The American Public Health Association expressed its strong support for action to “protect our nation’s children and their families from the growing epidemic of gun violence” in a letter sent today to President Barack Obama.
“Gun violence is one of the leading causes of preventable death in our country and we must take a comprehensive public health approach to addressing this growing crisis,” wrote APHA Executive Director Georges Benjamin, MD. “For too long, we as a nation have failed to take on this devastating problem in our communities, and we can wait no longer.”
Benjamin strongly supported the president’s leadership in “developing a comprehensive public health approach to reducing gun violence in our nation,” and outlined several key steps as part of such a plan, including:
· adopting common sense gun control legislation such as reinstating the federal ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and closing the “gun show loophole,” which exempts private sellers of firearms from conducting criminal background checks on buyers at gun shows;
· expanding the collection and analysis of data related to gun violence and other violent deaths to better understand the causes and allow authorities to develop appropriate interventions to prevent such violence; and
· ensuring adequate funding for critical mental health services, and ensuring that the Affordable Care Act provides comprehensive coverage for mental health and substance abuse disorder services as part of the law’s essential health benefits.
“We join you in expressing our deepest sympathies to the families of the victims and the entire community of Newtown and pledge our support to work with your administration and leaders in Congress to pass legislation to better protect all of our nation’s children, families and communities from senseless acts of violence, and to ensure that all Americans have access to the critical mental health services they need,” Benjamin wrote.