ACP gets on board to reduce firearm harm

United States Senate majority leader Harry Reid’s efforts to impose firearm reforms in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school shooting tragedy have recently garnered more doctoral support from the expansive ranks of the American College of Physicians (ACP).

According to a letter sent by organization head David L. Bronson, MD, FACP, president, on behalf of the ACP, the Senate should be allowed to vote on The Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013 (S. 649) legislation put forth by Reid, as 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.”

“Firearm violence is a serious public health issue,” Bronson added. “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.”

As the ACP is no stranger to policy advocating for reduced deaths and injuries related to firearms, Bronson highlighted the compatibility inherent in Reid’s vision and the organization’s more than 15-year-old goal: “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.”

The ACP and Bronson also heralded a congressional need “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.”

Find the full April 5 letter here.