The following revised Statement on Firearm Injuries was approved in January 2013 by the Officers of the American College of Surgeons and its Board of Regents. Deborah Kuhls, M.D., FACS, FCCM, a Platteville native, chairs the ACS Committee on Trauma’s Injury Prevention Committee that wrote most of this statement.
Because violence inflicted by guns continues to be a daily event in the United States and mass casualties involving firearms threaten the health and safety of the public, the American College of Surgeons supports:
• Legislation banning civilian access to assault weapons, large ammunition clips, and munitions designed for military and law enforcement agencies.
• Enhancing mandatory background checks for the purchase of firearms to include gun shows and auctions.
• Ensuring that health care professionals can fulfill their role in preventing firearm injuries by health screening, patient counseling, and referral to mental health services for those with behavioral medical conditions.
• Developing and promoting proactive programs directed at improving safe gun storage and the teaching of non-violent conflict resolution for a culture that often glorifies guns and violence in media and gaming.
• Evidence-based research on firearm injury and the creation of a national firearm injury database to inform federal health policy.
Leaders of eight national health professional organizations and the American Bar Association also support:
• Improved access to mental health care and caution against broadly including all persons with any mental or substance use disorder in a category of persons prohibited from purchasing firearms.
• The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health, and National Institute of Justice should receive adequate funding to study the effect of gun violence and unintentional gun-related injury on public health and safety. Access to data should not be restricted, so researchers can do studies that enable the development of evidence-based policies to reduce the rate of firearm injuries and deaths in this nation.
The ABA has confirmed that these recommendations are constitutionally sound. For 50 years, the ABA has acknowledged the tragic consequences of firearm-related injury and death in our society and expressed strong support for meaningful reforms to the nation’s gun laws, as well as for other measures designed to reduce gun violence that do not fall under Second Amendment scrutiny.