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Internists Reaffirm Urgent Need for Policies to Prevent Firearm Violence and Hate Crimes in Light of Recent Mass Shootings

Statement attributable to:
Jacqueline W. Fincher, MD, MACP
President, American College of Physicians

Washington, D.C. March 25, 2021 – The American College of Physicians (ACP) expresses our sadness and sympathy for those killed and injured in recent mass shootings in Atlanta and Boulder. 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. It is disheartening to once again be facing the tragedy that firearms-related violence brings to our communities. ACP believes that something can, and must, be done about it.

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. In 2020 our country saw more deaths from firearms than any other year in the past two decades. The recent shootings in Atlanta are particularly disturbing since they combine the tragedy of firearm-related deaths with violence that was directed at Asian individuals. Firearms violence and hate crimes are both public health issues that physicians confront all too often.

ACP has advocated for the need to address firearm-related injuries and deaths for more than 20 years.  In 2018, ACP updated our comprehensive firearms policy paper, Reducing Firearm-Related Injuries and Deaths in the U.S., which offers support for laws to improve background checks and policies that would reduce gun violence-related deaths. ACP strongly supports efforts in Congress to combat firearm violence, including the Background Check Expansion Act which recently passed in the House of Representatives. We call on the Senate to also pass this important legislation. ACP also continues to call for policies that would ban the sale of assault weapons, we communicated our support for this and other proposed firearm legislation in a recent statement sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

ACP recognizes the extreme, negative public health consequences that hate crimes have on individuals and our communities. We have called for public officials to recognize the public health impact, including most recently in a series of papers published in January on Understanding and Addressing Disparities and Discrimination in Health Care. Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, ACP has called attention to the issue of harassment of and violence against individuals of Asian descent. We also strongly support the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which provides dedicated resources to address and prevent hate crimes, violence, and anti-Asian sentiment related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is time for 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 these needless 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 163,000 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: Taneishia Bundy, (202) 261-4523, tbundy@acponline.org