The AMA House of Delegates declared gun-related violence a public health crisis in 2016 and has continued to push for policy and physician leadership to prevent gun violence.
The AMA advocates for gun violence prevention
At the 2022 Interim Meeting, the AMA House of Delegates adopted new policy to establish a task force focused on gun violence prevention.
“We cannot continue to live this way. Our children spend portions of school days running active shooter drills, knowing full well their classroom could be next. In movie theaters, houses of worship, hospitals, big cities and small towns, gun violence has shattered any sense of security and taken lives. As physicians and healers, we are committed to ending firearm violence by advocating for common-sense, evidence-based solutions, and this task force will be key to that ongoing effort,” said AMA President Jack Resneck Jr., MD, in his remarks.
“Gun violence is a plague on our nation. It’s a public health crisis, and much of it is preventable,” said then-AMA President Gerald E. Harmon, MD, in remarks to the House of Delegates at the 2022 AMA Annual Meeting. “This cannot be our new normal. Gun violence is out of control. Enough is enough.”
“We are the healers, we heal people, and now we take it upon ourselves to help heal our society. The board hears you on this issue loud and clear. We feel what you feel...” said Bobby Mukkamala, MD, addressing the AMA House of Delegates as chair of the Board of Trustees to detail the AMA’s emphatic commitment to halting gun violence.
AMA policies on gun violence
The AMA adopted a number of new policies aimed at preventing gun violence at the 2022 Interim Meeting in November and the 2022 Annual Meeting in June.
The policies adopted by the House of Delegates in 2022 include:
- Supporting gun research: The AMA supports research examining the major sources of illegally possessed firearms, as well as possible methods of reducing their proliferation in the United States.
- Ensuring active-shooter and live-crisis drills consider the mental health of children: The AMA encourages these drills to be conducted in an evidence-based and trauma-informed way that takes children’s physical and mental wellness into account.
- Regulating ghost guns: The AMA calls on state legislatures and Congress to subject these weapons to the same regulations and licensing requirements as traditional firearms.
- Advocating for warning labels on ammunition packages: The AMA will support legislation requiring that packaging for any firearm ammunition produced in, sold in or exported from the United States carry a boxed warning.
These policies add to the AMA’s already numerous policy recommendations to reduce firearm trauma, injury and death that have been developed over the past two decades. Additional major points of policy include support for:
- Increased state and federal funding of gun violence research and data collection.
- Waiting periods and background checks for firearm purchasers.
- Automated reporting of prohibited individuals to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
- Restrictions on the sale and ownership of certain types of weapons and devices, including high-capacity semiautomatic firearms, bump stocks, ghost guns and high-capacity magazines.
- Extreme risk protection orders and child access prevention laws.
- Physicians inquiring about the presence of firearms in the home and counseling patients about risks and safe storage.
A complete list of AMA policy related to gun violence can be found in the AMA’s Policy Finder.
Advocacy efforts on gun violence & safety
- Led strategy discussion among state and specialty medical associations on state strategies to address the epidemic of gun violence at the 2022 State Advocacy Roundtable.
- Attended a White House event to commemorate the passage of the recent Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.
- Participated virtually in Medical Summit on Firearm Injury Prevention, sponsored by the American College of Surgeons and ACP.
- Participate monthly in stakeholder coalition meetings sponsored by AAP.
- Sent a comment letter (PDF) to the U.S. House of Representatives in support of the “Protecting Our Kids Act.”
- Renewed call for gun violence prevention in response to the Tulsa shooting.
- Urged Congress to support the bipartisan gun deal.
- Declared the Supreme Court’s decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen a dangerous step that weakens public-safety policy.
- Applauded the Senate passage of bipartisan firearm safety legislation.
- Supported the passage of a bipartisan gun safety bill but encouraged measures to prevent gun violence.
- Called on lawmakers, leaders and advocates to find common-sense solutions to gun violence in the wake of the Texas school shooting.
- Sent a letter (PDF) requesting funding of $35 million for the CDC and $25 million for the NIH for FY 2023 to conduct public health research into firearm morbidity and mortality prevention and participate monthly in stakeholder coalition meetings sponsored by AAP to strategize on ensuring expanded funding for CDC and NIH.
- Filed an amicus brief with the Wisconsin Medical Society asserting that the owners of an online marketplace designed to facilitate illegal gun sales to prohibited buyers cannot escape liability for human harm resulting from preventable gun violence.
- Sent a letter (PDF) in support of the proposed rulemaking issued by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives in the Department of Justice, which would help close a regulatory loophole associated with un-serialized privately-made guns.
- Released a Leadership Viewpoint from then-AMA President Gerald E. Harmon, MD, on the need for commonsense laws to end gun violence.
- Published a Q&A with Megan L. Ranney, MD, MPH, on her work as co-founder and chief research officer at the American Foundation for Firearm Injury Reduction in Medicine (AFFIRM).
- Sent a comment letter (PDF) to the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary in support of “Red Flag” laws, which allow a judge to issue an order that enables law enforcement to temporarily remove guns from individuals deemed a risk to themselves or others.
- Filed an amicus brief with the Wisconsin Medical Society in the Wisconsin Supreme Court seeking to hold a website specifically designed to facilitate the illegal sale of firearms accountable for the harm that results from those transactions.
- Participated in Reducing gun violence: Collective Impact through a National Alliance of Associations with the American Bar Association and other stakeholders.
- AMA joined (PDF) six of the nation’s largest physician and public health professional societies reiterate their commitment to finding solutions and call for policies to reduce gun-related injuries and deaths.
- Supported state legislation (PDF) to create a sales tax exemption and income tax deduction for the purchase of gun safety devices.
- Supported state legislation (PDF) to prohibit possession of firearms in safe school zones, require commercial gun sales and transfers to be subject to a criminal background check and processed through a licensed firearms dealer impose a seven-day waiting period between the purchase and delivery of a firearm, and establish extreme risk protection orders.
- The AMA Council on Science and Public Health released a report (PDF) on the physician’s role in gun safety.
- AMA joined the American Foundation for Firearm Injury Reduction in Medicine (AFFIRM) along with other leading health care organizations to support research into the causes of gun violence, risk factors associated with gun violence and potential interventions.
Gun safety resources for physicians
The AMA has developed resources to help physicians address gun violence, including the AMA Ed Hub module “The Physician’s Role in Promoting Firearm Safety,” which was designed to assist physicians in recognizing risk factors and effectively communicating with patients to reduce the risk of gun injury and death.
In addition, watch this episode of the AMA’s Moving Medicine video series to hear Megan Ranney, MD, MPH, an emergency physician and academic dean at Brown University School of Public Health, discuss why it is important to approach gun violence as a public health issue.