Recently, Indiana experienced a unique version of gun violence in the form of a school shooting. This public health crisis needs to be addressed. Supporting physicians to promote gun safety within their practices, ensuring all learners have a safe learning environment, advocating for teaching our patients’ about gun safety and firearm injury prevention and promoting funding for research, AMWA is working nationally to decrease the burden of fatal and non-fatal gun violence. Instead of more moments of silence and prayers for healing, we call for increased support for the medical community and funding resources necessary to appropriately study the issue of gun violence.
Physician counseling of patients and parents about firearm safety is effective in promoting gun safety in the home, but 10 states have also sought to limit this discussion.
All physicians, especially those who work with children, must be knowledgeable and able to discuss safe practices with their patients. Gun safety should be as common as discussing seatbelt use, drugs, alcohol, and pool safety.
Negligence in safe firearm storage which leads to harm of a child or young adult should result in a felony penalty for the gun owner and we support the child access prevention (CAP) law.
Gun violence is a public health issue. It affects all people and to better determine the steps necessary to reduce the incidence and impact of gun violence research and data are essential. Monies designated to study gun violence were removed from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) budget, effectively shutting down the ability to study gun violence and create safer guns. Medical organizations such as the American Medical Association (AMA) and AMWA call for the reinstitution of funding that would allow for the study of gun violence and determine a way to develop safer guns. Think of the efforts that went into creating safer cars. That information came from research and data and ultimately made car driving safer while not eliminating cars from the road.
There are many ways to tackle the problem of gun violence in our communities. To protect our families and our neighborhoods, we must work together to address this significant public health issue.
Theresa Rohr-Kirchgraber, MD, FACP, FAMWA Co-Chair AMWA Advocacy Committee