AMA: Gun Violence Is 'A Public Health Crisis'

| by Sarah Zimmerman
The 2013 AMA award ceremonyThe 2013 AMA award ceremony

On June 14, just two days after the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, the American Medical Association (AMA) has declared gun violence a "public health crisis" that needs to be formally addressed with research by the CDC.

"With approximately 30,000 men, women and children dying each year at the barrel of a gun in elementary schools, movie theaters, workplaces, houses of worship and on live television, the United States faces a public health crisis of gun violence," said AMA President Steven Stack in a statement, according to U.S. News & World Report.

NPR reports that the AMA plans to commit itself to lobbying Congress in order to overturn 20-year-old legislation that bans government-funded research on gun violence. The ban dates back to 1996, when the NRA lobbied Congress to block any sort of gun violence research that could possibly be interpreted as supporting gun control. In 2013, President Barack Obama lifted the ban through an executive order, but Congress continued to block funding for any CDC studies on the issue.

"It is possible for us to conduct firearm-related research [only] within the context of our efforts to address youth violence, domestic violence, sexual violence, and suicide," CDC spokeswoman Courtney Lenard wrote to the Washington Post in 2015, "but our resources are very limited."

The author of the 1996 legislation to block gun control research, then-Republican Rep. Jay Dickey, Arkansas, told NPR in October 2015 that his intention was not to prevent all research on gun control.

"[It] wasn't necessary that all research stop," he said. "It just couldn't be the collection of data so that they can advocate gun control. That's all we were talking about. But for some reason, [research] just stopped altogether."

While the NRA has yet to release a statement regarding the AMA's recent stance, U.S. News & World Report reports that in past interviews, the pro-gun rights organization has said doctors have no place in the conversation about gun ownership as they are not trained in gun safety.

According to NPR, in 2013, the AMA, which is the largest physicians group in the U.S., said that gun ownership without any sort of regulation is "a serious threat to public health" as "[guns] are one of the main causes of intentional and unintentional injuries and deaths."

Sources: NPR, The Washington Post, U.S. News World & Report / Photo Credit: Jay Baker via Maryland GovPics/Flickr

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