ACP unveils program aimed at reducing gun violence

Goal is to encourage doctors to talk with patients about firearms safety and preventing gun-related deaths and injuries

assault rifle with handgun and ammunition ©Mariusz Blach

©Mariusz Blach

The American College of Physicians (ACP) is launching an initiative to help its members talk to patients about how to prevent gun-related deaths and injuries.

The program, unveiled at the ACP’s 2023 annual meeting, includes a guide for speaking with patients about firearms injuries as one strategy for helping to mitigate the impact of gun violence. It also includes video with tips and strategies for having those conversations.

The guidance about speaking with patients comes on the heels of an earlier call in Annals of Internal Medicine for health care providers to pledge to speak with patients about firearm injuries when risk factors for such injuries are present.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 48,830 Americans died from gun-related violence in 2021, the most of any year on record. The total includes murders and suicides, along with accidental deaths, deaths involving law enforcement and those whose circumstances couldn’t be determined.

In a media briefing announcing the program’s launch, ACP President Ryan Mire, MD, MACP, said, “ACP has long advocated for a public health approach and common-sense measures that would help curb this escalating crisis.” He noted that the recent shooting at a school in Nashville occurred 10 minutes away from the office where he treats patients.

Shari Erickson, ACP’s chief advocacy officer and senior vice president of governmental affairs and public policy, said the organization has long advocated in favor of policies that could help prevent firearms-related deaths and injuries. Among its policy recommendations have been keeping guns away from individuals who pose a threat, banning the sale of assault weapons and bump stocks, and requiring firearms and ammunition to be stored safely and securely.

While each individual recommendation could have a small impact, Erickson added, taken together they would significantly mitigate deaths and injuries from firearms and help to save lives.

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