The Newtown tragedy is moving the public and policymakers to focus on America's high-rate of firearm violence. With the leadership and guidance from the Expert Panels on Violence, and Psychiatric/Mental Health/Substance Abuse, the American Academy of Nursing sent a letter to Senator Dianne Feinstein endorsing her legislation to re-establish an assault weapons ban. It is the Academy's hope that such a ban will mitigate any future mass shootings. However, this ban does not go far enough, and it may not stop the estimated 30,000 firearm-related deaths each year.
As health care professionals and advocates, it is our duty to not only save lives but also to prevent harm. With strong leadership and a willing nation, we can reduce firearm violence.
Along with a ban on large capacity ammunition magazines and assault weapons, the Academy asks policymakers to support the follow recommendations:
Creating a universal system for background checks designed to highlight an applicant's history of dangerousness and require that all purchasers of firearms complete a background check.
Strengthening laws so that high-risk individuals, including those with emergency, temporary, or permanent protective or restraining orders or those with convictions for family violence, domestic violence, and/or stalking, are prohibited from purchasing firearms.
Banning the future sale, importation, manufacture, or transfer of assault weapons and incorporating a more carefully crafted definition of the term “semiautomatic assault weapon” to reduce the risk that the law can be evaded.
Banning the future sale, importation, manufacture, or transfer of large capacity (greater than 10 rounds) ammunition magazines.
Ensuring that health care professionals are unencumbered and fully permitted to fulfill their role in preventing firearm injuries by health screening, patient counseling, and referral to mental health services for those with high-risk danger behaviors.
Focusing federal restrictions on gun purchase for persons on the dangerousness of the individual and fully funding federal incentives for states to provide information about dangerous histories to the National Instant Check System for gun buyers.
Supporting enriched training of health care professionals to assume a greater role in preventing firearm injuries by health screening.
Researching the causes of and solutions to firearm violence.
© 2013 Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.