Backed by broad support from national and state doctor groups, the American Medical Association is launching a renewed push to curb gun violence and mobilize physicians to lobby Congress for legislation doctors say is long overdue.
The AMA’s policy-making House of Delegates Tuesday endorsed several gun control measures including renewed support for banning assault weapons and bump stocks and raising the legal age to 21 for purchasing firearms and munitions.
Capping a week of debate, the AMA’s new policies put the group’s considerable lobbying clout behind legislation heading into November’s mid-term elections when gun control is expected to be a key issue in the wake of school shootings across the country this year.
“Gun violence in America is a public health crisis,” AMA president Dr. David O. Barbe said in a speech to delegates earlier this week.
The AMA has been updating and adding measures to its gun control and public safety agenda for the last two years, but it apparently hasn’t been enough given no movement by the Republican-led Congress in Washington. Several measures were considered at this week’s AMA meeting in Chicago which members described “unprecedented.”
“In the two years that have passed, we have been horrified by yet more carnage: in Parkland, Sutherland Springs, Santa Fe and Las Vegas,” Barbe said. “And those are just a few of the incidents that made headlines. On average, violence claims the lives of nearly 100 people a day in the United States.”
Among the other measures the AMA said it now supports include:
- advocating for schools as gun-free zones
- removing firearms from high-risk individuals
- supporting increase in legal age of purchasing ammunition and firearms from 18 to 21
“In emergency rooms across the country, the carnage of gun violence has become a too routine experience,” AMA ‘s Barbe said Tuesday. “Every day, physicians are treating suicide victims, victims of domestic partner violence, and men and women simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. It doesn’t have to be this way, and we urge lawmakers to act.”
The AMA’s House of Delegates includes representation from most national specialty doctor groups as well as delegations from every U.S. state. Its moves are the latest in an increasing outcry from health professionals who see U.S. gun violence as a health epidemic.
Two years ago, seven of the largest health organizations, including the American College of Physicians, the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American College of Surgeons outlined an elaborate “call to action” with recommendations on how to curb gun violence. The groups said its recommendations are “constitutionally sound.”