By: Moira Szilagyi, MD, PhD, FAAP, president, American Academy of Pediatrics
“Gun violence is the leading cause of death for children and teens, and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has long been advocating for meaningful policy change to keep children safe from guns, including recently sharing more than 300 pediatricians’ stories with the U.S. Senate. We are encouraged by the progress unveiled in the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which represents a significant step forward, but the work is far from over.
“Pediatricians have long been advocating for federal policies that will keep children, families and communities safe. This bill would help work toward that goal by encouraging state red flag laws, improving background checks, and limiting instantaneous sales of assault weapons to 18–20-year-olds.
“The bill also includes funding to expand mental health services for children and adolescents in communities and schools, and funds and reauthorizes the AAP-championed Pediatric Mental Health Care Access program. This program improves mental health access by supporting primary care pediatricians with telehealth consultation by child mental health provider teams, enhancing their capacity to screen, treat, and refer children with mental health concerns.
“Too many past efforts to pass federal gun violence prevention legislation have failed. We owe it to our children to make this time the exception. Pediatricians are urging members of Congress to work across the aisle to finalize and pass a legislative package to address gun violence. Children’s lives are counting on it.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 67,000 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