Frustrated with a lack of action on gun control by the country’s lawmakers, the American Medical Association adopted a series of sweeping policies aimed at preventing gun violence this week during its annual meeting in Chicago.
“People are dying of gun violence in our homes, churches, schools, on street corners and at public gatherings, and it’s important that lawmakers, policy leaders and advocates on all sides seek common ground to address this public health crisis,” Dr. David Barbe, immediate past president of the organization and a family physician in Missouri, said in a statement.
Barbe said that treating gun injuries was becoming an all too common experience for doctors.
‘It doesn’t have to be this way’
“In emergency rooms across the country, the carnage of gun violence has become a too routine experience. It doesn’t have to be this way, and we urge lawmakers to act,” Barbe said.
The country’s largest physicians group voted to support nearly a dozen policies including:
- A call for banning all assault-type weapons, bump stocks and related devices, high-capacity magazines and armor-piercing bullets.
- Opposing the arming of teachers in schools and keeping schools gun-free zones.
- Requiring all gun owners to complete a gun safety course and register all firearms.
- Increasing the federal legal age limit for all firearms and ammunition from 18 to 21.
- Opposing federal laws that allow “concealed carry” permits to cross state lines.
- Supporting laws that prohibit individuals who are under domestic violence restraining orders or who are convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence crime or stalking from possessing or purchasing firearms.
- Requiring that domestic violence restraining orders and gun violence restraining orders be entered into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
- Allowing family members and partners and law enforcement officials to petition courts for gun removal from individuals considered at high risk for violence.
The group also modified policies that evaluated the role of guns in suicide. Of the almost 176,000 gun-related deaths between 2012 to 2016, 62% of them were suicides, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Guns in America
This is not the first time the group — which represents approximately a quarter of the nation’s doctors — has taken a stand on gun violence. Over the past two decades, the association has made at least 16 policy recommendations that have included calls for background checks and waiting periods for all gun purchases.
In 2016, after the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, the association called gun violence a public health crisis.
The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, in February prompted renewed calls nationwide for gun control measures. And America’s support for tougher gun control laws is the highest seen since 1993: A February CNN poll found that 70% of Americans back stricter gun laws.
According to data from the CDC from 2012 to 2016, about 36,000 people died annually from gun violence, an average of about 96 people a day.
It is unknown just how many guns there are in American households today, but it is estimated that 32% to 42% of the country lives in households with guns. Americans own more guns per capita than residents of any other country, according to the CDC. Nearly half of the estimated 650 million guns worldwide are owned by Americans.