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Hopkins County is located in the western part of Kentucky. With Madisonville as the county seat, the county has a total population of about 47,000, which with the coal industry in the commonwealth yielding a median household income of just over $30,000 a year.

It’s not a real newsworthy county nor is it a hotbed for crime or violence, but that’s not stopping the Hopkins County Health Department board of directors from discussing the need to tackle gun violence.

Even though Kentucky has not had a major mass shooting in years, firearm related deaths has climbed higher than the national average, causing the health department board of directors to ask what they can do to help reduce that number.

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(The Messenger) – The problem of gun violence was discussed Wednesday at the Hopkins County Health Department board of directors’ meeting.

Board member Dr. Jennifer Jackson, a family medicine physician, said, “I would like to raise public awareness of gun violence. The health department can facilitate awareness on harm reduction.”

Harm reduction involves lessening the negative social and/or physical consequences associated with various human behaviors, both legal and illegal.

Health department Director Denise Beach and staff member Lisa Hopper gave an overview of harm reduction and how Kentucky compares nationally. For example, in 2015 the rate of firearms-related deaths in Kentucky was 15.2 per 100,000 people compared with 11.1 nationally. That’s up from 13.9 and 10, respectively, in 2014…

After laying out many other biased data on gun violence nationwide, Jackson informed the rest of the board that gun violence is a major public health crisis and therefor falls under their jurisdiction. The board did not discuss the issue any further but Jackson hopes to push for more discussion and action in the near future

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