Public Health

Preventing violence


The AMA has long advocated against the culture of violence in America.

Along with other members of the medical community, the AMA was a catalyst for the passage of the Violence Against Women Act in 1994. While yearly domestic violence rates have dropped dramatically by 64% from 1993 to 2010, and the number of individuals killed by an intimate partner declined 26% for women and 48% for men between 1993 and 2012, domestic violence remains a critical problem in the United States. The AMA recognizes that more work must take place.

The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013, or S. 47, was introduced by Sens. Leahy (D-Vt.) and Crapo (R-Idaho) to strengthen and improve existing programs that assist victims and survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.

The House passed the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013, or S. 47, on Feb. 28, 2013. President Obama signed the bill on March 7, 2013, and it became law.

S. 47 seeks to protect all victims including students, racial minorities, tribal members, immigrants and members of the LGBT community.

In addition, it includes:

  • Campus safety provisions.
  • An all-state minimum funding formula for key grant programs—ensures small, rural states have access to victim services grants authorized under the Violence Against Women Act.  
  • The SAFER Act—provides for audits of sexual evidence backlogs and gives law enforcement the tools they need to help reduce the rape kit evidence backlogs across the country.

Gun violence in America has reached epidemic proportions and the AMA advocates to find workable solutions to reduce gun violence and the culture of violence in America. 

Firearm safety and care CME

Identify a physician’s role in promoting firearm safety, follow trends in fatal and non-fatal injuries and describe firearm violence and survival care with behavioral health insights.

In a Jan. 8, 2013, letter to the president and Congressional leaders, the AMA, along with 51 other national specialty societies and state medical societies, urged the nation to strengthen its commitment and resources to improve comprehensive access to mental health services including screening, prevention and treatment. 

The letter acknowledges that while the vast majority of patients with mental illness are not violent, physicians and other health professionals must be trained to respond to those who have a mental illness that might make them more prone to commit violence.

Based on a long-time AMA House of Delegates policy, the letter also calls for renewing and strengthening the assault weapons ban, including banning high-capacity magazines. AMA supported S. 150, the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013, which was introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).

The AMA has long considered the epidemic of gun violence to be a public health issue. While gun violence claims the lives of 91 Americans daily, there has been virtually no publicly funded research on it for almost 20 years because Congress has effectively imposed a ban on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) funding for conducting research on gun violence and how to prevent it. Congress also extended the research ban to National Institutes of Health (NIH). The AMA supports lifting the current ban and restoring federal funding for CDC, NIH and other federal agencies to conduct research on gun violence.

On March 24, 2017, the American Medical Association and the American Bar Association presented the program, Preventing Gun Violence: Moving From Crisis to Action. Speakers discussed what it means to take a public health approach to the gun violence crisis, evidence-based interventions being implemented in Chicago, potential policy interventions to limit high-risk individuals’ access to guns and strategies physicians can use to promote gun safety.