Below please find a summary of a new article that is published in Annals of Internal Medicine today. The summary is not intended to substitute for the full article as a source of information.
Physicians must advocate for common sense gun laws for good of public health
FREE content: https://www.acpjournals.org/doi/10.7326/M21-1505
A pointed editorial by Douglas DeLong, MD, Chief of the Division of General Internal Medicine at Bassett Healthcare in Cooperstown, NY, suggests that it's time for physicians to move past talking and start taking action to protect patients from gun violence and unintentional injury. Dr. DeLong says that in addition to educating patients and their families about firearm safety, physicians must also act locally to stand up against the NRA and advocate for common sense gun laws.
While mass shootings were down overall in 2020, any cause for celebration was short-lived. In March 2021, the U.S. experienced 2 mass shootings taking a total of 18 lives within the span of less than 1 week. The first shooting targeted women and Asian Americans. The motive for the second shooting is not yet known, but the usual "blah, blah, blah" of "thoughts and prayers" was the predictable response from both sides of the political divide.
Dr. DeLong says that now is the time to educate, advocate, and legislate. This means that physicians, given their respected role in society and obligation to promote individual and public health, need to both command their place in the lane (#thisisourlane) and to be at the head of the line with respect to efforts to reduce firearm injury. Dr. DeLong suggests writing letters to editors of local newspapers and to local politicians advocating sensible firearm policy. Physicians can also work with professional societies, such as the American College of Physicians (ACP), which has published several policy papers, position papers, and recommendations on firearm safety, to lobby at all levels for sane firearm injury prevention laws.
All firearm-related content is available for free at the Annals of Internal Medicine website. Physicians are invited to take a pledge to talk to their patients about firearm safety and gun ownership when risk factors for harm to their patients or the public are present https://acp1.survey.fm/commitment-to-help-reduce-firearm-related-injuries-deaths.
Media contacts: For a PDF of this editorial, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. To speak with the author, Douglas M. DeLong, MD, please contact Angela Blair at email@example.com or Gabrielle Argo at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Annals of Internal Medicine