The AAFP and four other physician organizations today told President Donald Trump and members of Congress that they must take firm action to deal with gun violence as a public health epidemic.
Although this most recent message was issued after a gunman killed 17 children and adults at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Feb. 14, it echoes earlier urgent calls to action from the AAFP and resolutions from members.
The organizations -- the AAFP, American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American College of Physicians, and American Psychiatric Association -- laid out three concrete steps for the president and Congress to take:
- Label violence caused by the use of guns as a national public health epidemic.
- Fund appropriate research at the CDC as part of the 2018 federal budget.
- Establish constitutionally appropriate restrictions on the manufacturing and sale, for civilian use, of large-capacity magazines and firearms with features designed to increase their rapid and extended killing capacity.
"We urge our national leaders to recognize in this moment what the medical community has long understood: We must treat this epidemic no differently than we would any other pervasive threat to public health," said the organizations, which together include 450,000 physician and medical student members. "We must identify the causes and take evidence-based approaches to prevent future suffering."
The attack in Parkland was the latest incident in a public health epidemic that adversely affects patients as it continues to increase in frequency and lethality. And although mass killings draw the most public attention, this epidemic of gun violence puts "far too many Americans" at daily risk for suicide, homicide and unintentional injury, the organizations said.
"The families of the victims in Parkland and all those whose lives have been impacted by daily acts of gun violence deserve more than our thoughts and prayers," the organizations said. "They need action from the highest levels of our government to stop this epidemic of gun violence now."
Related AAFP News Coverage
Leader Voices Blog: A Conversation About Violence as a Public Health Crisis
More From AAFP
Familydoctor.org: Gun Safety(familydoctor.org)
Annals of Internal Medicine: Firearm-Related Injury and Death in the United States: A Call to Action From 8 Health Professional Organizations and the American Bar Association