Chris Mazzolini is the editorial director of Medical Economics
The ACP has for years called gun violence a public health issue, and has pushed for bans on assault weapons, more stringent background checks and increased funding for research into gun violence.
The American College of Physicians (ACP) continues to call for “common sense” gun reform even after they were targeted by the National Rifle Association (NRA) that resulted in a social media firestorm last year.
“It’s an important topic for our patients,” said Ana Maria Lopez, MD, the ACP’s president, during a news conference at the college’s annual conference in Philadelphia. “There are very few people who have not been touched by gun violence.”
In November, the NRA responded to ACP’s latest call for gun control and further gun violence research by tweeting that “someone should tell self-important anti-gun doctors to stay in their lane.”
The ACP has for years called gun violence a public health issue, and has pushed for bans on assault weapons, more stringent background checks and increased funding for research into gun violence. ACP officials also threw their support behind a new state law in Colorado that created “extreme risk protective orders” that allow police to temporarily seize a person’s guns if they are deemed a threat to themselves or others.
Many physicians took umbrage on social media, responding under the hashtag “this is my lane.” Some posted photos of themselves splashed in blood after they said they were operating on gun violence victims.
The back-and-forth between physicians and the NRA received national media coverage.
“It really brought medicine together, and brought together healthcare professionals to say that this is our lane and we have a voice here,” Lopez said.
In December, Medical Economics conducted a survey of physicians asking for their thoughts on gun violence. Two-thirds of respondents said physicians should be involved in the gun violence debate, and another 70 percent said physicians should ask patients about guns in their home during appointments. An additional 59 percent supported increased funding for gun research.
“I don’t have a problem with people having guns,” one physician respondent said in the Medical Economics survey. “I have a problem with dangerous people having guns and with people using/storing guns in an unsafe manner. This affects the health and safety of my patients. As a physician, I am involved, whether I want to be or not.”
Lopez said discussions with patients about guns in the home should be handled in a “straight-forward and honest” way. Questions she encouraged physicians to ask include whether patients have guns in their home, and if so, how they secure them.
Lopez said that new regulations and these conversations with patients can turn the tide on gun violence.
“Taken together these could really make substantial difference in public health,” Lopez said.