Firearm Injury Prevention: Position Summary
The American College of Physicians thinks that gun violence and firearm injury prevention must be dealt with as high-priority issues. The College thinks that physicians must become more active in counseling patients about firearm safety and more involved in community efforts to restrict ownership and sale of handguns.
- The preventable loss of life and injury and the resulting pain, suffering, and consumption of human, economic, and healthcare resources demand that firearm injuries be considered a public health issue requiring immediate attention.
- The College favors strong legislation to ban the sale, possession, and manufacture for civilian use of all automatic and semi-automatic assault weapons. Existing exceptions to the assault weapons ban for hunting and sporting purposes should be more narrowly defined.
- The College supports law enforcement measures, including required use of tracer elements on ammunition and weapons and identifying markings (such as serial numbers) on weapons, to aid in the identification of weapons used in crimes.
- The sale and possession of handguns should be restricted. Purchases of handguns should be subject to a waiting period, satisfactory completion of a criminal background check, and proof of satisfactory completion of an appropriate educational program on firearm safety. The scheduled expiration of the waiting period and background check provisions of the Brady Act must be eliminated.
- Handguns should not be sold to minors, persons with criminal records, or persons who are known threats to themselves or others. Permits to carry concealed weapons should be issued only to persons with special justifiable needs, such as law enforcement personnel.
- All firearms should incorporate safety features to make them as child-proof as possible. The high incidence of injury and death in children and young adults from firearms highlights the need to restrict gun sales to persons younger than 20 years of age and to adopt design features that make it difficult for children to operate firearms. Reducing the exposure of children and young adults to firearms is clearly a preventive action that can help save lives.
- The College favors strong penalties and criminal prosecution for persons who sell guns illegally.
- ACP-ASIM is a member of the Handgun Epidemic Lowering Plan (HELP) Network, a network of medical and allied organizations and individuals who want to reduce death, disability, and suffering caused by handguns.