A funny thing happened at the doctor’s office

A funny thing happened yesterday during my annual physical.

The physician was excited to share something she’s very proud of: a policy statement on “Firearm-Related Injury and Death in the United States: A Call to Action from 8 Health Professional Organizations and the American Bar Association“. Click HERE to read the entire text.

It begins with an Abstract that reads, in part, “Deaths and injuries related to firearms constitute a major public health problem in the United States.

The document provides findings and recommendations based on the separate policies of the 7 health professional societies that represent most physicians in the United States – American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Emergency Physicians, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American College of Physicians, American College of Surgeons, and American Psychiatric Association and the American Bar Association.

She noted how rarely doctors and lawyers join together on public policy positions, let alone an issue as contentious as this one. This was a victory of common sense among doctors and lawyers.She was pleased that her medical society is part of this Call to Action.

“The specific recommendations include universal background checks on gun purchases, elimination of physician ‘gag laws’, restricting the manufacturing and sale of military-style assault weapons and large capacity magazines for civilian use, and research to support strategies for reducing firearm-related injuries and deaths. … The American Bar Association through its Standing Committee on Gun Violence, confirms that none of these recommendations conflicts with the Second Amendment or the rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Across the United States, physicians have first-hand experience with the effects of firearm injuries and deaths and the impact of such events on their patients and families. Many physicians and other health professionals recognize that this is not just a criminal violence issue but also a public health problem.”

This year’s annual physical enlightened more than the state of my health. Like clergy, physicians hear stories that confidentiality keeps between sealed lips, but the doctors know the sorrow from the inside out in ways to which most do not have access. Congratulations for speaking out to frame the questions in terms of public health.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, October 27, 2015

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