As doctors, nurses, paramedics, medical students, and healthcare providers in the United States, we are committed to protecting our patients' physical and mental health and wellbeing. Every day, we use data obtained through rigorous scientific research to counsel our patients about how they can best protect themselves and their families from medical risk. As we bear witness to the devastation of firearms, we cannot remain silent about the significant danger that gun violence poses to our patients.
As guardians of health and wellbeing, the medical community has a responsibility to address gun violence. This responsibility knows no political barrier. Unfortunately, after landmark research showed that the presence of firearms increases the risk of both homicide and suicide death in the home, political divisions limited funding for this subject. This limitation continues to impair our ability to develop the knowledge necessary to advise our patients. (1,2)
SAFE is naming gun violence for what it is - a health threat of epidemic proportion - in order to rally the medical community to fight for the interests of our patients. It is time for us to bring the same urgency and dedication to the task of eliminating gun violence as we have to exposing other health risks, such as cigarette smoking. Gun violence threatens personal and public health. Through research, education, and support of evidence- backed policy, we can determine how best to arm our patients with facts and information that allow them to make the most informed decisions surrounding firearms.
(1) Kellermann, Arthur L., et al. "Gun ownership as a risk factor for homicide in the home." New England Journal of Medicine329.15 (1993): 1084-1091.
(2) Brent, David A., et al. "The presence and accessibility of firearms in the homes of adolescent suicides." Jama 266.21 (1991): 2989-2995.