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Federal Policies to Keep Children Safe

AAP's Recommendations to Congress and the White House

Since the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. that took the lives of twenty students and six educators, the Academy has been engaged in a thoughtful, organization-wide response and call to action to assure the future safety and protection of our nation’s children.

Academy leadership and staff are working closely with partner organizations to raise the voice of the nation's pediatricians on Capitol Hill and among state legislatures to ensure that appropriate legislation is developed to promote children's safety.

Specifically, the Academy is advocating to Congress and the Adminisration the following priorities (for a comprehensive overview, read this summary ):

  • Firearm safety: Enact stronger gun laws, including an effective assault weapons ban; mandatory background checks on all firearm purchases; and a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines.
  • Prevention and public health: Allow federal agencies to conduct research on the causes and prevention of gun violence, and stand by the President's clarification that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors from asking their patients about guns in the home. 
  • Access to mental health services: Improve the identification of mental illnesses through increased screening, addressing inadequate insurance coverage and high out-of-pocket costs that create barriers to access, strengthening the overall quality of mental health access, and expanding the Medicaid reimbursement policy to include mental health and developmental services.
  • Reducing gun violence in the media and educating children: Develop quality, violence-free programming and constructive dialogue among child health and education advocates, the Federal Communications Commission, and the television and motion picture industries, as well as toy, video game, and other software manufactures and designers, to reduce the romanticization of guns in the popular media as a means of resolving conflict.

Below are additional resources oulining the Academy's position and the President's recommendations:

  • A comprehensive summary of AAP's recommendations as outlined above
  • AAP testimony for the record to the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rightsat a hearing on Stand Your Ground Laws
  • AAP-organized letter from a coalition of health professional, public health, and child advocacy groups to Congressional appropriators on the importance of funding gun violence prevention research.
  • AAP-organized letter from pediatric organizations to Congressional appropriators on the importance of funding gun violence prevention research.
  • A one-page fact sheet outlining AAP’s current gun violence prevention priorities.
  • A press statement expressing disappointment in the Senate's failure to pass gun safety legislation
  • A letter from AAP and 21 public health and advocacy organizations urging the Senate to pass strong gun safety legislation
  • White House website on the President's 23 executive order recommendations and priorities for Congress
  • AAP's endorsement letter and press release supporting Sen. Dianne Feinstein's (D-Calif.) assault weapons ban
  • AAP endorsement letters for companion House and Senate bills to address mental health in schools
  • AAP’s practice guide, Bright Futures, which urges pediatricians to counsel parents about gun safety
  • Letter from AAP and 13 pediatric organizations to Vice President Biden in support of policies to protect children from gun violence and to allow federal funding for gun safety research
  • Thank you letter from AAP to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services following the participation of AAP President Thomas K. McInerny, MD, FAAP, in a Task Force on Gun Violence Prevention meeting in Washington, DC
  • Letter and press statement from Dr. McInerny to President Obama expressing the Academy's support for advancing meaningful federal action to protect children in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy
  • AAP policy statements on firearm safety, media violence, and mental health
  • AAP online resource page: "How Pediatricians Can Advocates for Children’s Safety in Their Communities”
  • resource page, including information on how to talk to children about disastrous events