Mass shootings have gone from epidemic to pandemic in the United States, a peculiar phenomenon we seem both unwilling and unable to stop. But America has faced other pandemics before and has worked to mitigate the trauma they caused. How? By treating pandemics as public health crises, bringing the combined weight of the medical community and regulators to bear on the problem.

The response to two pandemics in the last 60 years — traffic fatalities and deaths caused by tobacco — shows how seemingly intractable problems can be solved as long as we’re willing to solve them.

The annotated graphs below show how both traffic fatalities and cigarette consumption (a proven cause of lung cancer) were reduced by a combination of state and federal action. It stands to reason that a similar approach to gun violence would yield similar results.

But legislation signed into effect in March 2018, while allowing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to conduct research on gun violence, expressly forbids it from using federal money to advocate for gun control as a way to prevent gun deaths. In other words: Study all you want, but keep the results to yourself.

Click to enlarge the image

gun violence public health infographic