Statement attributable to:
Gerald E. Harmon, M.D.
President, American Medical Association
“The shooting yesterday at an elementary school is horrific and sadly—and unacceptably—all too familiar in the United States. A week after Buffalo, 10 years after Sandy Hook, 23 years after Columbine; the places and cities change, but the story is the same—too-easy access to firearms, inaction on wildly popular, common-sense safety measures like background checks, and countless lives lost or changed forever.
“As physicians, our mission is to heal and to maintain health. But too often the wounds we see in America today resemble the wounds I’ve seen in war. Each year more than 45,000 Americans die from firearm violence, and recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that firearm deaths are increasing and disparities are widening, with young people, males, and Black people experiencing the highest firearm homicide rates. More and more it is clear no place is safe—malls, schools, movie theaters, places of worship, and grocery stores have all been targeted. Firearm injuries and deaths are preventable. And while the ideal time to act and find common-sense solutions and common ground might have been years ago, the best we can do now is act today. We call on lawmakers, leaders and advocates to say enough is enough. No more Americans should die of firearm violence. No more people should lose loved ones.”
Over the past two decades, the AMA has developed numerous policy recommendations to reduce firearm trauma, injury and death, including:
- A waiting period for firearm availability
- Background checks for all firearm purchasers
- Firearm safety and research and enhancing access to mental health care
- Gun safety education and regulation of interstate traffic of guns
- Distribution of firearm safety materials in the clinical setting
- Limit and control the possession and storage of weapons on school property
- Firearm safety counseling with patients
- Trigger locks and gun cabinets to improve firearm safety
- Data on firearm deaths and injuries
- Prevention of unintentional shooting deaths among children
- Ban on handguns and automatic repeating weapons
- Prevention of firearm accidents in children
- Waiting period before gun purchase
- Restriction of assault weapons
- Mandated penalties for crimes committed with firearms
- Public health policy approach for preventing violence in America
The AMA declared firearm-related violence–one of the leading causes of intentional and unintentional injuries and deaths in the United States–a public health crisis in in 2016. The AMA has also developed resources to help physicians address firearm injuries, including a continuing medical education (CME) module designed to assist physicians in recognizing risk factors and effectively communicating with patients to reduce the risk of firearm injury and death. The AMA will continue to support policies and advocate for initiatives aimed at encouraging firearm safety and preventing firearm-related injuries and deaths.
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About the American Medical Association
The American Medical Association is the physicians’ powerful ally in patient care. As the only medical association that convenes 190+ state and specialty medical societies and other critical stakeholders, the AMA represents physicians with a unified voice to all key players in health care. The AMA leverages its strength by removing the obstacles that interfere with patient care, leading the charge to prevent chronic disease and confront public health crises and, driving the future of medicine to tackle the biggest challenges in health care.