We represent those who spend every day safeguarding the lives and the health of people across the nation in demanding that gun violence be addressed as a public health emergency. This is a crisis of epidemic proportions, as Americans viscerally know – in places featured in headlines such as in Gilroy or Virginia Beach, and also in neighborhoods that don’t make the news but who suffer the thousands of firearm-inflicted suicides and other violent deaths and injuries. If the Senate chooses not to go back to work, taking a month-long vacation instead of taking IMMEDIATE action to save American lives, how many more will be dead or injured when they return?
We call on the Senate to IMMEDIATELY return to Washington
to address gun violence through three steps:
- Debate the gun violence reduction bills sitting in front of the Senate. HRs 8 and 1112, already passed by the House, will make background checks near-universal and close loopholes that allow those with violent histories to access guns. Expanded background checks are a necessary step with near-unanimous public support.
- Provide dedicated funding to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and other federal agencies directed specifically to support gun violence research. With funding, these agencies can help us uncover causes and warning signs for gun violence; determine which laws, regulations, and technologies have been effective; and figure out how to care for those affected. Funding has already passed the House – the Senate must act.
- Consider a national Extreme Risk Protection Order (“red flag”) law allowing the temporary confiscation of guns (with due process) from those who are at acute risk for harming themselves or others. These laws have saved lives in states that have passed them.
Beyond these common sense steps, we also propose that our nation and Congress implement a much broader initiative to collectively address all of the different forms of gun violence using a comprehensive public health approach. One unique idea is to establish a National Bureau for Gun Safety. In 1966, faced with rapidly rising motor vehicle-related injuries and deaths on our roads, we created the National Highway Safety Bureau. The Bureau addressed auto deaths systematically by promoting and implementing safety technology and practices such as seat belt use as well as by supporting research into causes and contributing factors. This approach has been credited with reducing motor vehicle mortality by two-thirds over the subsequent thirty years. An analogous National Bureau for Gun Safety can use the best evidence and expertise to reduce firearm violence.
We call on all Americans to join us and our patients. Help policy makers think dutifully and act creatively to safeguard public health, and hold them accountable in implementing common sense strategies to heal America’s collective gaping wounds from gun violence. Join us to take steps away from absolutism and division toward courage, toward reducing gun violence, toward stopping this carnage, toward caring for our patients, toward bringing America together.
What actions will you take TODAY?
- Call (202) 224-3121 (1-877-960-2185) or text “MITCH” to 90975: tell your Senators to act now to #EndGunViolence. (You can use the toolkit in #3 below as a guide.)
- Click here to read the call to action from our colleagues across medicine and public health
- Click here to learn more about the issues and how you can help today with this toolkit.
- Join Doctors for America to take effective, direct action to address gun violence.