The sale of semi-automatic magazine-fed rifles, their booster accessories, and high volume ammunition, should be strictly regulated, to halt the "senseless" firearms violence that plagues the United States, say trauma surgeons in their manifesto for curbing gun injury, published online in the journal Trauma Surgery & Acute Care Open.
The American Association for the Surgery of Trauma (AAST) Board of Managers recognises that firearm ownership is a constitutionally protected right in the US, but insists that steps must be taken by the federal government and professional bodies to protect the nation from the physical and psychological harms associated with firearm violence.
Trauma is the leading cause of death for Americans up to the age of 45. Gun injuries account for more than 38,000 deaths and at least 85,000 non-fatal injuries every year in the US, affecting "countless families and communities," says the AAST executive.
"As trauma surgeons, we see and abhor this pain and suffering on a daily basis," it says.
"The root of the problem is a complex interaction of firearm access, behavioral health, and a culture tolerant of aggression," all of which adds up to "an unacceptable public health problem."
Research, innovation, technology and cooperation are needed to systematically tackle this crisis in much the same way that these approaches have successfully driven down car crash deaths by 27 percent over the past 20 years, it says.
To that end, the AAST has produced a manifesto containing 14 recommendations for all branches of government and professional organizations to adopt "in an attempt to stem the tide of deaths from firearm violence and support safe firearm ownership."
- Strengthening the criminal record checks system
- Applying these checks to all firearm sales
- Standardising the waiting period between gun purchase and delivery
- Promoting responsible firearm ownership with safety training
- Strict regulation of the sale of semi automatics, booster accessories, such as trigger activators, and high volume ammunition
- Reporting all firearm sales to the appropriate agency
- Obliging gun owners to report lost or stolen weapons to the police
- Removing firearms from those accused of domestic violence and those threatening violence until such time as their cases have been heard/issues resolved
"We think it is imperative that we work together to make our population safe from injury due to firearm violence. These actions, while not definitive, are a start towards a safer, stronger, and more united America," says the AAST.
Peer reviewed? No
Type of evidence: Opinion