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Monday Jun 13, 2016

Time for Congress to End 20-year Ban on Gun Research

If I told you the U.S. government stopped funding research into one of its most pressing public health concerns, you might conclude that the problem had been solved. But that would be incorrect. When a homegrown terrorist shot more than 100 people this weekend in an Orlando nightclub, it was the 176th time that the United States had experienced a mass shooting(www.massshootingtracker.org) (four or more people injured) in a year that is not even half over.

Every year, more than 33,000 Americans die because of gun violence and more than twice as many are injured. Yet for two decades, Congress has restricted the CDC from conducting research related to gun violence.

The AAFP and more than 100 other stakeholder organizations sent a letter to Congressional leaders in April, urging them to end the ban on gun violence research. Today we are again calling on Congress to address this important issue.

Research into gun violence could provide us with valuable information about protecting children from accidental shootings, suicide prevention, the impact of various state gun policies and more.

As these events continue to happen -- from Newtown, Conn., to Fort Hood, Texas, and San Bernadino, Calif. -- there will be opportunities for physicians to step forward and ask what we can do differently. Ending the ban on research would be a wise first step.

I'm at the AMA meeting this week in Chicago, and the AAFP and other physician organizations are pledging to do what we can to heal our nation. I am proud of my colleagues at the American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Physicians, American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and American Psychiatric Association who joined with me to share the message of hope and healing below. Our nation must have an honest and frank discussion on reducing both the tendency and capacity for violence in our society. Hopefully, now is that time.

Wanda Filer, M.D., M.B.A., is president of the AAFP.

Posted at 08:59PM Jun 13, 2016 by Wanda Filer, M.D.

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