Recent violent events have driven gun policy to the top of the President’s second-term agenda.
In an article being published early online in Annals of Internal Medicine, public health experts at the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research call for greater physician involvement in the current gun policy dialogue.
The authors cite grim statistics regarding gun violence and survival rates and conclude that greater emphasis needs to be placed on prevention.
Physicians are uniquely poised to be at the forefront of prevention efforts. The authors call for evidence-based, well-implemented and enforced policies that start with several strategies for physician engagement. As clinicians, physicians can assure that patients with mental health issues receive treatment that is documented during background checks should they try to purchase a gun. They also can talk with patients and colleagues about guns, discussing prevention and managing fear.
Recently, the President directed the CDC to conduct research into the causes and consequences of gun violence. With funding opening up for research, the authors predict a “robust and impactful research agenda to inform future gun violence prevention efforts.” Finally, as advocates and leaders, physicians can use their collective “raised voices” to influence Congress.
As the public is ultimately responsible for the state of the country, the authors note that there is now new interest in gun policy that may be helped along by physicians.
Annals of Internal Medicine, Feb. 12, 2013
American College of Physicians