This article discusses a call to action to participate in the gun violence debate by the Annals of Internal Medicine which occured after the Sandy Hook Shootings. However, this is not the first time such a request has taken place. Back in 1998 the American College of Physician’s labeled Gun Violence as a public health issue, and one which required an active role by Physician to address. While it is rational that physicians would play a part in teaching about gun use and violence, other groups of physicians and other health organizations have not seemed to follow suite since the 1998 statement. For example
“only one professional medical organization, the American Academy of Pediatrics, has established a policy to reduce gun access and injuries in children, by recommending that pediatricians counsel parents of children as young as 6 months old. Last year, a federal judge overturned a Florida law that would have prevented pediatricians from doing just that.”
In addition, to limited interest and laws blocking involvement, research funding to provide evidence based proof that such roles could reduce gun violence has also been reduced, suggested in part due to NRA’s grassroots fight.
According to the article gun violence today accounts for over 300,000 deaths a year in the United States, or approximately 1 in 5 injury deaths (over 96% of which are suicide or homicide by gun). This is something that needs to be addressed by all professionals and luckily some physician researchers and professionals are thinking of ways to get around these blockages, for example by calling for “more studies on how to identify people at risk for violence, which mental health conditions play a role and under which circumstances. This could then help shape future policies on reducing gun violence”.
As social workers where do we stand:
Working closely with physician’s in many environments and roles is it appropriate for us to stand behind the Annals of Internal Medicine and the American College of Physicians’ requests that our doctors play more of an active role in gun education and the gun violence debate?
Or is that not their role and function? Would that hinder a patient-physician relationship by discussing such a taboo and ‘political’ topic?
SJS wants to hear what you think.
Written By Georgianna Reilly, LMSW
SJS Staff Writer
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