NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — After yet another deadly weekend in Nashville thanks to gun violence, some doctors are calling the issue a public health crisis.
Since Saturday, three teens were shot dead in Nashville, and one 17-year-old was seriously hurt by gunfire, according to Metro police.
So far, the city has had eight homicides in 2023.
Dr. Kelsey Gastineau, a pediatrician at Vanderbilt, and firearm injury prevention researcher, told News 2 that firearm injuries are one of the top leading causes of death in children and teens in Tennessee, and she has seen that firsthand at Vanderbilt.
“I knew I’d be helping take care of children with asthma, with diabetes, with all these different sorts of healthcare concerns, but treating children with bullet holes was never something I thought I was going to take care of,” Gastineau said.
In 2021, Vanderbilt University Medical Center treated 445 patients with gunshot wounds. While some were self-inflicted injuries, most were caused by criminal shootings.
“This is a wide, rippling issue we’re seeing in the healthcare facility,” Gastineau said.
Firearm injuries are a complex issue, but they are preventable, according to Gastineau.
“Now that I’m a firearm injury prevention researcher, I think that’s the thing looking back that really gets me the most is that they’re all tragic in their own way, but all of these injuries and deaths are preventable, which makes them very different than a lot of what I see as a healthcare provider right now,” Gastineau said.
She added people need to recognize gun violence disproportionately impacts certain communities more than others. Then it will take a multi-faceted public health approach to try to fix the issue.