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Colorado School of Public Health News and Stories

Gun Violence Prevention

Press Coverage    Gun Violence Prevention

Coloradans’ injuries from guns have cost $8.4 million in health care in six-year span

Colorado has been trying to track numbers, treating firearm injuries and deaths as a public health emergency. As part of a concerted prevention push from the state, including a resource hub, that data can be found on a new online dashboard. The push comes from a partnership between the Office of Gun Violence Prevention within the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Injury and Violence Prevention Center in the Colorado School of Public Health.


Author Colorado Public Radio | Publish Date May 10, 2024
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Student and Alumni    Gun Violence Prevention    Injury & Violence Prevention

Celebrating Students Committed to Injury and Violence Prevention

The Injury and Violence Prevention Center (IVPC) is excited to recognize the outstanding achievements of student award recipients for the 2023-2024 academic year. The IVPC Student Research Grant and the Hoffman Firearm Injury and Violence Prevention scholarship are key initiatives that demonstrate IVPC’s commitment to supporting education, collaborative research, and promoting injury and violence prevention efforts across disciplines.


Author Noelle Musgrave | Publish Date March 13, 2024
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Firearm Injury Prevention    Community and Practice    ColoradoSPH at CU Anschutz    Gun Violence Prevention    Injury & Violence Prevention

CDPHE Partners with the Colorado School of Public Health to Launch the State’s First Gun Violence Prevention Resource Bank

REMOTE (FEB 22):   The Office of Gun Violence Prevention within the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has partnered with the Injury and Violence Prevention Center in the Colorado School of Public Health to publish the state’s first-ever resource bank regarding gun violence in Colorado.


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Research    Community    Students    Mental Health    Epidemiology    Firearm Injury Prevention    Infectious disease    Community and Practice    Student and Alumni    Cannabis    Environment    Gun Violence Prevention    Injury & Violence Prevention    Maternal & Child Health    Worker Health

ColoradoSPH's Top Stories of 2023

In 2023, some of the nation’s top public health researchers at the Colorado School of Public Health tackled a variety of the largest public health questions facing us today.


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Research    Students    Epidemiology    Firearm Injury Prevention    Student and Alumni    Gun Violence Prevention    Injury & Violence Prevention

Mapping Mass Shootings in the United States

The United States has more than 10 times the number of mass shooting incidents than other developed countries, yet little research has shown the distribution and types of shootings, geographically.


Author Colleen Miracle | Publish Date July 26, 2023
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Press Coverage    Gun Violence Prevention    Injury & Violence Prevention

As Gun Deaths Rise, Colorado is Trying Something New — a Public Health Approach to Gun Violence Prevention

In a first-of-its-kind partnership, the Office of Gun Violence Prevention within the CDPHE is teaming up with researchers from the Injury and Violence Prevention Center in the Colorado School of Public Health. They’ll create and maintain a resource bank of regularly updated and accurate materials regarding gun violence in Colorado.


Author CPR | Publish Date March 15, 2023
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Community    Epidemiology    Firearm Injury Prevention    Community and Practice    ColoradoSPH at CU Anschutz    Gun Violence Prevention    Injury & Violence Prevention

CDPHE Partners with the Colorado School of Public Health to Create Gun Violence Prevention Resource Bank

The Office of Gun Violence Prevention within the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is partnering with researchers from the Injury and Violence Prevention Center in the Colorado School of Public Health to create and maintain a resource bank of regularly updated and accurate materials regarding gun violence in Colorado.


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Press Coverage    Suicide Prevention    Gun Violence Prevention    Injury & Violence Prevention

Colorado Breaks Mass Shooting Record as Gun Deaths Rise

“We need to be looking at what's happening every single day in urban communities and across the country, in terms of suicide, if we really wanna look at where the bulk of gun deaths are,” said Emmy Betz, professor of epidemiology and deputy director of the Injury & Violence Prevention Center.


Author Colorado Public Radio | Publish Date December 08, 2022
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Press Coverage    Suicide Prevention    Gun Violence Prevention    Injury & Violence Prevention

Ricochet: An American Trauma

Emmy Betz, professor of epidemiology, deputy director of the Injury and Violence Prevention Center, and the co-founder of the Colorado Firearm Safety Coalition, a group bringing together the firearms industry and public health researchers to prevent gun suicides, is interviewed for the PBS documentary.


Author PBS News Hour | Publish Date November 28, 2022
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Press Coverage    Gun Violence Prevention    Injury & Violence Prevention

Suicides From Firearms Prompt Movement To Address Mental Health Stigmas

"The connection between the lethality of firearms and the risk of suicide death is not something that's been talked about enough," reflects Emmy Betz, professor and deputy director of the Injury and Violence Prevention Center.


Author PBS News Hour | Publish Date August 23, 2022
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Press Coverage    Suicide Prevention    Gun Violence Prevention    Injury & Violence Prevention

We Want to Prevent Suicide in the Military — Congress Won’t Let Us

In an op-ed in The Hill, Emmy Betz, deputy director of the Injury & Violence Prevention Center, and other experts highlight how a provision in the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act restricts needed research on how gun safety efforts impact suicide prevention among U.S. military personnel.


Author The Hill | Publish Date June 10, 2022
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Students    Scholarship    Awards    Firearm Injury Prevention    Gun Violence Prevention    Injury & Violence Prevention

Announcing 2021 Hoffman Firearm Injury and Violence Prevention Scholarship Awardees

Congratulations to DrPH candidates Ginny McCathy, MPH, MDiv and Leslie Barnard, MPH on being selected to receive a Colorado School of Public Health Hoffman Firearm Injury and Violence Prevention Scholarship! The Hoffman Scholarship is awarded to incoming or continuing students in a masters or doctoral program at the Colorado School of Public Health. Students were selected via a faculty panel in which they demonstrated high academic potential and aspiration to work on the prevention of firearm injury and death (including suicide) in federal, state, or local public health agencies. 






Ginny McCarthy, MPH, MDiv 
Ginny McCarthy is a first year DrPH student in the Department of Community and Behavioral Health. Prior to beginning doctoral studies, Ginny completed her Master of Public Health at Loyola University Chicago and her Master of Divinity from Boston College. During her time in Chicago, Ginny worked in student-facing administration at Loyola’s Health Sciences Campus while also working closely with the Public Health Sciences and Emergency Medicine departments on topics of community engagement with a specific focus on firearm injury and prevention and social enterprise. Ginny hopes through her doctoral studies to incorporate geospatial analysis and community-initiated firearm safety practices into her work of firearm injury and prevention.


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Firearm Injury Prevention    Gun Violence Prevention    Injury & Violence Prevention

CU Anschutz Establishes the Injury & Violence Prevention Center

The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus has established a new center, the Injury & Violence Prevention Center, which aims to drive evidence-based prevention of injuries and violence through research, training and education, and dissemination.


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Press Coverage    Gun Violence Prevention    Injury & Violence Prevention

Broadening the Conversation on Firearm Suicide

Emmy Betz, MD, MPH joins the Crazed podcast produced by the National Mental Health Innovation Center at the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus to discuss her unique role in working with the gun community, including firearm retailers, range employees and the general public, for suicide prevention and firearm injury prevention.


Author Crazed Podcast | Publish Date July 01, 2021
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Press Coverage    Gun Violence Prevention    Injury & Violence Prevention

More Mass Shootings Spark Outrage—but Don't Forget the Daily Deaths, Either

Emmy Betz, MD, MPH, deputy director of the Program for Injury Prevention Education & Research, and Megan Ranney, MD, MPH, of the Brown University School of Public Health, advocate for a public health approach to address gun violence, in an op-ed in The Hill.


Author The Hill | Publish Date May 28, 2021
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Community    Epidemiology    Firearm Injury Prevention    Community and Practice    ColoradoSPH at CU Anschutz    Gun Violence Prevention    Injury & Violence Prevention

Data on Gun Violence Would Save Lives—Just Like It Has for Car Crashes

In 2010, total U.S. traffic deaths fell to their lowest level since the 1950s – due in part to more motorists buying into “buckling up and embracing safety innovations.” Motor vehicle death rates have remained roughly steady since that time despite more people driving

Over the same decades, however, firearm death rates have remained steady and now started to rise. Why? 

Let’s start by unpacking what led to the decrease in traffic deaths. Spoiler alert: It wasn’t a single “magic bullet.” Rather, it was a combination of approaches under the “three E’s of injury prevention” — education, engineering and enactment.

Education includes teaching the public about safe driving (basic driving rules; “don’t drink and drive”; the #justdrive campaign to end distracted driving), and about safe behaviors (like using appropriate car seats for kids). Remember the crash test dummies from the 1980s in television spots about using seat belts? Traffic safety campaigns also involve community or cultural change, like the “friends don’t let friends drive drunk” slogan that also began in the 1980s. 

Engineering means making a product or environment safer — and sometimes this approach can work well because it doesn’t rely on changing behavior (which we know can be hard). For traffic safety, engineering advances over the past decades have had a major impact on crash fatality rates. Car occupants are far more likely to survive a crash now thanks to innovations like air bags (invented in 1951), seat belts and crumple zones (the parts of the car designed to absorb impact and crumple in a crash). Newer technologies like automatic braking systems and blind spot detection may even reduce the likelihood of a crash even happening. 

Engineering of the environment outside cars also helped reduce deaths, through things like rumble strips, highway guard rails, traffic lights (introduced in 1930) and urban design to reduce motor vehicle – pedestrian collisions. Social engineering has included the development of alternative transportation options, like Uber and Lyft, that may reduce drunk driving

Enactment of laws was a third key component to reducing traffic deaths. In 1970, the Highway Safety Act established the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a national organization responsible for reducing deaths, injuries and economic losses from motor vehicle crashes. NHTSA oversees large educational campaigns as well as vehicle safety testing, ratings and recalls. 

Federal and state laws set speed limits and policies around driver licensing and driving while impaired. A key component of enactment is enforcement — that is, how are laws actually implemented and enforced, such as through heightened patrolling for drunk driving during holiday periods.

So, what does all this mean for reducing firearm-related injuries and fatalities? 

Well, the first takeaway should be that there’s not a single “magic bullet” here, either. It’s going to take a combination of approaches, as well as the research to understand which ones work and why

We need educational efforts to reduce firearm injuries and deaths — things like campaigns about secure home firearm storage (to keep guns out of the hands of kids) and reducing firearm access in times of suicide risk, and violence interruption programs with trusted community messengers. Maybe “have a brave conversation” will become the new “friends don’t let friends drive drunk,” as we encourage friends and family to look out for those with suicide risk. And we need engineering approaches like biometric “smart guns” (which can only be fired by an authorized user) and storage devices like safes, quick-access lock boxes and trigger locks. 

Yes, we will also need enactment of policies if we want to significantly reduce firearm injuries and deaths in the United States. But we need thoughtful conversations about those policies — and then research to evaluate their effect on a range of outcomes — rather than knee-jerk reactions (either pro or con). Beyond the policies most often debated, we should also be thinking about policies to encourage secure home firearm storage, facilitate temporary firearm transfers in times of suicide risk, reduce liability for firearm outlets that offer temporary storage to prevent suicide, or even establish a NHTSA-like entity for firearm injury.

Enacting firearm-related legislation alone won’t solve the problem of firearm-related injuries and deaths — nor will education, nor will engineering. We need them all — and we need the research to inform them all. We need to engage varied voices in these discussions. We need to move away from vilifying the “other side” and instead embrace the fact that all of us want to keep our friends and loved ones safe from harm. 

We’ve been down this road before, with a comprehensive approach to traffic safety and reducing motor vehicle deaths. We can do it again, this time with firearm injury.   

Emmy Betz, MD, MPH, is a practicing emergency physician and researcher at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, where she directs the Firearm Injury Prevention Initiative. She also co-founded the Colorado Firearm Safety Coalition and gave a TEDx talk on firearm suicide prevention. This piece reflects her views, not those of her employers.

This article originally appeared in The Hill.


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Community    Firearm Injury Prevention    Community and Practice    ColoradoSPH at CU Anschutz    Environment    Gun Violence Prevention

Open Letter to CO Lawmakers: Fix Our Broken Relationship With Guns

An open letter to: City of Louisville City Council; State Representative Tracey Barnett; State Senator Sonja Jacquez Lewis; Representative Joe Neguse; Representative Jason Crow; Representative Dianne DeGuette; Representative Ed Perlmutter; Representative Lauren Bohbert; Representative Ken Buck; Representative Doug Lamborn; Senator Michael Bennet; Senator John Hickenlooper; and Governor Jared Polis. Dr. Katie Dickinson is a Boulder native, a current Louisville resident, and an Assistant Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health at the Colorado School of Public Health.


Author Katie Dickinson | Publish Date March 24, 2021
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Press Coverage    Gun Violence Prevention

To Fight Suicide, Maps Offer Safe Gun Storage Options

Dr. Emmy Betz, associate professor of epidemiology at ColoradoSPH, spoke with U.S. News & World Report about the Colorado Firearm Safety Coalition's safe gun storage map and the importance of this work as gun sales, stress, and isolation are on the rise during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Author 5280 | Publish Date November 09, 2020
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Research    Epidemiology    Firearm Injury Prevention    ColoradoSPH at CU Anschutz    Gun Violence Prevention    Injury & Violence Prevention

Colorado Emergency Departments Take New Steps to Prevent Youth Suicide

A new study conducted in seven Front Range emergency departments demonstrated success in helping parents make their homes safer when a teen is distressed.


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Community    COVID-19    Mental Health    Epidemiology    Firearm Injury Prevention    Infectious disease    Community and Practice    ColoradoSPH at CU Anschutz    Suicide Prevention    Gun Violence Prevention    Injury & Violence Prevention

COVID-19 and Suicide: An Uncertain Connection

I live and work in Colorado, a beautiful state that can look to an outsider like a year-round playground of sunshine and skiing. But my state has a big problem: suicide rates that are among the highest in the country. 


Author Emmy Betz | Publish Date April 22, 2020
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Press Coverage    Gun Violence Prevention

Colorado Learned the Danger of Glamorizing Shooters. Does Lionizing Student Heroes Also Carry Risks?

It's discussed if honoring the victims of school shooters runs the risk of increasing school shootings.


Author The Colorado Sun | Publish Date May 30, 2019
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Firearm Injury Prevention    Gun Violence Prevention    Injury & Violence Prevention

#ThisIsOurLane in Colorado, Too

As an emergency physician and a trauma surgeon, we are honored to work with our multi-disciplinary teams 24/7 to save limbs and lives after devastating injuries — including those from firearms.


Author Catherine Velopulos | Publish Date December 03, 2018
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Community    Firearm Injury Prevention    Community and Practice    Gun Violence Prevention    Injury & Violence Prevention

Isn’t Better Research into Gun Violence Something Everyone Can Get Behind?

The Dickey Amendment, named after former Arkansas Rep. Jay Dickey, created a de-facto ban on federal funding for gun research in the 1990s.


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Firearm Injury Prevention    Gun Violence Prevention    Injury & Violence Prevention

Gun Training in US Fails to Include Suicide Prevention

The low percentage of owners who have received training in suicide prevention is notable because there is a strong association between gun access and suicide, Dr. Emmy Betz, an associate professor of emergency medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Core Faculty, Program for Injury Prevention, Education and Research (PIPER) Colorado School of Public Health in Aurora.


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Firearm Injury Prevention    Gun Violence Prevention    Injury & Violence Prevention

Research Shows Most Americans Support Restriction on Where Firearms Can Be Carried

According to research from the University of Michigan School of Public Health, more than two-thirds of Americans surveyed support some restrictions on carrying firearms in public places.


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Colorado School of Public Health In the News

The Denver Post

“Hear/Say”, a groundbreaking art exhibition, explores the effects of high-concentration cannabis

news outletThe Denver Post
Publish DateJune 11, 2024

At the intersection of art, science, and health, BRDG Project Gallery at 3300 Tejon St. in Denver hosting “Hear/Say”, a groundbreaking art exhibition exploring the effects of high-concentration cannabis. Sponsored by the Colorado School of Public Health, the show is a science-based examination that encourages conversation and open-minded understanding of a controversial subject through the artistic lens of local and national artists. The public is invited to view the exhibition from June 14 through July 14, 2024 during regular BRDG Project gallery hours. 

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Healthline

Man with First Human Case of H5N2 Bird Flu Variant Dies in Mexico

news outletHealthline
Publish DateJune 07, 2024

A 59-year-old man in Mexico who contracted a type of bird flu known as A(H5N2) died in April, the World Health Organization said June 5Trusted Source. This is the first laboratory-confirmed human case of infection with an A(H5N2) virus worldwide, and the first avian H5 virus reported in a person in Mexico, the WHO said. “These viruses, such as H5N1 and now H5N2, primarily circulate among birds, with occasional spillover into mammals, including humans, under the right circumstances,” said Daniel Pastula, MD, MHS, chief of neuro-infectious diseases and global neurology at the University of Colorado and Colorado School of Public Health.

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STAT News

Smoke exposure from California’s wildfires linked to 52,000 early deaths, study says

news outletSTAT News
Publish DateJune 07, 2024

When large swaths of the East Coast were shrouded in wildfire smoke last summer, scientists in California grimly joked that maybe, finally, power brokers in New York and Washington, D.C. would be spurred to act on the burning issue that has long plagued the West Coast. Despite wildfire seasons that regularly burn hundreds of thousands of acres in California alone each year, researchers know relatively little about the long-term effects of chronic wildfire smoke on the body, and funding to reduce the known harms of exposure is scarce.

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Health Affairs

Reimagining Public Health: Mapping A Path Forward

news outletHealth Affairs
Publish DateJune 01, 2024

The COVID-19 pandemic and other ongoing public health challenges have highlighted deficiencies in the US public health system. The United States is in a unique moment that calls for a transformation that builds on Public Health 3.0 and its focus on social determinants of health and partnerships with diverse sectors while also acknowledging how the pandemic altered the landscape for public health. Based on relevant literature, our experience, and interviews with public health leaders, we describe seven areas of focus within three broad categories to support transformational change.

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