guns out of the wrong hands through three impact-driven, broadly engaging campaigns: (1) a policy focus to “Finish the Job” so that life-saving Brady background checks are applied to all gun sales; (2) to “Stop ‘Bad Apple’ Gun Dealers” – the 5 percent of gun dealers that supply 90 percent of all crime guns; and (3) to lead a new national conversation and change social norms around the real dangers of guns in the home, to prevent the homicides, suicides, and unintentional shootings that happen every day as a result.

Dr. Lawrence Hinman, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy and co- founder of the Center for Ethics in Science and Technology  at the University of San Diego, then brought the philosophical perspective to the issue of gun violence and shared some personal anecdotes of his own family’s gun ownership in Chicago, and being exposed to guns in childhood. He explained that gun control was a highly personal issue because of the impact of gun violence on relatives to victims. He emphasized that he see’s public health as a productive way to address the issues.

Toni Wellen, chair and co-founder of the Coalition Against Gun Violence, then spoke about her role in the grassroots movement, The Coalition Against Gun Violence in Santa Barbara, CA. The goals of the Coalition Against Gun Violence are to create a safer community by combating gun violence through educational activities and to advocate for effective local, state and national programs, policies, and legislation.

Wellen shared some safety guidelines for locking away guns if they are stored at home or near children. The goal of the coalition is to expose the culture and impact of gun violence and its glorification in all media, including movies, TV, videos, music, magazines, and electronic games, and to work for remedies. Wellen encouraged all attendees to become involved in grassroots movements and maybe even start a new one in San Diego!

The event ended with a student Q&A session and networking reception.

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