Turning Frustration Into Positive Action

Written by Tobie Smith, MD, MPH and Sarah Kimball, MD, NPA Gun Violence Prevention Taskforce Co-Chairs
December 14th will mark the sad third anniversary of the Sandy Hook shootings. And the number of victims of gun violence continues to grow. As physicians, we are called to advocacy by the fact that our nation continues to tolerate a preventable public health crisis. This epidemic of gun violence is a failure of shameful magnitude.
And there is reason for hope. This month the New York Times devoted a front page opinion piece to the importance of gun violence prevention—a first front-page editorial from the Times in 95 years.
The voice of physicians matters on this issue. We know that public policies to reduce gun death should be determined in the same way we as physicians determine our treatments: through sound research and evidence-based practices. We know that federal research has driven policy to save lives from motor vehicle accidents, sudden infant death syndrome, lead poisoning, and countless other public health crises. We must embrace the quest for unbiased data that will better equip our policymakers to stop this epidemic of gun deaths. Our legislators should be fiercely protecting federal funding for this research. Our current research freeze is costing us far too much.
To commemorate and honor the thousands who have lost their lives to gun violence, we ask you to add your voice to the many physicians and community members who are calling for sensible gun violence prevention. This anniversary is an opportunity to tell your story of why you believe that gun violence prevention should be made a national priority. Speak to the media, write letters, and add your voice to the many who are calling for a drastic change in our how country thinks about gun violence.
We offer the following tools to help you craft your message:

  • Write an LTE to your local paper (see fact sheets below)
  • See how your own community is affected by gun violence – interactive map
  • Ask your department if you can give a grand rounds on gun violence prevention
    • NPA can help with slidesets and handouts; contact becky.martin@npalliance.net
  • Ask your patients if they have guns in the home, and remind them to keep their guns locked, unloaded and separate from ammunition
    • NPA Gun Violence Screening-Tool Pocket Cards for Physicians and Patient Education Handouts for Exam & Waiting Rooms
      Limited Free Resources – View & Order

It is time to take back our exam rooms and take the politics out of public health.