More than 350 pediatricians from around the country will be in Washington, D.C. today meeting with members of Congress and lobbying in favor of stronger legislation concerning firearms. The AAP has been outspoken on gun violence for a long time, Maggie Fox says, and the timing for action might be right, with the Parkland, FL school shooting still fresh in lawmaker’s minds:
They’re supporting a proposed assault weapons ban sponsored by senate Democrats and a bipartisan Senate bill that would restrict the sale of semiautomatic weapons to people 21 and older.
The pediatricians are also asking for Congress to provide $50 million to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to promote public health research into firearm safety and injury prevention:
[Dr. Ben] Hoffman said lawmakers should sponsor research into the best ways to prevent gun violence and gun accidents and then act on what the research shows — whether that means limits on gun ownership, or something else. “We are in a country where kids and guns are going to coexist,” Hoffman said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been restricted from performing or paying for gun violence research by federal legislation called the Dickey Amendment, which has language that CDC scientists interpret as meaning they had better stay away from the subject.
Hoffman says that’s a mistake. “We need to acknowledge that it is a public health problem,” he said.
“The amazing scientists at the CDC are looking for the best available evidence,” he added. “Their mission is to protect Americans from threats to their health.”
The AAP has another “ask” — this time for pediatricians:
The Academy urges pediatricians to ask about guns in the home.
“Ask about the presence of firearms in the home, and counsel parents who do keep guns to store them unloaded in a locked case, with the ammunition locked separately,” it advises its members.
“While the safest home for children is one without a gun, safe storage practices can significantly reduce the risk of gun injury or death.”
Fixing gun violence is not an either/or proposition. Instead of strengthening gun laws or improving mental health access and services, both will need to be done. And there will be other actions necessary to solve the problem, too, such as severely restricting the purchase and use of “guns of war,” limiting the size of high-capacity magazines, and promoting a nationwide advertising campaign on steps gun owners can take to keep their firearms secure and children safe. As distasteful as the idea is of placing metal detectors at the doors of our schools, that might also be part of the solution. Everyone will have to give a little to get a little — and hopefully a lot more than that.
“One way or another, this darkness got to give.”