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Doctors call for urgent action against gun violence

anti gun violence signs

On May 24, 19 children and two adults were killed after a mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. This devastation came nearly a decade after the Sandy Hook shooting that left 20 children and 6 adults dead. Now doctors are urgently calling for more action to be taken.  

In a Sermo poll of 430+ global physicians, 86% agreed with the American Medical Association that gun violence is a public health crisis. Seventy-nine percent believe that sharing stories of the trauma they see in the emergency room and beyond could spur public policy. 

In regards to gun reform, 95% of Sermo physicians believe background checks should be mandatory for purchasing a gun.  

Ninety-three percent believe it’s unacceptable that the number of ‘active shooter’ attacks increased more than 50 percent in 2021 from the previous year. 

The Washington Post reported, “’We thought after Sandy Hook, that after you saw elementary school children massacred just like what you saw [yesterday], the country would do something,’ said Bob Doherty, a senior vice president emeritus at the American College of Physicians. ‘We couldn’t even get a modest step to close some of the loopholes in our background check system.’  

In recent years, a growing number of physicians have mobilized to lobby for tighter restrictions on guns, believing that telling stories of the trauma they see in the emergency room and beyond would spur public policy. In 2016, the largest doctors group — the American Medical Association — officially called gun violence a ‘public health crisis.’  

But congressional efforts to change gun policies in any significant way have failed time and time again, despite lawmakers occasionally renewing their gun-control efforts in the days after a mass shooting, The Post’s Ashley Parker, Tyler Pager and Colby Itkowitz report.  

Hours after the Uvalde school shooting, President Biden urged Congress to end the “carnage” of violence, raising his voice as he asked, “When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby?”  

Just over a week ago, a gunman killed 10 people at a supermarket in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Buffalo, while in California, a shooter killed one person and wounded five others in a Taiwanese church congregation.  

In 2021, the number of ‘active shooter’ attacks increased more than 50 percent from the previous year, according to an FBI report released this week.  

Some doctors’ groups, like the American College of Physicians, have been pushing for action on gun violence for decades. But in 2018, doctor groups substantially upped their public engagement on the issue.  

Physicians formed a social media movement, #ThisIsOurLane, after the National Rifle Association chided doctors for engaging in advocacy. Democrats embraced having doctors on their side, believing they brought a certain credibility to the issue and had clout with Republicans.” 

Eighty-seven percent of Sermo physicians believe it is appropriate for physicians to engage in advocacy against issues such as gun violence. 

Below, Sermo physicians from around the world share more of their professional insights, perspectives, and opinions on this important topic—in their own words: 

“South Africa has an even higher homicide rate than the USA at 36 per 100,000. The government there is trying to ban firearms, while the citizens are buying up guns as fast as they can get them, due to the rising rate of murders, rapes, and other violent crimes.”

Allergy & Immunology, U.S. 

“Sigh. A patient just killed his Orthopedic Surgeon in Tulsa, along with others and then himself. Drug seekers are Bad News. I don’t carry; don’t believe in it. But we need to be careful.”

Internal Medicine, U.S. 

“It is not “gun violence” … the term should be “people violence.” Firearms, of a variety of type, have been around a long time. The number of people using firearms to commit crimes, murder, etc is relatively recent. Why did this happen? What changed? When that question is answered, the problem can be effectively addressed. I am a physician now, but many years ago trained to be a high school teacher. During the 1980’s or so, educators, theologian,s psychologists, etc all warned that young kids exposed to violence, wanton disregard for life, etc would lead to violence, a callous disregard for life and others. They warned that kicking theology, morality, philosophy out of schools and other human interactions would lead to the same. They were all mocked and laughed at, especially by those great social sages residing in “Hollywood.” Is anyone laughing at them now?”


“All of us who are health workers, who fight for the well-being and health of people. As an ethical, human principle, we must reject all methods, whether firearms or bladed weapons that are used to harm the health of others, be in the first line of combat against all kinds of violence and more so when it encompasses the most vulnerable sectors of the population, raise your voice vigorously denouncing all these acts and in particular I am in favor of greater control of the possession of weapons in the population, if possible eliminate it completely.”

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, El Salvador 

“Pediatric societies are in mourning today for the massacre, the death of innocents is unacceptable. These events have already been several in the US for some years. There should already be policies against the sale of weapons, without verifying the psychological profile, in fact there should be no sale of weapons, only to qualified personnel. My condolences to the family for such an irreparable loss. NO TO THE SALE OF WEAPONS. NO TO CRIME.”

Pediatrics, Venezuela

“In my opinion, the United States must take measures with the possession of weapons, it is essential that the shootings cease where the most affected are children and young people, weapons should not be sold that were not for the controlled hunting of animals, why sell assault rifles or conventionally used weapons for war?”

Ophthalmology, U.S. 

“18 year old young (with psychiatric problem ) man goes to a shop and buys two machine guns. In Europe this is unthinkable.”

G.P., Poland 

“I can imagine all those children asking for their lives. So many grieving families. It is a real massacre. innocent children. Teacher who did her job. They really didn’t deserve to die. As long as anyone can have a weapon in their possession as if nothing happened, these events will unfortunately continue to repeat themselves. Until when!!!”

G.P., Cuba 

“Mandatory checks before being given permission to purchase and own a gun should be a no-brainer. The news reports that investigators say that the 18-year-old suspect in the most recent school shooting had a handgun, an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle and high-capacity magazines. Why would an 18 year old need or be able to get hold of a semi-automatic rifle? This is madness. In the UK we just cannot understand why still nothing is being done to restrict the purchase of firearms to try and prevent tragedies like this from occurring.”

Urology, U.K. 

“Here are some issues to ponder: 1. Why are HIGH CAPACITY magazines allowed?? 2. In gun shows, why isn’t the presence of ATF agents mandated for the purchase of ALL firearms–both handguns and long guns (with registration & clearance required on site)?? 3. What is preventing the government from raising the background check cost to a minimum of $250 and expanding the depth of historical information. 4. While it has been approached by President Biden—what will the penalty be for possessing a “ghost gun” (i.e. no serial number) 5. How about raising the bar for ANYONE carrying an unauthorized firearm—like life sentence without parole?? 6. Does anyone ever consider that HIPAA may be aiding and abetting these massacres by not allowing access to mental health records??  If some of these areas are not addressed, the unfortunate outcome is that legal carriers of firearms will be sequestered and felons will procure firearms ILLEGALLY. The situation is a mirror image of drug traffic—the heroin/fentanyl epidemic is rampant and all they seem to offer is greater distribution of Narcan!! This is a VERY slippery slope, fellow Sermoans, be careful where you cast your sentiments.” —Dermatology, U.S. 

Dermatology, U.S.

“Is this different than the maniac that drove his car in to a crowd at Christmas time? Should healthcare societies campaign to outlaw vehicles? What about drunk driving? The medical community would be serving society much more by addressing mental health issues of their patients and holding politicians accountable for their lack of funding to these services rather than punish the millions of law-abiding citizens with arbitrary rules and laws that protect no one.”

Family Medicine, U.S.

“After the Port Arthur massacre in Tasmania, our then Prime Minister changed gun laws, had a national amnesty and buy back, and outlawed high powered guns. We haven’t had a mass shooting since. I think there is the ‘right to bear arms’ in the US constitution which won’t change things. Not sure why anyone needs such high powered rifles.”

Pediatrics, Australia 

Everyday thousands of Sermo member physicians from diverse backgrounds and experiences exchange knowledge with each other. Sermo is the original medical social network that empowers today’s physicians. Over 1 million fully verified physicians across more than 150 countries come to our platform to talk with peers, participate in paid medical studies, solve challenging patient cases, contribute to the world’s largest database of drug ratings – and enjoy a few laughs along the way.  

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