Press Release

Coalition of Big City Health Officials Urges Senate Action on Gun Safety Legislation, Prevention Research Funding

August 2019


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 23, 2019               

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, The Big Cities Health Coalition (BCHC) calls on the Senate to take immediate action on the issue of gun violence – first, by funding public health-based gun violence research, and second, by enacting the bipartisan gun safety legislation recently passed in the U.S. House.

Guns killed nearly 40,000 Americans in 2017, and in 2019, there have already been more than 250 mass shootings, not to mention countless injuries and deaths from non-mass casualty incidents.  Local health officials address the epidemic of violence and its consequences each and every day, with half of all homicides occurring in cities.

Action by the federal government is needed to protect the American people as it has done in other epidemics. BCHC is calling on Congress to provide CDC a minimum of $50 million a year to fund gun violence prevention research, and for the Senate to act on H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Check Act and H.R.1112, the Enhanced Background Checks Act.

Read the full text of the letter here:

The letter states:

Approaching violence as a public health issue means searching for the root causes of this epidemic and using data, tools, and evidence-informed best practices to address those causes. It means creating communities where residents can be healthy and safe, with access to quality education for kids and good jobs for families.

Often, our work is hindered by a lack of resources to research gun violence prevention efforts. This scarcity of research, and funding for research, is particularly troubling, as deaths due to firearms in the U.S. continue to rise. We urge Congress to provide CDC with a minimum of $50 million per year specifically for firearm prevention research, as part of the appropriations process. If provided annually, this funding could support the creation of 10 to 20 large multi-year studies each year (or even more single-year studies), and the rebuilding of a research community that has shrunk in the decades since the Dickey Amendment was enacted.

Swift passage of these bills, as well as funding true public health prevention research related to firearm injury, is a critical step in reducing gun violence injury and death. The Big Cities Health Coalition is ready to work with Congress, the Administration, and others to develop and enhance evidence-based, data-driven solutions to address violence across the country. We look forward to working with you to best protect our residents from this devastating epidemic.

The letter was signed by the following BCHC members:

Kelly Colopy, MPP, Chair, BCHC and Director, Long Beach Department Health of Health and Human Services

Oxiris Barbot, MD, Co-Chair, BCHC Violence Working Group and Commissioner, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

Sara Cody, MD, Chair-Elect, BCHC and Health Officer and Public Health Department Director, County of Santa Clara

Gretchen Musicant, MPH, BSN, Co-Chair, BCHC Violence Working Group and Health Commissioner, Minneapolis

Rex Archer, MD, MPH, Director of Health, Kansas City

Allison Arwady, MD, MPH, Acting Commissioner, Chicago Department of Public Health

Rachel Banks, MPA, Director of Public Health, Multnomah County Health Department

Grant Colfax, MD, Director of Health, San Francisco Department of Public Health

Letitia Dzirasa, MD, Commissioner of Health, Baltimore City

Thomas Farley, MD, MPH, Health Commissioner, Philadelphia

Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, Director, Los Angeles County Public Health

Alma (Gibbie) Harris, MSPH, BSN, RN, Director, Mecklenburg County Public Health

Stephanie Hayden LMSW, Director, Austin Public Health

Patty Hayes, RN, MN, Director, Public Health – Seattle & King County 

Jennifer Herriott, MPH, Interim Director, San Antonio Metropolitan Health District

Joseph P. Iser, MD, DrPH, MSc, Chief Health Officer, Southern Nevada Health District (Las Vegas)

Robert McDonald, Executive Director, Denver Department of Public Health and Environment

LaQuandra Nesbitt MD, MPH, Director of Health, District of Columbia Department of Health

Mysheika W. Roberts, MD, MPH, Health Commissioner, Columbus

Monica Valdes Lupi, JD, MPH, Executive Director, Boston Public Health Commission

CONTACT: Max Mays or 913-233-6830


About the Big Cities Health Coalition

The Big Cities Health Coalition (BCHC) is a forum for the leaders of America’s largest metropolitan health departments to exchange strategies and jointly address issues to promote and protect the health and safety of their residents. Collectively, BCHC member jurisdictions directly impact nearly 62 million people, or one in five Americans. For more information, visit