Thursday, April 17, 2014

Firearm Violence is a Public Health Threat, Experts Call for Stricter Gun Laws

From: Headlines and Global News

A new policy paper written by the American College of Physicians (ACP) identified nine strategies to help the government address health, societal care, and regulatory barriers to reduce the cases of firearm-related violence. 

Experts recommend including firearm safety when discussing public health and doing background checks to ensure that criminals and mentally-disabled people are not issued with guns.

"Patients have long trusted their physicians to advise them on issues that affect their health," president of ACP, Molly Cooke, MD, FACP, said in a press release. "Physicians can play a critical role in educating the public on the risks of firearm ownership and the need for firearm safety through their encounters with their patients. ACP strongly believes the patient-physician relationship should be protected from laws that prevent physicians from initiating a discussion about guns."

The recommendations made by the ACP were based on the data gathered about the impacts of firearms, state and federal laws, mental health, and initiatives to reduce firearms violence. The report was also backed up by an interview of a panel of internists from across the United States. Eighty percent of these internists believe that firearm safety is an issue that should be included in public health discussions and 76 percent called for stricter gun control laws. Majority of them also believed that there is a need for wider background checks and the registration of all firearms, including the accessories.

In addition, the researchers also suggest creation of proper legislation that will cover firearm acquisition and registration, gun safety design, gun victim protection, restriction to civilians, and more research related to firearm-related violence.

Further details of this study can be read in the April 11 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine.

The United States has the largest gun ownership rate in the world with 89 out of 100 people having guns. There are also approximately 270 million civilian firearms in the country.