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ACP advocates on behalf on internists and their patients on a number of timely issues. Learn about where ACP stands on the following areas:
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ACP: Physicians have a right and responsibility to discuss
gun violence with their patients
April 10, 2014 — A new policy paper from the American College of
Physicians (ACP) offers nine strategies to address the societal,
health care, and regulatory barriers to reducing firearms-related
violence, injuries, and deaths in the United States. Reducing
Firearm-Related Injuries and Deaths in the United States is
published today in the peer-reviewed medical journal, Annals of
Principal among ACP's nine strategic imperatives is the
recommendation to approach firearm safety as a public health issue
so that policy decisions are based on scientific evidence. As such,
ACP strongly supports universal criminal background checks to keep
guns out of the hands of felons, persons with mental illnesses that
put them at greater risk of harming themselves or others, people
with substance use disorders, and others who current regulations
prohibit from owning guns.
The United States has the highest firearm-related mortality rate
among industrialized nations. ACP believes that a comprehensive,
multifaceted approach is necessary to reduce this epidemic of gun
violence and that physicians play a vital role.
"Patients have long trusted their physicians to advise them on
issues that affect their health," said Molly Cooke, MD, FACP,
president of ACP. "Physicians can play a critical role in educating
the public on the risks of firearm ownership and the need for
firearm safety through their encounters with their patients. ACP
strongly believes the patient-physician relationship should be
protected from laws that prevent physicians from initiating a
discussion about guns."
To inform its policy position, ACP's Health and Public Policy
Committee conducted a comprehensive review of the available data on
the impact of access to firearms, mental health, state and federal
firearms laws, and efforts to reduce firearms violence. ACP also
surveyed a large, nationally representative panel of internists in
the United States about their attitudes on firearms and firearm
"We concluded that firearm violence is not just a criminal
justice issue, but also a public health threat that requires the
nation's immediate attention," said Thomas Tape, MD, FACP, chair of
ACP's Health and Public Policy Committee. "As an organization
representing physicians who have first-hand experience with the
devastating impact of firearm-related violence, ACP has a
responsibility to participate in efforts to mitigate needless
Survey results suggest that ACP's position is supported by
internists. Eighty-five percent of internists surveyed believe that
firearm injury is a public health issue and 76 percent support
stricter gun control legislation. An overwhelming majority of
respondents favor mandatory background checks, mandatory
registration of all firearms, and bans on assault weapons, high
capacity magazines, and armor-piercing bullets. A full
report on the physician survey is published today in Annals
of Internal Medicine.
Other recommendations in the policy paper include: