Thursday, August 8, 2019

Time for Action on Firearm Violence Is Now, Says APA

APA on Wednesday joined six other physician and health professional organizations in calling for action to address the public health epidemic of firearm-related injury and death.

“Our nation is in the midst of an epidemic of firearm-related injuries and deaths, and we must treat this as a public health crisis,” APA President Bruce Schwartz, M.D., said in a press release. “We see the long-lasting mental health impact firearm-related violence and injury has on our patients every day, and it is time for us to come together as a nation to address this epidemic.”

The call to action was published yesterday in the Annals of Internal Medicine. In the article, Schwartz and leaders from the AMA, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Physicians, American College of Surgeons, and the American Public Health Association outlined several specific policy recommendations to prevent firearm-related injury and death in the United States. These recommendations include the following:

  • Comprehensive criminal background checks for all firearm sales.
  • Further research into the causes and consequences of firearm injury and death.
  • Improved access to mental health care and caution against broadly including all individuals with a mental health disorder in a category of individuals prohibited from purchasing firearms.
  • Removal of barriers to physician counseling of patients about the health risks of firearms.
  • Reasonable laws and regulations governing firearms with high-capacity magazines and other features for rapid firing.
  • Enactment of extreme risk protection order laws, which allow families and law enforcement to petition a judge to temporarily remove firearms from individuals at imminent risk for using them to harm themselves or others.

“Across the United States, physicians have daily, firsthand experience with the devastating consequences of firearm-related injury, disability, and death. We witness the impact of these events not only on our patients, but also on their families and communities,” they wrote. “As with other public health crises, firearm-related injury and death are preventable. The medical profession has an obligation to advocate for changes to reduce the burden of firearm-related injuries and death on our patients, their families, our communities, our colleagues, and our society.”

“The house of medicine is unified in this call,” said APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A., in the press release. “The time for action is now.”

For related information, see the Psychiatric News articles “Most Americans Agree That Gun Violence Is Public Health Problem, Call for Action” and “Gun Violence: The Parkland Survivors and the End of Learned Helplessness?

(Image: Shutterstock/Orhan Cam)


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