After Orlando shooting, doctors call gun violence a public health issue, ask for federal dollars

MILWAUKEE -- In the wake of the mass shooting in Orlando that left 49 people dead and 53 others hurt, the largest medical association in the United States wants Congress to support research on gun violence.

The American Medical Association says gun violence is a serious public health issue.

Shooting at a Pulse Nightclub in Orlando

Sunday, June 19th marked one week since the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando. That incident and other mass shootings, like those in San Bernardino, California and at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut have some doctors calling gun violence a bio-social disease that must be addressed.

Shooting at Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California.

Shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School

Dr. Stephen Hargarten

"It is biological. Bullets rip through victims as we saw in a mass way in Orlando. It rips through victims on a daily basis in the United States," Dr. Stephen Hargarten, chair of emergency medicine at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin said.

Following the shooting in Orlando, those with the American Medical Association said they plan to lobby Congress for federal research dollars -- voting to officially call gun violence a public health issue.

"It is something that should be rigorously done. It should be peer reviewed. It should be done at the highest level -- just like we would do with any other disease," Dr. Hargarten said.

Homicide at 15th Place and Grant

According to Milwaukee police, of the 50 homicides we have seen in the city in 2016, 40 were firearm-related. Of the 146 homicides we saw in 2015, 118 were firearm-related.

Candles for Milwaukee's homicide victims in 2015

"We`re in the midst of this," Dr. Hargarten said.

Experts say it took decades for research on HIV and AIDS to make an impact and they say it could be the same situation with research on gun violence if Congress decides to allocate the funding.

Homicide at 81st and Villard

Critics say funding for research on gun violence would be an attack on the gun industry.

In 1996, the National Rifle Association lobbied for an amendment to prevent the Centers for Disease Control from studying gun violence.

Before anything can be done, Congress would need to lift that ban.

Vigil in Orlando