The American Medical Association, Frustrated By Washington’s Lack Of Action On Gun Control, Issues Guidelines

Calling gun violence a "public health crisis," the AMA suggests an assault weapons ban, among other measures.

the american medical association has released gun control guidelines
Joel Auerbach / AP Images

Calling gun violence a "public health crisis," the AMA suggests an assault weapons ban, among other measures.

The American Medical Association, which has long since called gun violence a “public health crisis,” has issued a series of guidelines that it hopes lawmakers will have the courage to adopt, Yahoo News is reporting.

It’s been four months since the February 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida left 17 people dead. In those four months, gun control has entered the national conversation, spurred on in part by Parkland students David Hogg and Emma Gonzalez, among others, who have become national advocates for gun control. Nevertheless, for all of the talk about gun control, no meaningful action has been taken in Washington, and AMA doctor-members are frustrated, to put it mildly.

Association president Dr. David Barbe, concluding his one-year term at the AMA’s annual meeting, expressed that frustration.

“It has been frustrating that we have seen so little action from either state or federal legislators.”

It’s not just school shootings that have the American Medical Association concerned. Gun violence is a part of daily life on city streets. Women and children are at risk of being shot by their abusers. Children continue shooting themselves, and each other, after accidentally finding their parents’ guns. And suicide rates are up 30 percent since 1999.

Emergency medicine specialist Dr. Megan Ranney says she and her colleagues know all too well the realities of gun violence.

“We as physicians are the witnesses to the human toll of this disease.”

Meeting in Chicago this week, the 545 delegates adopted policies meant to curb gun violence. The AMA has no legislative power, of course, but as a lobbying group, and combined with the voices – and the votes – of its individual members, the Association hopes that these policies will soon become law. The policies include, but are not limited to:

  • Banning people under 21 from purchasing guns or ammunition.
  • Closing loopholes in the law that allow persons convicted of domestic violence and/or stalking to purchase guns.
  • A complete ban on assault weapons.
  • Universal firearm registration, and licensing and safety courses for gun owners.

It bears noting that the guidelines were not passed unanimously. The suggestion for an assault weapons ban, for example, had 99 votes against it, to 446 votes for it. It also bears noting that many AMA members are themselves doctors, including a Montana physician who said she learned to shoot guns in junior high school gym class.

Dr. Jim Hinsdale, a San Jose trauma surgeon, praised the policies but said there’s much more work to do.

“There’s a place to start and this should be it.”