CHICAGO — During the presidential address of the AAP 2017 National Conference & Exhibition, Fernando Stein, MD, FAAP encouraged pediatricians to continue to ‘safeguard public health’ by advocating for policies that reduce the rate of firearm-related injuries and deaths in the United States.
“There is no secret about what is happening in our neighborhoods and our nation,” Stein said. “Firearm-related incidents are the third leading cause of death among U.S. children 1-17 years of age — 4.2% of all U.S. children witnessed a shooting last year.”
As a candidate for AAP president-elect in 2015, Stein prioritized the ‘public health problem’ of gun violence among children as a focus area that he believed the AAP could address through renewed legislative efforts.
“In 2015, the AAP joined with seven other medical organizations and the American Bar Association in the publication of a joint statement, asking for the elimination of physician ‘gag laws,’ universal background checks, and restricting the manufacture and sale of military-style assault weapons,” Stein said. “The American Bar Association also supported the counsel that this recommendation did not conflict with the Second Amendment.”
In the address, Stein stressed the fact that more than 7,000 children are killed or injured by firearms annually, and 19 are killed or injured daily, findings which were revealed in a recent study published in Pediatrics by Katherine A. Fowler, PhD, and colleagues.
“Firearm injuries represent a major problem,” Stein said. “In the Annals of Internal Medicine statement, the authors noted that ‘Just as physicians worked to safeguard public health by promoting smoking bans in public places, we should draw on similar motivations and strategies to promote sensible, evidence-based laws to decrease the harms associated with gun violence. It is our responsibility to do so.’”
To illustrate the true cost of the ‘gun violence epidemic’, Stein referenced the 2010 report from the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, which determined that firearm injuries cost the U.S. more than $174 billion in a single year — approximately $564 per American — to pay for skyrocketing medical expenses, mental health care and criminal justice costs.
“How much could we do with the budget of the estimated annual firearm-related costs of $174 billion?” Stein said. “We could pay for health care.”– by Bob Stott
Stein F. P1070: AAP President’s Address. Presented at: The 2017 AAP National Conference & Exhibition; Sept. 16-19; Chicago.
Disclosure: Infectious Diseases in Children could not obtain disclosure information before publication.