Leadership

American Medical Association Gets Tougher on Gun Control

During its annual meeting this week, the American Medical Association laid out a variety of positions on issues related to topics that have been prominent in the news. High on the agenda were two takes on gun violence that were particularly newsworthy, considering the deadly shootings in Orlando over the weekend.

During its annual meeting this week, the American Medical Association laid out a series of positions on issues that have been prominent in the news. High on the agenda were two stands on gun violence that were particularly timely, considering the deadly shootings in Orlando over the weekend.

The American Medical Association’s annual meeting was in the works long before two shootings in Orlando brought discussion of gun control back to the public sphere.

But two votes taken by the AMA at its meeting this week are particularly relevant to the headlines of the past few days.

On Wednesday, the AMA House of Delegates voted to expand the association’s gun-control policy to support waiting periods and background checks for purchasers of all firearms (the policy previously addressed only handguns). A day earlier, AMA announced it will actively lobby Congress to change the law to allow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to research gun violence, something the CDC has long been prohibited from doing.

“With approximately 30,000 men, women, and children dying each year at the barrel of a gun in elementary schools, movie theaters, workplaces, houses of worship, and on live television, the United States faces a public health crisis of gun violence,” outgoing AMA President Steven J. Stack, M.D., said in a media release on Tuesday.

The lobbying vote is significant, as AMA advocacy could have a significant impact on the issue. According to OpenSecrets, the association spent $19,650,000 on lobbying in 2014, nearly six times the $3,360,000 that the National Rifle Association spent over the same period. (The NRA, however, does significantly more outside spending during political campaigns.)

Stack emphasized that “epidemiological analysis of gun violence is vital” so that physicians and other medical professionals, police officers, and citizens can prevent injuries and deaths caused by firearms.

In a separate vote, the House of Delegates approved the stronger policy position on gun control.

“Mass killers have used AR-15s, rifles, and handguns, and today we strengthened our policy on background checks and waiting periods to cover them all, with the goal of keeping lethal weapons out of the hands of dangerous people,” Stack said in a statement released Wednesday.

The House of Delegates had a full agenda at the meeting, adopting a spate of policy positions on a wide array of issues currently in the news, including the Zika virus, lead contamination in drinking water, opioid abuse, and paid sick leave.

(iStock/Thinkstock)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. MORE

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