The American Academy of Pediatrics will fund new research into preventing firearms injuries to children, aiming to find evidence-based solutions at a time when federal law blocks government research on gun violence.
Amid sustained public debate over gun violence since the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, last month—and as news broke of yet another shooting this week Great Mills, Maryland—the American Academy of Pediatrics is launching a new initiative to find ways to prevent children from being injured by firearms.
The project will have three components: a summit of experts that will analyze existing data, a research study, and the implementation of ensuing recommendations in both clinical and community settings.
“Approaching these injuries as a public health epidemic, the Gun Safety and Injury Prevention Research Initiative will bring together experts from around the country to study and implement evidence-based interventions,” AAP said in a news release announcing the plan.
AAP research could help fill a void created when Congress directed, in a 1996 appropriations bill, that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention could not use use its federal funding to “advocate or promote gun control.” The measure effectively neutered public health research into gun violence, even after President Barack Obama issued an executive order allowing such research to continue. While the CDC collects gun violence statistics, as it did last year for firearm injuries involving children, the agency avoids further analysis of the data.
AAP says it is responding to calls from members for more action on gun violence.
“On a daily basis, our members see firsthand the pain caused by firearms, whether by homicide, suicide, or unintentional injuries,” said Dr. Colleen A Kraft, AAP’s president, in the news release. “However, just like any other risk to children, a focus on prevention and education by pediatricians in clinical settings, coupled with strong public policy which reduces access to firearms, can have a measurable and lasting positive impact.”
AAP’s Friends of Children and Tomorrow’s Children Endowment funds will provide $500,000 in initial funding for the initiative, and the academy has pledged further fundraising to support it.