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AMA adopts policies aimed at curbing gun violence


Association calls for enforcement of background checks, end to social media posts glorifying gun violence

Assault rifle and handgun with ammo ©Mariusz Blach-stock.adobe.com

©Mariusz Blach-stock.adobe.com

The American Medical Association (AMA), at its annual meeting this week, approved a series of policies designed to reduce the spiraling number of gun-related deaths and injuries across the country.

“As mass shootings in the U.S. continue at an alarming rate, it is critical that we further strengthen policies aimed at preventing firearm violence,” Jack Resneck Jr., M.D., AMA immediate past president, said in a statement. “We will continue to advocate for laws and policies that reduce the risk of firearm violence and keep our communities safe.”

According to the Gun Violence Archive, there were 19,418 gun-related deaths and 16,408 gun injuries from January 1 through June 15 of this year. For all of 2022 there were 20,200 deaths and 38,550 injuries due to guns.

The areas covered by the new AMA policies include:

  • Background checks and sales of multiple firearms to the same purchaser

Under the new policy, the AMA says it will advocate for federal and state policies that prevent inheriting, gifting, or transferring ownership of firearms without adhering to all federal and state requirements for background checks, waiting periods, and licensure requirements. It will also advocate for federal and state policies to prevent the sale of multiple firearms to the same purchaser within five business days and to implement background checks for ammunition purchases.

“No individual should be able to purchase an arsenal of firearms in a short period of time or buy ammunition without a background check,” Resneck said.

  • Medical professionals’ use of protection orders to prevent firearm violence among high-risk patients

More than 20 states have enacted extreme risk protection order (ERPO) laws that allow law enforcement, family or household members, and/or intimate partners to petition a court to temporarily remove firearms from high-risk individuals. The AMA policy aims to include medical professionals as parties able to ask a court to prevent someone from purchasing or possessing firearms when there is a high or imminent risk for violence. The policy builds on one adopted in 2022 calling for the AMA to develop a toolkit to improve physicians’ use of ERPOs.

“Physicians are encouraged to ask patients at risk of firearm injury about access to firearms during routine patient visits. Allowing physicians to petition the courts when they encounter a patient at risk of firearm violence is necessary and could help prevent further firearm-related tragedies,” Resneck said.

Social media posts glorifying firearm violence

The AMA says under its new policy it will call for all social media sites to “vigorously and aggressively” remove posts containing videos, photographs, and written online comments encouraging and glorifying the use of firearms. It also recommends that social media sites continuously update and monitor their algorithms to detect and eliminate information that discusses and displays firearms and firearm violence in a way that encourages viewers to act violently.

“Misinformation and disinformation continue to spread through social media largely unchecked,” Resneck said. “We can’t sit by while firearm violence is glorified through social media sites. We implore social media sites to take immediate action to limit these dangerous posts.”

The association said it will “continue to leverage its communications channels and network to provide physicians with the most relevant, fact-based information and resources to share with their patients and continue to support policies to combat the further spread of misinformation and disinformation harmful to public health.”

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