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In Wake of Florida School Shooting, ACP Reaffirms Calls for Policies to Reduce Injuries and Deaths from Firearms

Statement attributable to:
Jack Ende, MD, MACP
President, American College of Physicians

Washington, DC (February 15, 2018) — Yesterday’s mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida left 17 students and faculty dead and at least 14 injured. The American College of Physicians (ACP) expresses our sadness and sympathy for those killed and injured and we offer the Parkland community our support. We would also like to extend our gratitude to the physicians, first-responders, law enforcement officers, and others who helped the victims in this time of crisis. As our country deals with yet another shooting, ACP would like to express our growing frustration on the lack of action on firearms policy that is truly needed to protect Americans. 

Too often, physicians come face-to-face with the tragedy that gun violence brings, whether maliciously or unintentionally. It’s more important than ever that Congress and states implement common-sense policies that ban the sale of automatic and semiautomatic military-style “assault” weapons that are designed to kill as many people as possible, as quickly as possible—the weapon of choice in yesterday’s shooting and dozens of others in recent years. The skyrocketing rate of injuries and deaths related from firearms show that one thing is clear: lack of policy on firearms is the reason the U.S. remains a country with one of the highest rates of gun violence in the world.  

ACP has advocated for the need to address firearms-related injuries and deaths for more than 20 years, publishing a comprehensive set of recommendations in 2014. In 2015, ACP joined with the American College of Surgeons; American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Public Health Association, American Psychiatric Association; American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, and American College of Emergency Physicians, and the American Bar Association in a call to action to address gun violence as a serious threat to public health. The statement offered specific policy recommendations on addressing and preventing firearm-related violence including restrictions on sale of assault weapons, improving reporting laws, and closing gaps in background checks. This call to action was subsequently endorsed by another 52 organizations spanning clinician, consumer, families of gun violence victims, research, public health, and other health advocacy organizations.

Following the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida in June 2016, ACP urged Congress to pass legislation that would help keep Americans safe and healthy by reducing the threat of injury or death from firearms.

Additionally, the editors of the Annals of Internal Medicine, ACP’s flagship journal, are calling on physicians to make a commitment that “When risk factors for harm to my patients or others are present, I will ask my patients about firearm ownership and safety.” All gun-related content published in Annals of Internal Medicine is free to the public at http://annals.org/aim/pages/firearm-related-content.

It is time for all physicians and the many others who share ACP’s commitment to preventing avoidable injuries and deaths from firearms to join with us to call on our nation’s leaders to acknowledge the severe and often fatal consequences that come from gun violence and take immediate steps to prevent future gun violence incidents and ultimately, protect Americans across the country, including advocating for expanded background checks and improved access to mental health services while avoiding stigmatization of persons with mental and substance use disorders through blanket reporting laws.

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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 152,000 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 and Facebook.

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