AMA backs common-sense measures to prevent gun injuries, deaths

Sara Berg
Senior Staff Writer
AMA Wire
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In a sweeping set of actions aimed at reducing the toll of U.S. firearm deaths and injuries, the AMA House of Delegates today backed gun-violence restraining orders, tougher background checks and better data collection, among other measures.

“People are dying of gun violence in our homes, churches, schools, on street corners and at public gatherings, and it’s important that lawmakers, policy leaders and advocates on all sides seek common ground to address this public health crisis,” said AMA Immediate Past President David O. Barbe, MD, MHA. “In emergency rooms across the country, the carnage of gun violence has become a too routine experience.

“Every day,” Dr. Barbe added, “physicians are treating suicide victims, victims of domestic partner violence, and men and women simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. It doesn’t have to be this way, and we urge lawmakers to act.”

This is not the first time the AMA has addressed the issue of firearm safety. For more than two decades, HOD—physicians convened from every state and most specialties across medicine—has recommended numerous policy solutions to address firearm safety.

These solutions range from common-sense gun safety protections, closing the gap in domestic violence restraining orders to include dating partners, and supporting research on gun buyback programs, . Importantly, the AMA has been pressing Congress and the administration to provide dedicated resources for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to advance research on gun violence.

The CDC says that more than 36,000 U.S. deaths a year involve firearms.

At the 2018 AMA Annual Meeting, delegates adopted policy for the AMA to support:

  • Establishing laws allowing family members, intimate partners, household members and law enforcement personnel to petition a court for the removal of a firearm when there is a high or imminent risk for violence.
  • Prohibiting persons who are under domestic violence restraining orders, convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence crimes or stalking from possessing or purchasing firearms.
  • Expanding domestic violence restraining orders to include dating partners.
  • Requiring states to have protocols or processes in place for requiring the removal of firearms by prohibited persons.
  • Requiring domestic violence restraining orders and gun violence restraining orders to be entered into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
  • Efforts to ensure the public is aware of the existence of laws that allow for the removal of firearms from high-risk individuals.

The delegates also modified existing policy to:

  • Recognize the role of firearms in suicides.
  • Encourage the development of curricula and training for physicians with a focus on suicide risk assessment and prevention as well as lethal means safety counseling.
  • Encourage physicians, as a part of their suicide prevention strategy, to discuss lethal means safety and work with families to reduce access to lethal means of suicide.

Newly adopted policy also means the AMA will:

  • Advocate for schools to remain gun-free zones except for school-sanctioned activities and professional law enforcement officials.
  • Oppose requirements or incentives of teachers to carry weapons.

Delegates also modified AMA policy on the restriction of assault weapons to support banning “the sale and ownership to the public of all assault-type weapons, bump stocks and related devices, high-capacity magazines, and armor piercing bullets.”

With the aim of improving firearm safety, the delegates also adopted policy that requires the licensing of owners of firearms including completion of a required gun safety course and registration of all firearms. .

The HOD, also adopted policy to support “the concept of gun buyback programs as well as research to determine the effectiveness of the programs in reducing firearm injuries and deaths.”

Lastly, delegates amended existing policy to:

  • Support banning the possession and use of firearms and ammunition by unsupervised youths under the age of 21.
  • Support banning the sales of firearms and ammunition from licensed and unlicensed dealers to those under the age of 21—excluding certain categories of individuals, such as military and law enforcement personnel.
  • Oppose “concealed carry reciprocity” federal legislation that would require all states to recognize concealed-carry firearm permits granted by other states and that would allow citizens with concealed gun carry permits in one state to carry guns across state lines into states that have  stricter laws.  

Read more news coverage from the 2018 AMA Annual Meeting in Chicago.

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Why is the AMA neglecting to do any FACT based research of the existing evidence? There is a much greater population health risk with medical errors and prescription drug deaths that continues to be a growing risk that the AMA should be focused on along with the opioid epidemic. Firearms violence as a population health issue has demonstrated a trend of DECREASING the number of firearms homicides in our nation to a extremely significant degree. Here are some ACTUAL FACTS from FBI data: In 1993 there were 18,253 firearms homicides and in 2016 there were 11,004 firearms homicides so a TOTAL of around 40% less firearms homicides than in 1993. However, that ignores the increase in population along with the increase in firearms along with the great expansion of concealed carry in the nation since then so we need to adjust our data to count for the rate per 100,000. Looking at the firearm homicide rate per 100,000 it was 7.02 in 1993 and in 2016 was 3.4 so a decrease of 51%l. The AMA also wants to call out for "assault weapons" bans when for as many years as FBI data has been tracked ALL rifles have been responsible for such a low level of homicides that they are not significant. In 2016 there were only 374 homicides with ALL types of rifle while knives killed 1,604, hands & feet killed 656 and blunt objects killed 472. You then further wish to infringe on the Constitutionally protected rights of U.S. citizens using age to remove the rights of 18-20 year olds. You wish to interfere with “concealed carry reciprocity” which targets a group of people more highly vetted than nearly any others in civilian life which research has demonstrated this group is among the most law abiding with lower rates of criminal activity than even law enforcement officers? This is most certainly a POLITICAL exercise and NOT a healthcare endeavor as the FACTS and any research done shows this to be pure political theatre. Many AMA members are supporters of our Constitutional civil rights and very opposed to most of these measures so you can expect to see membership decline. It is very sad the AMA has abandoned a SCIENCE based approach that demands research and data to support their positions and has devolved into nothing more than a propaganda arm using scare tactics based on lies while real population health crisis situations are much more in need of being focused on.
It takes courage to get involved in the firearms discussion in today's environment. I applaud all of you for having the courage and for communicating common measures.
First off, this report is all over the map as to consistency. Some policy items are bulleted, others are in paragraph form. New policy and amended/modified policy items are not grouped under those categories. This makes it difficult to follow the actual policy points the AMA stands for. (These comments from a former editor/reporter.) Kudos to user ssumrall for the excellent points and supporting research. Additional considerations are: If we can't trust people under 21 with guns, perhaps we shouldn't trust them with the vote. If they aren't "adults" until 21, they shouldn't be allowed to serve in the military. AND they shouldn't be tried as adults prior to that age. Gun buyback programs are not effective ( The research has already been done. "...access to lethal means of suicide." Really? As a Marine Brat (and Vietnam verteran), I was taught that EVERYTHING is a weapon. Humans are a pretty clever lot and they've found ways to hurt themselves with just about anything imaginable. Speaking of Marine Brat, I never had the urge to settle a score by loading a weapon and going after my adversary. Certainly never killing innocent bystanders as a way to make myself feel better. Guns laws will never work. Too many guns around and too many ways to obtain them. The AMA policies on identifying individuals who are high risk for violence against others or themselves is laudable and they should focus on those points. That is within their area of expertise. Gun law is not.
Has anyone else noted that when someone uses the term "common sense" it implies that if you disagree with the idea presented, then you lack "common sense?" Seems like the AMA has become insulting to those that disagree with them. Sadly, the AMA has lost focus on medicine and picked up the political banner to wave. Commenters above have explained how facts don't support the emphasis on the efforts. An organization that wants its patients to "comply" with their pronouncements surely would not want them armed as a responsible citizen might choose to do. Also suggested above, responsible citizens aged 18-20, unless law enforcement or military should be banned from the sale of ammunition. Yet, this group is deemed responsible enough to vote? No, either one is a citizen or one is not. I doubt the constitution defined different ages for protection by the constitution and, by extension, the bill of rights. Not doubt, I’m certain of it as I’ve read that document. Is the proposal to also limit the freedom of speech for those aged 18-20 or are we going to no longer define some speech as harmful? Will those aged 18-20 also be tried in juvenile courts as current data shows brain formation (in males) continues to about age 25? If one has an incompletely developed brain, should they not be considered an adult? Although the misleading and insulting title of the article suggests this proposal is just "common sense", it becomes easy to see the slippery slope that starts as one group starts to pick what another group can and cannot be allowed to do. Interesting how this knee-jerk ageism started with the actions of a single, distraught juvenile. One would think the adults perpetrating proposal this would have more maturity and be able to see that small detail.
Very disappointed in the AMA for attempting to limit the rights and liberties of the people it cares for. If they wish to decrease the gun violence issue then they should start with mental health. 50% of Americans will meet the criteria for a diagnosable mental health condition sometime in their lifetime, that's 162.5 million, and mental illness is on the rise, do we have the infrastructure to accommodate them? You should focus on the root cause of the issue which is mental health. Also, a Republican Congress will never allow this proposal and if Dems take over congress and this bill even gets close to being approved by the Senate panic buying will flood the market with these guns by epic proportions.
Dear AMA, Thank you for your completely uninformed, fascist suggestions. On behalf of the American people, I would kindly respond by telling you to piss off. In no way, shape, or form will we comply with any policy that intends to strip us of our fundamental right to self-preservation. If you have no interest in protecting yourself or your loved ones and would prefer to turn that responsibility over to people that have no vested interest in doing so, feel free. The rest of us will continue to live as free Americans with our rights intact, and we will meet any tyrannical opposition with appropriate force. Have a good day. -We the People
I could not agree with the AMA on this issue and the title of this article. Implying that one disagreeing lacks common sense. Makes me question why I am a member as they do not represent me the data or have common sense First of all AR-15 DOESN'T mean assault rifle it refers to arma light (sp?) It is a semiautomatic not automatic Arming teachers who want to be trained and being available to protect our children is common sense Reciprocity for concealed carry is common sense The AMA more and more is going left I believe weapons free zones amount to criminal protection zones.
Kudos to ama for taking on this topic. There are clearly a lot of people who only care about keeping their guns. We should not be discouraged from them and keep going forward on improving gun control. As physicians who interact directly with patients at risk we have a great opportunity to intervene.
Since we know there are far more lives saved through the defensive use of firearms each year than there are lives unjustifiably taken, some good first steps would be to eliminate gun-free zones, make concealed carry reciprocity federal, and eliminate waiting periods so those with an immediate need can get the protection they deserve. It's time we start doing the things we know will work instead of the things that feel good and advance a political agenda.
Dear AMA I am now completely confident as to why I am not a member of your organization. The paradox that professionals purporting to be "smart" enough to be doctors can think that removing weapons of destruction from the hands of law abiding citizens will somehow make the criminals obey the same laws they blatantly ignore is baffling. This illogical stance is shameful and obtuse. This country was founded on natural law which provided us with the 1st amendment, which is secured by the second amendment. If the facts were actually dissected as any scientist would do, you would find that most gun deaths are suicides, which will happen by another mean if there are no guns. Then there are justified defensive deaths, and then the unfortunate homicides, which are perpetrated by those who ignore the law anyway. The stance of the AMA over the last 20 years is shameful and a pitiful representation of the great physicians and patriots of this country. Its why less than 15% are members and most have come to ignore their dribble. Instead of stepping into political dung piles, why not figure out a way to get our health care system fixed with out government beaurocracy and over regulation? The ACA is abjectly worthless. Try getting a medicaid patient seen by private physicians. The stance of the AMA and their progressive leftist agenda just isolated them from the real world of medicine. I used to read JAMA because it was science. Then it became fire starter. Later, woodland hygeine paper. And now just wasted paper and digital memory. I see I am not alone by the other comments. Shame on you AMA.
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Oct 08, 2018
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