AAFP, Medical and Public Health Organizations Call for Fast-tracking Policies To Prevent Firearm-related Injury and Death

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Contact:
Leslie Champlin
American Academy of Family Physicians
913-906-6252
lchampli@aafp.org


LEAWOOD, Kan. — The American Academy of Family Physicians and six other public health and medical associations today called for policies that begin to address firearm-related injuries and deaths. The call, “Firearm-Related Injury and Death in the United States: A Call to Action From the Nation’s Leading Physician and Public Health Professional Organizations(annals.org),” was published today in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

“Somehow, we need to come together as a nation on this issue,” said AAFP President John Cullen, MD. “Treating firearm injuries as a public health issue is an important first step. We did this for motor vehicle accidents and have seen a significant decrease in injuries. We didn’t try to remove cars, we made them safer. The public health approach worked. We need more data regarding gun-related injuries and deaths, but both sides of the debate should come together now and work on solutions—including safe storage laws, expanded background checks, research and improved access to mental health services—we can all agree on.”

Joining the American College of Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Surgeons, American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association and the American Public Health Association in the policy paper, the AAFP called for:

  • Comprehensive criminal background checks for all firearm purchases, including sales by gun dealers, sales at gun shows, private sales, and transfers between individuals with limited exceptions should be required.
  • Research to improve understanding of the causes and consequences of firearm-related injury and death and to identify, test, and implement strategies to reduce these events is important.
  • Addition of dating partners, stalkers or individuals who commit violence against another family member to the categories of people prohibited by federal law from buying firearms. Offenders who have been adjudicated guilty of a crime of violence against a family member or intimate partner, including dating partners, cohabitants, stalkers, and those who victimize a family member other than a partner or child, should be reported to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System and be prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms.
  • Laws that hold firearms owners accountable for negligently storing firearms. Safe storage is essential to reducing the risk for unintentional or intentional injuries or deaths from firearms, particularly in homes with children, adolescents, people with dementia, people with substance use disorders, and the small subset of people with serious mental illnesses that are associated with greater risk of harming themselves and/or others.
  • Improved access to mental health care paired with safeguards against broadly prohibiting all individuals with a mental health or substance use disorder from purchasing firearms.
  • Enactment of extreme risk protection order laws, which allow families and law enforcement to petition a judge to temporarily remove firearms from individuals at imminent risk for using them to harm themselves or others.
  • Protection of confidential patient-physician communication on issues that affect their health, including counseling at-risk patients about mitigating the risks associated with firearms in the home and firearm safety.
  • Constitutionally appropriate policies that effectively address high-capacity magazines and firearms with features designed to increase their rapid and extended killing capacity.

“In this call to action, physicians and public health experts emphasize the need to improve the health and safety of our patients, their families and communities, while respecting the U.S. Constitution,” said Cullen. “By focusing on the areas that we can agree on as a nation, we can significantly reduce the number of people injured or killed by firearms.”

 

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Founded in 1947, the American Academy of Family Physicians represents 134,600 physicians and medical students nationwide, and it is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.

Family physicians conduct approximately one in five of the total medical office visits in the United States per year – more than any other specialty. Family physicians provide comprehensive, evidence-based, and cost-effective care dedicated to improving the health of patients, families and communities. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing and personal patient-physician relationship where the family physician serves as the hub of each patient’s integrated care team. More Americans depend on family physicians than on any other medical specialty.

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