Washington, DC—Beginning last evening and extending to early this morning, more than 35 members of the United States Senate filibustered an appropriations bill in order to bring two amendments to a vote early next week. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) offered an amendment expanding background checks on all gun purchases, as well as an amendment to make it more difficult for individuals being monitored for terrorism activity to purchase firearms. The amendments are based on legislation introduced previously by Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). These proposals reflect American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) policy and represent meaningful progress in the advancement of gun safety legislation that protects children.
"Following the recent horrific mass shooting in Orlando, we grieve for the victims, we stand in solidarity with members of the LGBT community who far too often are targets of violence and discrimination, but we also recognize that these actions alone are not enough. We must take this opportunity, as our country reels from the deadliest mass shooting in its history, to push for common-sense gun safety policies that will make our children and our country safer," said AAP President Benard P. Dreyer, MD, FAAP. "Efforts underway in the Senate to expand background checks and to prevent suspected terrorists from purchasing guns are a step in the right direction, and pediatricians urge Congress to pass these proposals as soon as they can."
In 2014, there were 2,549 children under age 19 who were killed by guns, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For two decades, the AAP has supported gun violence prevention through research, education and advocacy. The amendments introduced by Sen. Murphy expanding background checks on all gun purchases and making it more difficult for individuals being monitored for terrorism activity to purchase firearms both support the AAP's evidence-based policy on preventing firearm injuries and fatalities. The AAP's gun violence prevention priorities for the federal government are:
- Stronger gun laws. Enactment of common-sense firearm legislation, including stronger background checks, banning assault weapons, addressing firearm trafficking, and encouraging safe firearm storage.
- Violence prevention programs. Support for programs addressing the needs of at-risk children and children exposed to violence, including those at CDC and the Department of Justice.
- Research. Funding for gun violence prevention research and public health surveillance, including $10 million to support gun violence prevention research at CDC, and expanding the National Violent Death Reporting System to all 50 states.
- Physician counseling. Protecting the crucial role of physicians in providing anticipatory guidance to patients about the health hazards of firearms.
- Mental health access. Ensuring children and their families have access to appropriate mental health services, particularly to address the effects of exposure to violence.
"Gun violence rips communities apart. Gun violence shakes our sense of safety and disrupts our daily lives, but it does not temper our resolve," said Karen Remley, MD, MBA, MPH, FAAP, AAP Executive Director/CEO. "Pediatricians urge our elected leaders—along with those running for office this year—to prevent gun violence by supporting meaningful and comprehensive public policies that keep children safe. We will continue speaking up, for the victims of gun violence and their families, for the children we care for, and for our community, until we see real progress."
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 64,000 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.