SAHM Statement About the Firearm Injury Prevention Efforts of Tennessee State Representatives ‎

May 3, 2023

The Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine (SAHM) lauds the relentless efforts of Tennessee State Representatives Justin Jones, Justin J. Pearson, and Gloria Johnson to prioritize the enactment of evidence-based firearm injury prevention legislation. More than 500 people on our planet die every day from a firearm-related injury [1]. Adolescents and young adults are disproportionately affected by devastating firearm-related mortality and morbidity [2,3]. Firearm-related injuries are preventable; they are not inevitable. SAHM urges legislators throughout the world to prioritize and take meaningful steps in enacting evidence-based firearm injury prevention legislation [4]. Young people deserve to be and feel safe in their homes, schools, and communities.

The recent political events in Tennessee highlight the value of the inclusion of young people from marginalized communities in the legislative process. Adolescents and young adults from marginalized communities are disproportionately affected by firearm-related mortality and morbidity [5]. Their lived experiences and perspectives are essential to crafting effective solutions. Representative Justin Jones and Representative Justin J. Pearson bring with them the wisdom of their recent lived experiences. SAHM views Representative Jones and Representative Pearson as exemplary young adults and condemns their expulsion from the Tennessee House of Representatives as a discriminatory abuse of power. The prosocial activism of these two young leaders demonstrates their commitment to bettering the living conditions of people in and beyond the communities that they represent. They demonstrate the valuable development of a critical consciousness that is essential to building a more equitable future [6]. They are aware of oppressive societal systems and are actively working to combat this oppression.

Firearm injury prevention and fighting oppression are the responsibility of all members of society. However, young people throughout our world, especially those living in marginalized communities, are disproportionately affected by the constant and increasing threat of firearm-related mortality and morbidity. When they engage in firearm injury prevention efforts or fight oppression, we should elevate and amplify their voices. We must acknowledge that when young people engage in activism around firearm injury prevention, they are literally fighting for their lives.

[1] Amnesty International. Gun Violence. Available at: Accessed April 29, 2023.
[2] United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Global Study on Homicide 2019 (Vienna, 2019).
[3] Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. Global Burden of Disease Data. Available at: Accessed May 1, 2023.
[4] Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine. Preventing firearm violence in youth through evidence-informed strategies. J Adolesc Health. 2020;66(2):260-4. DOI: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2019.11.295.
[5] Formica MK. An eye on disparities, health equity, and racism—the case of firearm injuries in urban youth in the United States and globally. Pediatr Clin. 2021;68(2):389-99. DOI: 10.1016/j.pcl.2020.12.009.
[6] Miller KK, Shramko M, Brown C, Svetaz MV. The election is over, now what? Youth civic engagement as a path to critical consciousness. J Adolesc Health. 2021;68(2):233-25. DOI: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2020.10.033.

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