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Docs Back Biden's 'Ghost Guns,' 'Red Flag' Initiatives

Analysis  |  By John Commins  
   April 09, 2021

AMA president applauds the initiatives announced this week but calls them 'just a first step.'

President Joseph R. Biden's proposals to require serial numbers and background checks for "ghost guns" and model legislation for "red flag" laws that identify potentially dangerous gun owners are getting healthy reviews from physicians.

Susan R. Bailey, MD, president of the American Medical Association, applauded the administration for its "bold action" on a "public health crisis" that claims more than 40,000 lives each year, but stressed that the proposals "are just a first step."

"People die every day—and almost every place—in our country from firearm-related injuries. Movie theaters, grocery stores, places of worship, and elementary school classrooms have all been scenes of violence," Bailey said in prepared remarks. "Most of these deaths are preventable, and now is the time for lawmakers, policy leaders and advocates on all sides to seek common ground and save lives."

The AMA in 2016 declared firearm-related violence a public health crisis and one of the leading causes of intentional and unintentional injuries and deaths in the United States.

Biden on Thursday rolled out the initiative, which comes in the wake or shootings in Georgia and Colorado that have claimed 18 lives. The president called the nation's gun violence epidemic "a national embarrassment,"

He also conceded that his options to address the problem through executive authority are limited and that more aggressive action to curb gun violence would require action from Congress.

"We’ve got a long way to go — it seems like we always have a long way to go,” Mr. Biden said during an appearance in the Rose Garden, The New York Times reported.

Jacqueline W. Fincher, MD, president of the American College of Physicians, said the initiatives put forward this week by Biden "are consistent with the types of recommendations that ACP put forward in our 2018 policy paper Reducing Firearm-Related Injuries and Deaths in the U.S."

"In the past year, even as the US has been fighting a global pandemic, injuries and deaths from firearms increased more than any other year in the past two decades," Fincher said. "Advocating for policies, like those announced today, to reduce the toll of these injuries and deaths is in the medical profession’s lane—this is our lane —as is any issue the causes harm to our patients and could be prevented by sound public policy."

Fincher called on Congress to step up and advance other gun control measures, including universal background checks on firearms sales and a ban on assault weapons.

"Deaths and injuries from firearms are avoidable and preventable," Fincher said. "Changing the laws that surround the purchase and use of guns, in ways that are fully consistent with the second amendment, is something that must be done in order to end this crisis that America is facing."

“Most of these deaths are preventable, and now is the time for lawmakers, policy leaders and advocates on all sides to seek common ground and save lives.”

John Commins is a content specialist and online news editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.


KEY TAKEAWAYS

Jacqueline W. Fincher, MD, president of the American College of Physicians, said the initiatives put forward this week by Biden "are consistent with the types of recommendations that ACP put forward in our 2018 policy paper Reducing Firearm-Related Injuries and Deaths in the U.S."

Susan R. Bailey, MD, president of the American Medical Association, applauded the administration for its "bold action" on a "public health crisis" that claims more than 40,000 lives each year, but stressed that the proposals "are just a first step."


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