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Perspectives are commentaries produced by and for WNIJ listeners, from a panel of regular contributors and guests. You're invited to comment on or respond to any Perspective on our Facebook page or through Twitter (@wnijnews), in keeping with our Discussion Policy. If you would like to submit your own Perspective for consideration, send us a script that will run about 90 seconds when read -- that's about 250 words -- and email it to NPR@niu.edu, with "Perspectives" in the subject line.

Perspective: If it's good enough for big tobacco...

Piyapong Saydaung

Consider this recent headline: “2020 Firearm Injuries Up More Than 70%–Worse in Black and Hispanic Young Men.”

I'll repeat that. Firearm injuries last year were up by more than seventy percent.

That's the conclusion of a study just out from the Epic Health Research Network.

The report found that injuries from firearms during 2020 “…increased for non-White populations by between 76% and 89% while they increased for the White population by 40%.”

Once again, the question arises: what can we possibly do about this carnage?

Although highly laudable, governmental and community initiatives to curb gun violence don’t ever seem to gain much traction.

It’s time, I believe, to put the force of money behind those efforts.

The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement of 1998 offers a useful precedent.

You’ll recall that almost all of the states obtained recoveries from tobacco companies for the Medicaid funds they expend in treating sick smokers. Costs are spread to people who continue to smoke.

Why should gun injuries have to be paid for out of general tax funds?

Why not compel the gun industry to pick up the Medicaid costs of gunshot victims? Why not spread those costs to the purchasers and users of firearms and ammunition?