Healthcare professionals can take steps to make their voices heard on gun violence in the United States.
The editors of several major medical research journals, including the Journal of the American Medical Association, New England Journal of Medicine, Annals of Internal Medicine and PLOS ONE, published a joint editorial that compiled several ways that providers could reduce the impact of gun violence in the communities they serve, including:
- Learn more about legislation, and speak with local representatives. This includes attending town halls and meetings, calling congressional offices and writing to legislators at the local, state and federal levels. Learn more about firearm legislation and join organizations that promote sensible changes.
- Find out how to leverage the power of your healthcare organization. Meet with leaders and learn about how to publicize where your organization stands.
- Learn more about gun safety, and what your patients are doing to stay safe. Be confident directing patients to resources that can help improve safety, and keep an eye out for potential suicide risks.
- Speak out. Silence doesn't accomplish anything, the editors wrote.
"The only thing that will change the world for the better is a group of people who believe that they can change the world," they wrote. "With regard to firearm-related injury and death, let’s each be part of that group."
Last year, shortly after the mass shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida, the American Medical Association named gun violence a public health crisis.
“With approximately 30,000 men, women and children dying each year at the barrel of a gun in elementary schools, movie theaters, workplaces, houses of worship and on live television, the United States faces a public health crisis of gun violence,” then-AMA President Steven J. Stack, M.D., said in a statement.
Research suggests that the costs to the healthcare system are high. A study published earlier this month in Health Affairs found that more than 700,000 people have been treated for firearm-related injuries over the past decade, accounting for $2.8 billion each year in inpatient and emergency room costs.
A recent court ruling gives doctors the ability to ask patients if they have guns in the home without worrying about potentially losing their license or facing sanctions.