By Genevieve Lewis
On June 12th, the worst mass shooting in American history occurred at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, killing 49 people and injuring another 53.
In light of this recent tragedy, the American Medical Association (AMA) declared gun violence a “public health crisis.” The president of the AMA, Dr. Steven J. Stack, spoke of the newly adopted policy saying, “with approximately 30,000 men, women and children dying each year at the barrel of a gun in elementary schools, movie theaters, workplaces, houses of worship and on live television, the United States faces a public health crisis of gun violence.” The AMA is subsequently urging congress to overturn the 20 year legislation that prohibits the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from researching gun related crimes. The research will enable both the government and the people of the United States to have well-informed debates, instead of the emotionally charged and ill-informed debates currently taking place.
Though the policy on gun control may be new, the stance the AMA is taking is not; the AMA has had a strong position on gun control, including the licensing of guns, since the late 1980s. The organization has numerous long-standing policies that aim to increase firearm safety, and decrease firearm violence. Now, the AMA is pushing for stricter enforcement of both federal and state gun safety legislation, along with mandated penalties regarding gun violence.
Following the statement, the AMA hit a wall of resistance from Republicans in Congress who near-unanimously expressed apprehension about changing the policy on gun research.
In response to the Republican backlash, Dr. Alice Chen, the executive director of Doctors for America said, “the strength of the AMA’s vast membership, plus that of the 100+ medical and public health groups across the country, will be hard for Congress to ignore.”