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Vincent Iannelli, M.D.

Reducing Gun Violence

By January 16, 2013

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The American Academy of Pediatrics has long called for action to prevent gun violence. They successfully fought Florida Governor Rick Scott's efforts to keep pediatricians from being able to discuss gun safety with parents, they urge pediatricians to "to counsel parents about the dangers of allowing children and adolescents to have access to guns inside and outside the home," and have supported regulations that limits child access to firearms.

So it shouldn't be a surprise that the AAP supports President Obama's plan to reduce gun violence.

While many people thought the plan would be limited to things that might help to reduce mass shootings, I'm encouraged that the plan should also help to reduce accidental shootings and other types of gun violence.

I particularly like that the plan will:

  • Protect the rights of health care providers to talk to their patients about gun safety.
  • Launch a national responsible gun ownership campaign.
  • Review and enhance as warranted safety standards for gun locks and gun safes.
  • Encourage the development of innovative gun safety technology.

However you feel about the assault weapons ban or the requirement for background checks on all gun sales, other parts of the plan should be welcomed by parents, including the ideas to put up to 1,000 new school resource officers and school counselors on the job, help communities keep 15,000 cops on the street, direct the CDC to research the causes and prevention of gun violence, including links between video games, media images, and violence, and improve mental health services.

In response to President Obama's plan to reduce gun violence, Thomas K. McInerny, MD, FAAP, president, American Academy of Pediatrics stated that "Today, the President acted to protect children from the horrific consequences of gun violence and traumatic events, and to promote children's safety in their homes, schools and communities. Congress must show similar leadership and act promptly to develop and ensure passage of effective legislation and regulatory measures that will significantly reduce the senseless loss of young lives. The American Academy of Pediatrics and America's families are calling for change. Pediatricians stand ready to assist."

As you consider how you feel about the plan, keep in mind that each year, about 20,000 children and teens are shot and almost 3,000 die from gun violence, including murders, suicides, and accidents.

Consider that many parents are in a panic right now because of 20 flu deaths this flu season, but few people seem as concerned about the 15 deaths from gun violence just last week.

Now is certainly the time to work to reduce gun violence. Because if not now, when? After the next mass shooting?

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