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ACP Calls for Sweeping New Policies to Keep Guns Away From Those a Threat to Themselves, Others

Washington, DC (October 30, 2018) — The American College of Physicians (ACP) has updated our firearms policy paper, Reducing Firearm-Related Injuries and Deaths in the U.S., released in 2014, offering nine evidence-based strategies that will help reduce firearms-related injuries and deaths by keeping guns out of the hands of those at risk of harming themselves or others. The new recommendations include support for laws to prohibit persons with a history of domestic violence—including persons subject to restraining orders—from buying and possessing firearms and for extreme risk prevention laws to allow family members to seek an immediate court order to remove guns from a family member who is at risk of using firearms to inflict harm on themselves or others. In light of Saturday’s mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, ACP released a statement expressing our frustration, and dismay, at the unchecked firearms violence and hate crimes happening too frequently across the country.

Other recommendations include support for safe gun storage laws to reduce the risk of injuries and deaths due to unlocked, unsecured firearms in a household, opposition to concealed carry reciprocity, and a reaffirmation of ACP’s call for a ban on the sale of “assault” weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines, with additional guidance to legislators on how to define which weapons should be subject to such a ban.

“The U.S. has one of the highest rates of gun violence in the world, and as physicians, we have a responsibility to advocate for firearms measures that will keep our patients and their families safe and healthy,” said Ana María López, MD, MPH, MACP, president, ACP. “Laws to keep guns away from domestic violence offenders and those who are at imminent risk of harming themselves and others are urgently needed. Women, in particular, are at risk when domestic violence offenders are allowed to possess firearms.”

For more than two decades, ACP has advocated for the urgent need for meaningful legislation that would decrease firearms-related injuries and deaths. To update our policy positions, ACP addressed policy gaps based on new health care policy research. ACP’s updated position paper delineates the following:

  • ACP supports strengthening and enforcing state and federal laws to prohibit domestic violence offenders from purchasing or possessing firearms to reduce firearms-related injuries and deaths.

In addition to partners or children; domestic violence offenders also include dating partners, cohabitants, stalkers, and those who victimize other family members.

  • ACP opposes concealed carry reciprocity legislation that would force states to accept concealed carry weapon permits from other states. ACP advocates that states permitting concealed carry require training in the handling and storage of firearms to reduce the risk of deaths and injuries.There is a growing body of evidence that suggests the concealed carry laws may create a greater risk of firearms injuries and deaths than any protective value they may provide.
  • ACP supports child access prevention laws that hold firearm owners accountable for the safe storage of firearms by imposing criminal liability on individuals who store firearms where minors could gain access to them.
  • ACP supports legislation to regulate and limit the manufacture, sale, transfer, and possession of firearms designed to increase rapid killing capacity, including large-capacity magazines and devices such as bump stocks. Additionally, ACP would support increasing the minimum age to purchase semiautomatic weapons and large-capacity magazines to 21, only as an interim step toward a complete ban.
  • ACP supports the enactment of extreme risk protection order laws which allow family members and law enforcement to petition a court to temporarily remove firearms from individuals who are at risk of harming themselves or others while providing due process protections.

ACP has a longstanding commitment to advocating for policies and increased resources to reduce firearms-related injuries and deaths. Following the mass shootings at Sandy Hook, Connecticut; Charleston, SC; Orlando, Las Vegas, NV, and Parkland Florida in February 2018, and many others, ACP has consistently asked Congress to provide $50 million in funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to conduct public health research into firearm morbidity and mortality prevention. ACP urges physicians to pledge to discuss the dangers of firearms with their patients.

“Firearms-related injuries and deaths are tragedies that can be prevented by common-sense legislation to keep guns from people who pose a threat, ban the sale of assault weapons and bump stocks, and require that firearms and ammunition be stored safely and securely,” said Dr. López. “Now is the time to stop prioritizing firearms over patients and the health of the public. Now is the time for policymakers to take concrete action to end this epidemic.”

All ACP firearms-related health policy content published in Annals of Internal Medicine is free to the public at http://annals.org/aim/pages/firearm-related-content.

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About the American College of Physicians

The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization in the United States with members in more than 145 countries worldwide. ACP membership includes 154,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students. Internal medicine physicians are specialists who apply scientific knowledge and clinical expertise to the diagnosis, treatment, and compassionate care of adults across the spectrum from health to complex illness. Follow ACP on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Contact: Julie Hirschhorn, (202) 261-4523, jhirschhorn@acponline.org