Firearm Violence: A Global Priority for Nursing Science


Purpose: This purpose of this article is to frame firearm violence as a health and public health problem, to illustrate the magnitude of the problem, to examine factors that increase the risk to be injured by a firearm, or conversely, that confer protection, and to identify relevant priority areas for nursing science.

Organizing Content: Firearm violence results in physical and psychological injuries and is a global health priority. Firearm violence is categorized as intentional (interpersonal and self‐inflicted) and unintentional (interpersonal and self‐inflicted) and accounts for an estimated 196,000 to 220,000 nonconflict deaths annually.

Methods: We reviewed the theoretical and scientific literature to analyze the magnitude and geographic distribution of firearm violence, the factors associated with firearm injury, the consequences of firearm violence, and areas where nursing science can make an impact on prevention, outcomes, and recovery.

Findings: Firearm violence is a significant public health problem that affects the health of individuals, families, and communities. The burdens and contributors to firearm violence vary worldwide, making it important to understand the local context of this global phenomenon. Relevant areas of inquiry span primary prevention focusing on individual and environmental risk factors; and focus on managing the physical and psychological consequences postinjury; and mitigating long‐term consequences of firearm violence.

Conclusions: Reducing the global burden of firearm violence and improving the health and safety of individuals, families, and communities provide compelling reasons to integrate this area into nursing science.

Clinical Relevance: The goals of nursing are to keep people healthy and safe and to help return those injured to their optimal levels of health and well‐being. Understanding the factors that come together to injure people with a firearm in various physical, social, economic, and cultural environments positions nurses to both extend the dialogue beyond pro‐gun versus anti‐gun and to design and carry out rigorous studies to reduce firearm violence.