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Healthcare Leaders Demand Action on Gun Violence in Wake of Tulsa Shooting

Analysis  |  By Amanda Schiavo  
   June 02, 2022

Four people were killed when a man opened fire on the St. Francis Health System campus in Tulsa.

The American Hospital Association has called for bipartisan legislators to take swift action to address the mass shootings currently plaguing the United States. The latest in a string of these events took place on the second floor of the Natalie Medical Building on the St. Francis Health System campus in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Wednesday.

Four people were killed when a man opened fire in the building with an AR-15-style weapon that he had acquired that same day. The gunman was reportedly looking for a doctor at the hospital who had recently performed surgery on him to treat his back pain.

Two doctors, a patient, and a receptionist were killed in the attack. Reports also say the gunman died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

"Yesterday was another unfortunate example of gun violence in our country," Rick Pollack, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association, said in a statement addressing the shooting. "This latest incident was in a medical facility, a place of healing, on the campus of Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa. We grieve with the victims and their families, as well as the entire Saint Francis Health System team, as they mourn the loss of four members of their community. This further reinforces the need for action to be taken to stop these tragic events. Legislators are working on a bipartisan effort to address gun violence, and we urge them to act quickly. "

The CEO of the Federation of American Hospitals, Chip Kahn, also released a statement commenting on the Tulsa shooting, urging the government to make substantial changes to U.S. gun laws.

"Enough is enough. This must stop. Hospitals are pillars of our communities—the places people rush to when they need help, they shouldn’t be crime scenes, " Kahn said. "Patients and caregivers deserve to feel safe and secure when they enter our nation’s medical centers. It is mission-critical for Congress to act now. We hope the bipartisan negotiations happening on Capitol Hill will result in legislation that will have a real impact on the scourge of gun violence."

The American Medical Association is also demanding critical action be taken to stem the increasing flow of gun violence in the U.S.

"As we have said repeatedly since declaring gun violence a public health crisis in 2016, gun violence is out of control in the United States, and, without real-world, common-sense federal actions, it will not abate, " AMA president, Gerald Harmon, MD, said in the statement. "The House Judiciary Committee is taking an important first step today by considering the Protecting Our Kids Act, and we urge Members to approve life-saving measures and policies endorsed by the very physicians tasked with caring for victims of gun violence. In a letter to the chairman and ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, the AMA highlighted specific, common-sense measures in H.R. 7910, the Protecting Our Kids Act, the AMA supports to curb gun violence."

Last week the AMA released a statement regarding a separate mass shooting in the U.S. On May 25, 2022, the organization had previously asked lawmakers to address this prevalent issue, after 19 children and a teacher were killed in a mass shooting at a Texas elementary school.

"The shooting yesterday at an elementary school is horrific and sadly—and unacceptably—all too familiar in the United States," Harmon said in that statement. "A week after Buffalo, 10 years after Sandy Hook, 23 years after Columbine; the places and cities change, but the story is the same—too-easy access to firearms, inaction on wildly popular, common-sense safety measures like background checks, and countless lives lost or changed forever. " 

There have been 233 mass shootings in the U.S. in 2022, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive.

"As physicians, our mission is to heal and to maintain health," Harmon continued. "But too often the wounds we see in America today resemble the wounds I’ve seen in war. More and more it is clear no place is safe—malls, schools, movie theaters, places of worship, and grocery stores have all been targeted. Firearm injuries and deaths are preventable. And while the ideal time to act and find common-sense solutions and common ground might have been years ago, the best we can do now is act today. We call on lawmakers, leaders, and advocates to say enough is enough. No more Americans should die of firearm violence. No more people should lose loved ones. "

Amanda Schiavo is the Finance Editor for HealthLeaders.

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