Sunday, June 19, 2016

AMA calls gun violence public-health crisis, backs background checks, waiting periods, research

The American Medical Association Tuesday declared gun violence a public-health crisis and endorsed waiting periods an background checks for purchases of all firearms, not just handguns.

"The AMA, the country's largest doctor group, also vowed to lobby Congress to overturn a decades-old ban on gun violence research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention," two days after the Orlando shooting that left 49 dead and 53 wounded, reports Kimberly Leonard of U.S. News and World Report. "The AMA joins the American College of Physicians in its position, which has been calling gun violence an epidemic since 1995."

Dr. Steven Stack
AMA President Steven Stack, an emergency-room physician, said the research "is vital so physicians and other health providers, law enforcement and society at large may be able to prevent injury, death and other harms to society resulting from firearms. . . . With approximately 30,000 men, women and children dying each year at the barrel of a gun in elementary schools, movie theaters, workplaces, houses of worship and on live television, the United States faces a public-health crisis of gun violence."

Leonard notes, "Federal law doesn't technically outlaw the CDC from studying gun violence, but prohibits the agency from using federal dollars to advocate or promote gun control. Though President Barack Obama lifted the research ban through executive order nearly three years ago, Congress has blocked funding for these studies."

The National Rifle Association has called the public-health approach a back-door path to more gun control, Leonard writes, and "has said that doctors shouldn't be asking patients about gun ownership because they are not gun safety experts."

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