Guns’r bad, ‘mkay?

Gun arm.

Image credits Kerttu / Pixabay.

U.S. doctors are fed up with the country’s gun epidemic. At the American Medical Association’s annual policymaking meeting in Chicago, earlier this week, they voted overwhelmingly in favor of more gun control and other measures designed to reduce gun violence.

Less pew-pew, please

“We as physicians are the witnesses to the human toll of this disease,” Dr. Megan Ranney, an emergency-medicine specialist at Brown University, said at the meeting.

The AMA, the largest physicians group in the U.S., voted in favor for blanket support in favor of assault weapon bans and against arming teachers. They also voted to support:

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  • Laws requiring licensing, safety training for gun owners, and firearm registration.
  • Laws preventing people under 21 years of age from buying firearms or ammunition.
  • The right of relatives to obtain court orders to remove guns from imminently-violent or suicidal persons.
  • The elimination of loopholes allowing people with a history of domestic violence or stalking to buy and own firearms.
  • Better training for doctors to help them recognize patients at risk of committing suicide.

The unprecedented support for gun control measures comes amid a streak of school shootings, high rates of gun violence in U.S. cities, and rising rates of suicide — with guns accounting for roughly 49% of cases in the last category, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The association’s policy body voted 446 to 99 in support of these measures, according to the New York Times.

“Is this really what we need?,” I hear an AR-15 totting patriot ask. “Does gun control really work?” Yes, Billy, it does. There’s a huge body of literature already published that links more thorough gun control laws to fewer gun-induced deaths — both homicides and suicides — fewer cases of domestic shootings, and lower rates of accidental infant mortality by firearm (which is astonishingly high). The U.S. currently sees more than 11 times the rate of mass shooting events than any other developed country, according to a 2014 study published in the International Journal of Criminal Justice Sciences. And no, arming teachers flat-out doesn’t work.

While the effort is primarily aimed at legislators, AMA puts a lot of faith in the public. They hope people like you and me will pick up the message and demand that our representatives step up and make the changes we need. AMA members are already frustrated because they’ve seen “so little action from either state or federal legislators” up to now, says Dr. David Barbe, the former AMA president.

The American Medical Association, while being the largest single physician group in the U.S., still represents under a quarter of the nation’s doctors (243,000 registered members in 2017). Their decisions do have weight in the eyes of policy-makers and the medical sector at large — but if you want to see change for the better in regards to gun control, your best bet is to add your voice to that of AMA.