by: Fernando Stein, MD, FAAP, President, American Academy of Pediatrics
"The American Academy of Pediatrics offers our deepest condolences to the victims and families who lost loved ones in the recent mass shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, and to the entire community as they grieve. These families and this community will need ongoing support, and our hearts go out to them during this time of tremendous and senseless loss.
"Childhood activities like attending church, school, or a concert, playing at home or playing in a park, should be routine parts of growing up, not the latest examples of where children were gunned down. Two of the five deadliest mass shootings in modern American history happened in the last 35 days. Every day on average, 93 people die from gun-related injuries in this country, including mass shootings, homicides, suicides and unintentional firearm injuries. Gun violence has taken root as an intractable, deadly epidemic in our nation.
"These are our children, grandchildren, neighbors, and friends. As pediatricians, these are the patients whose gunshot injuries we treat in emergency departments, and whose lingering stress, sadness and anxiety we help manage. These are families forever grieving, communities forever branded by one violent event, children forever the age they were when their lives were taken far too soon. It doesn't have to be this way.
"We cannot simply keep expressing outrage, grief and frustration and letting the latest body count fade into yesterday's news. We are not helpless. Like any epidemic, gun violence can be prevented. We know what works, we just need elected leaders to take action – immediately – to move forward with meaningful solutions to stop gun violence in its tracks. Expanding background checks, banning assault weapons, and bolstering mental health resources are just a few evidence-based, common sense measures that we must act on now.
"What should strike us about the tragedy in Sutherland Springs is that this could be any town in America. Gun violence is in everyone's hometown. This affects all of us, and it will take all of us acting together to make our country safer. We need leaders at every level of government to stand up and commit to protecting our communities, our families, and our children. It is not too soon to discuss meaningful, comprehensive public policies that will keep children safe from guns. For too many, it's already too late."
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 66,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org and follow us on Twitter @AmerAcadPeds.