The American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA) remains deeply committed to the safety and health of our patients, colleagues, and communities. We are particularly compelled to speak following the horrific events of February 14, 2018 in Parkland, Florida – yet another tragedy in a long string of acts of gun violence, which have become a uniquely American problem. While mass shootings gain the attention of media, shootings of individual victims occur every day in every part of this country. We are both heartbroken and encouraged by the outpouring of discussion about gun violence among youth in this country following this latest devastating shooting. As physicians, we bear witness to the carnage of gun violence in our emergency departments, operating rooms, and hospitals.
In 2015, with the recognition that firearm injury and death is a significant public health concern, AMWA formed a Gun Violence Prevention Task Force. After careful study and consideration of gun violence, the AMWA leadership presents the following recommendations, to be elaborated upon in a forthcoming position statement.
As physicians and women, we declare that gun violence is an urgent public health issue, requiring effective, evidence-based, and common-sense solutions.
- Physicians’ rights to discuss firearm safety and responsible gun storage within the confidential doctor-patient relationship.
- Expansion of evidence-based research related to gun violence as a public health issue, with an emphasis on increased federal funding.
- Development and inclusion of a standardized curriculum to educate medical students on the medical and public health implications of firearm injury and death.
- Broadening of child access prevention legislation that holds gun owners responsible for injury or death that results from negligent storage practices.
- Universal background checks on all gun sales.
- Expansion of legislation to prevent domestic violence offenders from possessing firearms.
- Expansion of mental health services and prevention programs, geared to the reduction of homicides and suicides by firearms.
- Policies that allow universities to prohibit firearms on all campuses including medical schools and university hospitals.
Suzanne Harrison, MD, FAAFP, FAMWA
President, American Medical Women’s Association
Learn more about the work of AMWA Gun Violence Prevention Task Force here.