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Medical groups demand lawmakers act to reduce gun violence


Organizations representing doctors and hospitals call for stricter controls on gun sales, raising age limit for buying semi-automatic weapons

Doctors’ and hospital organizations are calling on lawmakers to tighten restrictions on firearms sales and take other actions to reduce gun violence following mass shootings at a supermarket in New York, a Texas elementary school, and one at a Tulsa, Oklahoma hospital that took the lives of two physicians.

“Our policymakers need to work quickly to come together on policies that will reduce firearms-related injuries and deaths,” American College of Physicians (ACP) President Ryan D. Mire, MD, FACP, said in a written statement. Mire noted that the gunman in Tulsa bought an AR-15 rifle, similar to the weapon used in other mass shootings, the day of the killing.

“These weapons, designed to kill and injure as many people as possible as rapidly as possible, have no legitimate civilian use; we reiterate our call on Congress and states to immediately ban their sales,” Mire said.

In 2018 the ACP issued a position paper recommending that gun violence be treated as a public health and stating that doctors have a responsibility to speak out on preventing firearms-related deaths and injuries. In response, the National Rifle Association (NRA) tweeted that doctors should “stay in their lane,” prompting widespread backlash against the NRA, especially from physicians who have treated victims of gun violence.

The American Medical Association (AMA) responded to the recent shootings by reiterating its 2016 declaration that “gun violence is out of control in the United States and without real-world, common-sense federal actions it will not abate.”

The association also wrote to the chair and ranking member of the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee urging passage of the “Protecting Our Kids Act,” a package of eight previously introduced bills focused on preventing firearms violence. In particular, the AMA said it supports provisions in the bill that would:

  • increase the purchasing age for semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21;
  • ban the importation, sale, manufacture, transfer or possession of high-capacity ammunition magazines and bump stocks and related devices;
  • close the “ghost-gun loophole;” and
  • create federal requirements for safe gun storage and establishing strong penalties for any violations.

Following President Biden’s televised address about the shootings Thursday evening the American Academy of Family Physicians tweeted its approval and urged Congress “to be on the right side of public health & pass common sense gun laws such as strengthening background checks and safe storage for firearms.”

The American Hospital Association, in a written statement from its president and CEO Rick Pollack, noted that the Tulsa shooting was the 233rd mass shooting in 2022, including 20 just in the days between the ones in Tulsa and Uvalde, Texas.

“The Tulsa shooting further reinforces the need for action to be taken to stop these tragic events,” Pollack said. “America’s hospitals and health systems experience each and every day firsthand the devastating impact all forms of violence have on individuals’ lives and health. And they see how violence can ripple through a community, affecting not just the injured but their family, friends and neighbors.”

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