In the wake of Friday’s shooting at a Texas school that, according to CNN, left eight students and two teachers dead, the American Academy of Family Physicians and ACP issued statements reminding Congress of the urgent need to take steps that would prevent similar tragedies.
Both groups were also among several organizations that have issued similar pleas after shooting rampages dating back at least to the attack at a Florida nightclub in 2016 that killed 49 people and left 53 injured.
“Gun violence is a national public health epidemic that exacts a substantial toll on the U.S. society… Gun violence should be considered a public health issue — not a political one,” a previously published AAFP position paper on the prevention gun violence stated. According to the same paper, in 2015, firearms were responsible for more than 230 injuries and an average of 105 deaths each day.
The AAFP asked the current administration and Congress to take “concrete steps” to address gun violence, including classifying gun violence as a national public health epidemic; financing related research as part of the federal budget; and creating constitutionally appropriate restrictions on the manufacturing and sale, for civilian use, of large-capacity magazines and firearms with features designed to increase “their rapid and extended killing capacity.”
In a separate statement made by AAP President Collen Kraft, MD, MBA, FAAP, the urgency in which a solution needs to be reached was highlighted.
“[Firearm-related mortality] is a public health epidemic unlike any other,” Kraft said in the statement. “Children are dying from suicide, homicide and unintentional injury every day because of the current policy regarding access to guns in the U.S. We must find common ground now, and we must work together to advance meaningful legislation to keep kids safe.”
ACP, in its own recent statement, also implored lawmakers and the administration to take action to prevent gun violence.
“It’s more important than ever that our nation’s leaders implement common-sense policies that ban the sale of automatic and semiautomatic military-style ‘assault’ weapons that are designed to kill as many people as possible, as quickly as possible,” ACP president Ana María López, MD, MPH, said in a press release.
“The U.S. remains a country with one of the highest rates of gun violence in the world, with rates of injuries and deaths related from firearms exponentially increasing as a result of our country’s inadequate policies on firearms,” she added.
She also stated ACP would like to see legislation that expands background checks, prohibits the sale of bump stocks, and increases access to mental health services that also prevents the stigmatization of persons with mental and substance use disorders through blanket reporting laws.
The ACP statement also indicated that even before the most recent school tragedy, almost 400 ACP members were scheduled to meet this week with lawmakers in Washington, D.C., to discuss ways to lower the injuries and deaths from firearms.
“The time to stop protecting guns over patients is now,” Lopez said. – by Janel Miller
Disclosures: Lopez is president of ACP.