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Now is time for federal action to curb firearms violence, ACP says


School shooting in Texas shows need for gun policies that have broad public support.

Now is time for federal action to curb firearms violence, ACP says

The mass shooting in Texas that claimed the lives of 19 grade-school students and two adults shows gun violence is a public health crisis that needs immediate attention, said the leader of the American College of Physicians (ACP).

The physicians group was “extremely saddened” to hear about the May 24 shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, said a published statement from ACP President Ryan D. Mire, MD, FACP. The 18-year-old gunman was shot and killed by responding law enforcement officers, according to news reports.

For more than two decades, ACP has called for “common sense” policies to reduce firearm injuries and deaths. It is time for lawmakers to act on legislation that will save lives by reducing firearms dangers, Mire said.
“Members of Congress and other policymakers need to do more,” Mire said in the published statement. “Many policies that could mitigate gun violence have broad public support; like closing loopholes in our background check system and enacting ‘red flag’ laws. We also call on policymakers to move forward with banning weapons designed to kill as many people as rapidly as possible, sometimes called assault weapons, like the weapon that was evidently purchased legally and used by the shooter in Uvalde.”

The Senate must pass legislation that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, has said that he will move forward this week to improve the background check system, Mire said.

“As a country we cannot, and should not, continue to face shooting after shooting, while doing nothing to help prevent future incidents,” Mire said. “Expressing sorrow for the victims and their loved ones, while standing in the way of policies that would reduce firearms-related deaths and injuries, are hollow words. We need action now. Firearms-related violence is a public health crisis that needs immediate intervention.”

Mire called out the National Rifle Association, the gun rights group that “has steadfastly opposed efforts to make the country safer from gun violence and told ACP in 2019 to stay in our lane.” Physicians “will not be intimidated from speaking out for the care of our patients,” he said.

Mire also encouraged physicians to consider signing the Health Care Professional’s Pledge to ask their patients about firearms and counsel them about reducing firearms risks in their households.

It was Mire’s second statement on firearms violence this month. The week before, Mire decried the racially motivated shooting that took place in Buffalo, New York, claiming the lives of 10 people at a supermarket in a predominantly Black neighborhood on May 14.

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Jennifer N. Lee, MD, FAAFP
© National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
© National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health