The U.S. Surgeon General said Saturday that he did not regret characterizing gun violence as public health issue, despite the fierce opposition to his confirmation from gun rights lobbyists that his statement on the issue prompted.
Surgeon General Vivek Murthy made the comments when speaking at the Asian American Journalists Association convention gala in San Francisco, the Associated Press reported.
The nation's chief physician said he still believes gun violence is a preventable health problem, comparing it to seat belts and swimming pool safety, the agency added.
Murthy was confirmed to his post in Dec. 2014, amid strenuous opposition from the National Rifle Association (NRA) and other pro-firearms groups, as well as from many Republicans.
Republicans senators had questioned Murthy's political involvement during his confirmation process, with Senator Ted Cruz of Texas branding him “an anti-gun activist.” The NRA had said that confirmation of Murthy “would pose a serious threat to the rights of gun owners,” Bloomberg reported.
In 2012, Murthy tweeted: “ Tired of politicians playing politics w/guns, putting lives at risk b/c they're scared of NRA. Guns are a health care issue," the Washington Post reported.
Murthy was confirmed to the post more than a year and half after being nominated by President Obama. He was a vocal campaigner for Obama's election, and a supporter of the Affordable Care Act, Obama's controversial legislative centerpiece.
Murthy is not the only leading member of the medical community to have characterized gun violence as a public health issue. In Feb. 2015, seven medical groups representing most U.S. physicians issued a call to action, seeking to recast gun-related deaths as a public health crisis, the Huffington Post reported.