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In Wake of Pittsburgh Shooting, ACP Reaffirms Policies to Reduce Injuries and Deaths from Firearms, Prevent Hate Crimes

Statement attributable to:
Ana María López, MD, MPH, MACP
President, American College of Physicians

Washington, DC (October 28, 2018) —The American College of Physicians (ACP) expresses our sadness and concern for those killed and injured in yesterday’s mass shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh. We are especially troubled by the setting of yesterday’s shooting; a house of worship, a place targeted specifically against those congregated in the building as a hate crime. Firearms violence and hate crimes—including those stemming from anti-Semistism—are both public health issues that physicians confront all too often. 

Physicians regularly come face-to-face with the tragedy that gun violence brings, whether maliciously or unintentionally. The rate of injuries and deaths related to firearms and the growing incidence of mass shootings brings to light, once again, the glaring lack of firearm policy in the U.S.—a country with one of the highest rates of gun violence in the world.  This most recent event makes it more important than ever that Congress and states implement common-sense policies that could prevent injuries and deaths from firearms.  

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 such as the one used in yesterday’s shooting, 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.

ACP has urged that hate crimes be recognized as a critical public health issue. Hate crimes exact a toll on the health of those directly victimized and on the health of the entire community. In a policy issued last year, ACP urged for policies of inclusion and non-discrimination, as well as, research into the impact of hate crimes on public health, the understanding and prevention hate crimes, and the interventions that address the needs of hate crime survivors and their communities.

It is time for physicians, and all who share ACP’s commitment to preventing avoidable deaths and injuries from firearms, and all who share our commitment to inclusion and non-discrimination, to come together to call for policies that can help prevent future tragedies. 

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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: Jackie Blaser, (202) 261-4572, jblaser@acponline.org