Doctors say 2 policy changes could protect children from gun deaths

  • Doctors and medical associations spoke about the shooting in Uvalde, Texas.
  • Gun violence is the leading cause of death among children and adolescents, and it has been declared a public health crisis.
  • The American College of Physicians has called for background checks and safety training for gun owners.

The president of the American Academy of Pediatrics has had enough. Enough of the mass school shootings and enough of the federal government’s inaction in the face of such gun violence.

Hours after an 18-year-old gunman opened fire on a fourth-grade classroom in Uvalde, Texas, AAP President Dr. Moira Szilagyi released a statement mourning the 21 lives lost and calling to a change in policy.

“As a pediatrician, parent and grandmother, I mourn with all the families of the children and adults who were killed today in Uvalde, Texas, victims of a gunman who opened fire incomprehensibly in an elementary school,” Szilagyi said in the statement.

“When are we, as a nation, going to stand up for all these children? What will it take, finally, for our leaders in government to do something meaningful to protect them?”

The AAP was not alone in condemning the attack and calling on lawmakers to action. Szilagyi’s statement was one of many released by major American medical associations, joined by a chorus of physicians, medical school directors, nurses and surgeons who quickly called on lawmakers to enact restrictions.” Common Sense” on guns and to fund gun violence prevention in the aftermath of the Uvalde shooting.

“As doctors, our mission is to heal and maintain health – but too often the wounds we see in America today resemble the wounds I saw in war,” Major General told retired, Dr. Gerald Harmon, now president of the American Medical Association. , said in a statement.

“A week after Buffalo, 10 years after Sandy Hook, 23 years after Columbine; places and cities change, but the story is the same – too easy access to guns, inaction on very popular and common-sense like background checks, and countless lives lost or changed forever.”

This is not the first time the medical community has rallied against gun violence

In 2016, the AMA declared gun violence a “public health crisis” – and that was before gun-related injuries became the number one cause of death among children and adolescents.

In 2020, firearms overtook car crashes as the leading cause of death for children ages 1-19 in the United States.

“Gun injuries are NOW THE LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH in children/adolescents…surpassing motor vehicle accidents,” wrote Dr. Vinny Arora, dean of the Pritzker School of Medicine at the University of Chicago. Tweeter. “Laws have made driving safer. We need to do the same with guns.”

Halfway across the country in Arizona, trauma surgeon Dr. Bellal Joseph tweeted that while flags will be ordered from half the staff in memory of the dead, trauma surgeons like him will “show up today across the country to face senseless gun violence”.

Dr. Bindi Naik-Mathuria, a pediatric surgeon at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas, tweeted a photo of what an assault rifle blast looks like:

“Surgeons cannot save children with this level of injury,” she wrote. “There is NO place for assault rifles in civilian life.”

Doctors have clear policy ideas to regulate guns, including more background checks and safety courses

In 2018, when the National Rifle Association suggested on Twitter that doctors should “stay in their lane” on gun control, the CPA responded, “We wish we could. Instead, we commit to talking to our patients about gun violence every time. risk factors are present.

After the Uvalde shooting, many doctors once again tweeted the hashtag #ThisIsOurLane.

In fact, doctors and public health experts have many clear policy ideas about how to change this status quo.

1. Invest $1.4 billion in research

When the Biden administration recently offered to spend an additional $60 million on gun violence research, epidemiologist Katelyn Jetelina, who runs a popular public health blog on Substack, said, “It’s not enough. “.

According to a 2017 study, cited by Jetelina, $1.4 billion in research funding would more closely match the current gun death rate. Currently, gun safety research is woefully underfunded. Of the top 30 causes of death in the United States, the only one that receives less funding per fatal injury is falls.

“For context, the NIH receives $6.56 billion allocated for cancer research,” she said.

2. Background check and training

At the individual level, the American College of Physicians already recommends that doctors “counsel patients about the risk of having firearms in the home”.

Studies consistently show that people with easy access to guns are more likely to die for all kinds of reasons.

The CPA says it “supports appropriate regulation of the purchase of legal firearms to reduce firearm-related injuries and deaths.”

Two simple tools the CPA has offered to stem the tide of tragic gun deaths are to ensure that all gun sales in the United States:

  • are subject to a criminal background check, and
  • require “satisfactory completion of an appropriate firearms safety education program”.

This is already done in many other countries, such as Switzerland, where people have guns, but senseless gun deaths are much less common. In fact, 90% of all childhood gun deaths in high-income countries occur in the United States, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“Thoughts and prayers won’t save us,” Dr. Megan Ranney, an emergency physician at Brown University who is also a co-founder of the American Foundation for the Reduction of Gunshot Injuries in Medicine, tweeted.

“It’s high time for a global effort to reduce #gun violence.”

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