(Washington) The American College of Physicians (ACP) today told U.S. Senate majority leader Harry Reid it applauds his efforts "in introducing legislation to address needed reforms in the wake of the Newtown, CT tragedy." In a two-page letter signed, by ACP President David L. Bronson, MD, FACP, ACP urged that the Senate be allowed to vote on "The Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013 (S. 649), noting that it "represents a positive step forward in the debate on how best to reduce firearms-related deaths and injuries and we urge a vote on the measure in the full Senate."
The letter pointed out that ACP has proposed and advocated for policies to reduce deaths and injuries related to firearms and other forms of violence for more than 15 years. "Firearm violence is a serious public health issue," Dr. Bronson said. "As an organization representing physicians who have first-hand experience with the devastating impact on the health of their patients resulting from firearms-related injuries and deaths, we have a responsibility to be part of the solution in trying to mitigate firearms-related tragedies."
Dr. Bronson continued by pointing out how Sen. Reid's legislation is consistent with ACP's evidence-based policy. "We strongly support the provisions to improve the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) and require a background check for every firearm sale. For the NICS to be effective, all relevant records must be electronically available and added to the system in a timely manner. An estimated 40 percent of gun sales are made at gun shows and through private sales which do not require background checks. Closing this loophole by requiring a background check for every firearm sale is an essential step toward ensuring that firearms are kept out of the hands of those who are not supposed to possess them. We also support your measure that would provide harsher penalties for 'straw man' purchases of guns. These reasonable provisions, which are supported by an overwhelming majority of the public, will help reduce firearms-related injuries and deaths without infringing on Second Amendment rights. A March 13 poll by the Pew Research Center found that 83 percent of the public supports background checks for private and gun show sales of firearms."
Dr. Bronson also called on Congress "to ban assault-type weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines, eliminate restrictions on research on the causes of firearms-related violence, and improve access to mental health services."
The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization and the second-largest physician group in the United States. ACP members include 133,000 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 and Facebook.