Two weeks ago, the Senate voted down a measure that would have expanded background checks for Americans purchasing firearms at gun shows or online — despite the fact that background checks are extremely popular among the American public. Victims of gun violence, including the families who lost children in the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary at the end of last year, have sharply criticized the lawmakers who opposed the measure. Now, those Senators have gained another group of critics: over 100 pediatricians.
On Tuesday, members of the members of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) — which represents about 60,000 pediatricians across the country — will travel to Capitol Hill to push for policy solutions to gun violence, which they point out is one of the top causes of death among children. According to the Hill, about 110 pediatricians from 40 different states will meet with congressional staff to advocate for better gun control policies:
The group will advocate for stronger background checks, an assault weapons ban, and federal research on gun violence prevention.
“Gun violence is a public health issue that profoundly affects children,” the AAP wrote in a policy memo.
“Firearm injuries are one of the top three causes of death among youth, and studies show that strong gun laws help significantly reduce injuries, suicides and homicides.”
For the past several decades, medical professionals have been particularly invested in lifting the current ban on public health research into gun violence issues. Back in the 1990s, the NRA and its allies stripped funding for the Centers for Disease Control’s gun research programs. That move has seriously hampered public health efforts to reduce gun violence, which costs the United States an estimated annual $2 billion in medical treatment. But calling for other specific types of gun legislation is somewhat of a departure for pediatricians.
Undoubtedly, gun tragedies in the United States — particularly in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre — have certainly had a big impact on the nation’s youth. Sales of bulletproof backpacks and military-style vests for children have soared in the wake of the Newtown shootings, as parents are increasingly worried about their children’s safety in school. And the issue extends beyond gunmen who go on mass shooting sprees. Accidental shootings perpetrated by toddlers who stumbled across their older relatives’ weapons killed at least four people in just one weekend this month alone.