Pharmacy, Public Health Associations Call for Action Against Gun Violence

AUGUST 07, 2019
Aislinn Antrim, Assistant Editor
Pharmacy and public health associations are encouraging actions to prevent gun-related injury and death, following the recent mass shootings in California, Texas, and Ohio.

At least 34 people were killed in mass shootings over the last 2 weeks, and the death toll may continue growing. Debates about how to respond have dominated the news cycle with various solutions proposed. Some have recommended "Red Flag" laws which would limit some people from obtaining firearms if they have a known mental illness. Others have proposed increased background checks or legislation banning assault weapons, and still others argue that firearms in the hands of law-abiding citizens will help protect people from those intending to cause harm or death.

Public statements from the American Public Health Association (APHA) and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) both call for legislative action.1,2

The APHA released its statement on Monday with an expression of mourning for the victims.1

"Even 1 mass shooting is too many, and we have seen more than 250 of them this year," APHA officials said in the statement.1 "The time for this to end is now."

The APHA statement urged lawmakers to consider legislation that can prevent gun violence, specifically the Bipartisan Background Checks Act that was passed by the House of Representatives earlier this year. The act requires background checks for all gun purchases, which many hope will keep firearms out of the hands of those who are legally prohibited from owning them.1

"We call on legislators in the Senate to immediately follow the lead of their colleagues in the House and pass these critical public health measures," APHA officials said in the organization's statement.1 "But we must go further."

They concluded by calling on Congress to reinstate the federal ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, which expired in 2004.1

ASHP published their statement on Tuesday, and it also expressed sadness over the loss of the victims.

"We thank all of the first responders who immediately put themselves in harm's way to protect and care for others, as well as all of the health care providers who treated and cared for the wounded," said ASHP CEO Paul W. Abramowitz in the statement.

During the ASHP Policy Week in September, the organization said, they are planning a special session with over 100 member leaders that will discuss additional roles that ASHP. and hospital and health-system pharmacists can play in preventing gun-related injuries and deaths.2

In addition to these organizations calling for action, there are several campaigns advocating on behalf of medical professionals against various forms of violence. Hospitals Against Violence is a campaign that ASHP said it supports.2 Run by the American Hospital Association (AHA), the Hospitals Against Violence Initiative works to establish best practices on violence prevention, with a specific emphasis on youth violence prevention.3

Brian Gragnolati, the 2019 AHA chairman, also released a statement on Monday, saying "When tragedy strikes, our role is clear: We are the caregivers who serve as beacons of hope in troubled times."3


References
  1. APHA mourns gun violence victims, calls for immediate action. American Public Health Association. https://www.apha.org/news-and-media/news-releases/apha-news-releases/2019/apha-mourns-gun-violence. Accessed August 7, 2019.
  2. ASHP Statement on Recent Shootings in Texas, Ohio, and California. ASHP. https://www.ashp.org/news/2019/08/06/ashp-statement-on-recent-shootings. Published August 6, 2019. Accessed August 7, 2019.
  3. Gragnolati B. Chairman's File: Supporting victims of mass violence: AHA News. American Hospital Association | AHA News. https://www.aha.org/news/chairpersons-file/2019-08-05-chairmans-file-supporting-victims-mass-violence. Published August 5, 2019. Accessed August 7, 2019.


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