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ACP-ASIM Pressroom

ACP-ASIM Calls for Restrictions on Sale of Handguns

May 3, 1999

Gun violence viewed as a high priority public health issue

(Washington, DC): Forceful legislation is needed to restrict the sale and possession of handguns, said American College of Physicians - American Society of Internal Medicine President Whitney W. Addington, MD, FACP, in a statement released today.

"Internists are very concerned about the preventable injuries, unnecessary loss of life, and consumption of health care resources caused by firearms and consider gun violence to be a high priority public health issue," said Dr. Addington. "Further, in light of the information being reported concerning the methods used to obtain firearms by the Columbine shooting suspects, we support the need for much greater scrutiny of firearm sales."

The ACP-ASIM supports a number of policy initiatives to reduce gun violence including:

  • The purchases of handguns should be made contingent upon completing an appropriate educational program on firearm safety.
  • The five day "cooling off" waiting period of the Brady Act should be reestablished.
  • All firearms should incorporate safety features, such as trigger locks, to make them as child-proof as possible.
  • All firearms kept in the home should be kept locked and unloaded.
  • Handguns should not be sold to minors, persons with criminal records, or persons who are known threats to themselves or others.
  • Persons who sell guns illegally should be subject to strong penalties and criminal prosecution.
  • Permits to carry concealed weapons should be issued only to persons with special justifiable needs, such as law enforcement personnel.

"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 21 years of age and to adopt design features that make it difficult for children to operate firearms," said Dr. Addington. "Reducing the exposure of children and young adults to firearms is clearly a preventive action that can help save lives."

ACP-ASIM is the nation's largest medical specialty organization and the second largest physician group. Membership comprises more than 115,000 internal medicine physicians and medical students. Internists are the the major providers of medical care to adults in America and treat more Medicare patients than any other medical specialist.


Jack E. Pope, ACP-ASIM Washington Office, 202-261-4556

Note to Editors: A copy of the ACP-ASIM's position paper on "Firearm Injury Prevention" can be obtained online at http://www.acponline.org/journals/annals/01feb98/ppguns.htm, as well as an accompanying editorial, article, and letter to the editor from the Annals of Internal Medicine. See also: attached position summary.

Page updated: 11-04-03

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