Gun Violence is a Public Health Issue

Position Statement.

On December 14, 2012 our town was traumatized by one of the worst mass murders in American history. In the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, over 100 doctors from Newtown, CT have united as a professional voice for our grieving town. Although our specialties differ, our goal is the same—to stop this national epidemic that has taken our children. We believe this is a major public health issue and can be successfully addressed as with other previous United States epidemics including tobacco, alcohol and motor vehicle safety.

We physicians, who have had ourselves, our families, our friends, our neighbors and our patients directly impacted by the shootings put forth the following recommendations:

I. Research
■To promote funding for research and education concerning firearm injury and death.
■To rescind the restriction on federal institutions (CDC, NIH, NIJ) pursuing research on violence prevention.
■To create a comprehensive national firearm injury database.

II. Mental Health
■ To promote immediate access to mental health services which is affordable, effective and supportive.
■ To enact reforms to reduce the risk encumbered by mental health providers in caring for mentally ill individuals at risk for violent behavior.
■•To encourage effective legislative measures for adjudicating disputes between patients’ right to refuse and their need for treatment.
■•To advocate for financial resources dedicated to mental health.

III. Culture of Violence
■To foster a comprehensive initiative to change societal norms that currently glorify guns and violence in the media and gaming.
■To promote health care providers’ ability to discuss patients’ exposure to firearms and violence.

IV. Firearms
■To require firearm safety including gun locks and safes.
■To support comprehensive, universal background checks for the purchase of firearms and ammunition.
■To prohibit the access of firearms and ammunition to high-risk individuals.
■To endorse legislation banning civilian access to assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips.

As members, we believe that all of the local, state and national medical organizations and elected officials should make this a top priority and should use their platform to promote awareness and enact real change to reverse this worsening epidemic.

If you agree with this statement, tell your elected officials to vote on bills supporting it. The NRA, gun and ammunition manufacturers and other gun advocacy associations are well organized and funded.

Don’t assume that you know how your representative will vote.


History of Gun Violence in America

Gun Violence in America

One of the worst feelings that emerges from horrible events like the mass murder at Connecticut’s Sandy Hook elementary school is the sense that we live in a country that has fundamentally lost the ability to protect itself and its most vulnerable citizens from gun violence.


Ironically and depressingly, sales of guns and ammunition has gone through the roof since the Sandy Hook tragedy, and production cannot keep up with demand. So the 300 million guns in personal hands in the U.S. are increasing for sure.

With the mass murders, it is the NRA that is most culpable. The NRA has been transformed from an organization primarily about gun safety to one taken over by gun zealots. The NRA protects the ability of virtually anyone to get their hands on guns, even the most powerful assault weapons like those used in recent killings. This is in stark contrast to the rest of the developed world. For the NRA, “freedom” is now defined as the ability to carry a concealed handgun virtually anyplace.

Like most realities in America where consumers and citizens are routinely victimized, the adage “follow the money” always rings true. The NRA for all intents and purposes is the advocacy arm for the booming gun and ammunition industry, where in turn, some of the top gunmaker companies are owned by Wall Street hedge funds.

There’s more:

How the Second Amendment Was Hijacked by Antonin Scalia and the NRA
By Steven Rosenfeld

Eleven years later in June 2008, Scalia was the lead author in a Supreme Court decision that arguably is the most audacious revision of constitutional doctrine so far in the 21st century — revealing that he was anything but an originalist. In District of Columbia v. Heller, by a five-to-four vote, the Court held that the Constitution’s Second Amendment includes the right of individuals to own a gun at home for self-defense.

Scalia is now [9] the longest-serving justice. He took office on September 26, 1986, the very day that Chief Justice Warren Burger [10], a conservative Nixon appointee also known for literal readings of the Constitution, stepped down after 17 years on the Court. But when it came to the Second Amendment, Burger was the originalist. And not long into his retirement, he became appalled that the National Rifle Association was touting an interpretation that didn’t exist in the Constitution—that Americans had gun rights as individuals.

The Second Amendment reads [11], “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

Burger became so upset about the NRA line—enshrined at the highest levels of American law by Scalia 13 years after Burger died—that the retired Chief Justice debunked it in a January 1990 article [12] in Parade magazine, distributed in Sunday newspapers nationally. He began by citing the latest facts, 9,000 murders by handguns nationwide, recounted American history and concluded with the Constitution’s Preamble [13], to “ensure domestic tranquility” allowed for new federal gun controls “if we are to stop this mindless homicidal carnage.” He said handguns should be regulated anew.

Burger, no liberal, went further. He told PBS [14] in late 1991 that the Second Amendment “has been the subject of one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word ‘fraud,’ on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.”

Read the entire article for an in depth analysis.