AMA labels gun violence a public health crisis

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Following on the heels of the deadly Orlando nightclub shooting, the American Medical Association (AMA) announced adoption of a policy labeling gun violence a “public health crisis” in the United States.

The group separately resolved to lobby Congress to overturn the legislation prohibiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from conducting research on gun violence.

While the AMA and other healthcare groups have long advocated for stronger measures to prevent gun violence, the recent Orlando shooting has sparked a renewed focus on the subject, according to a story from NPR. “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,” said AMA President Steven J. Stack, M.D., in a statement.

The AMA’s existing policies, adopted in the late 1980s, include support for increased firearms safety, mandatory waiting periods, stricter enforcement of federal and state gun safety legislation, background checks for all purchasers and mandatory penalties for crimes committed with guns, according to the group’s announcement. A new resolution aims to lobby Congress to roll back a law enacted in 1996 that prevents “any gun research that could be interpreted as endorsing gun control, according to NPR. While President Obama ordered the CDC to resume research on gun violence in 2013, NPR notes the agency has yet to act due to limited resources available to it.

The amount of political heat around the topic of guns has made it difficult to translate calls by physicians to address the topic, whether from a policy standpoint or directly with patients, as FiercePracticeManagement has previously reported. By targeting the research ban, the AMA joins the American Academy of Pediatrics, which also recently took aim at the legislation, according to NPR.

- here’s the AMA announcement
- read the NPR article
- see the American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement