Physicians know that gun violence is a public health issue. An informal poll of NPA members revealed that we know, on average, forty people personally affected by gun violence. FORTY lives: patients we encounter during training and in practice, neighbors, friends, and loved ones.
Physicians live at the crossroads of gun violence both in that we both care for victims and play a critical role in preventing gun violence through anticipatory guidance. The NPA has had success working to re-frame gun violence as a public health issue in the public debate, notably through media outreach and the release of a white paper in partnership with the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence – yes, lawyers and doctors working together.
The NPA has recently expanded the organization’s commitment to this critical issue through the formation of a Gun Violence Prevention Taskforce and Fellowship. Spanning eleven states and the District of Columbia, the seventeen members of the Taskforce bring medical specialty expertise ranging from Anesthesiology to Emergency Medicine to Primary Care to Psychiatry. Upcoming work will include colleague and policy-maker engagement, patient and community education, and policy development. The Fellowship welcomes eight physicians and two medical students and includes specialists in Emergency Medicine, Family Medicine, and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Bringing experiences from the vantage point of their respective medical specialties, the vision for these new initiatives is to address gun violence as a public health issue thereby reducing preventable injury and death.
As we hear in the news every day and see most directly in our own practices, gun violence affects the lives of our patients and our colleagues. Please join us in our work to bring public health solutions to this destructive problem.