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The ACS continues efforts to curb firearm deaths and injuries in the U.S.

The ACS continues efforts to curb firearm deaths and injuries in the U.S.

The leadership of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) was deeply saddened to learn of the two mass shootings in less than 24 hours, August 3−4 in El Paso, TX, and Dayton, OH. In response to these most recent tragedies, the ACS expresses its ongoing grave concerns about the death and destruction that these violent incidents continually inflict on innocent civilians. In addition to a now decades-long string of mass shootings, firearm violence continues to kill and seriously injure people in single-incident shootings every day in the U.S., particularly in our headquarters city of Chicago, IL.

Surgeons and trainees have lost patients, family members, and colleagues to firearm violence. As we remain on the front lines treating seriously injured patients who arrive in trauma centers across the U.S., the College remains steadfast in its commitment to addressing this public health epidemic by applying a consensus-based approach to solving this public health crisis. We have worked to identify a constructive, nonpartisan approach to this challenge, which includes partnering with professional organizations to develop injury prevention initiatives that seek to address the root causes of violence and make firearm ownership as safe as reasonably possible. (Read the article published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.) We have developed a Firearm Strategy Team to engage firearm owning surgeons in making recommendations for policy change and we have recently formed a team focused on addressing the social determinants of health which lead to structural violence in our communities (iSAVE). In addition, we have been addressing the problem of intimate partner violence on several fronts.

In February 2019, we convened a historic Medical Summit on Firearm Injury and Preventionat ACS headquarters to identify a consensus-based path forward that has been supported by more than 45 major medical and injury prevention organizations. Briefly summarized, actionable items that the summit attendees have agreed to address in a unified voice include the following:

  • Recognize firearm injury as a U.S. public health crisis, and take a comprehensive public health and medical approach to address it
  • Research this public health crisis using a disease model, and call for research funding at federal and philanthropic levels commensurate with the burden of the disease on society
  • Engage firearm owners and communities at risk as stakeholders to develop firearm injury programs
  • Empower the medical community across all health care settings to act in the best interests of their patients in a variety of palpable ways, such as counsel patients on safe firearm storage; screen patients at risk for firearm injury or death; and engage the community in addressing the social determinants of disease through hospitals and health care systems
  • Commit professional stakeholder organizations to ensure that these statements lead to constructive actions for improving the health and well-being of our nation

Read the Summit Proceedings for details.

The ACS has had a Statement on Firearm Injuries since 1993. Last revised in 2013, thecurrent statement lays out ACS support for initiatives that will ensure the safety of U.S. civilians and inform public health policy. The ACS remains wholly committed to these aforementioned actionable items achieved by consensus from the February Medical Summit on Firearm Injury and Prevention and the principles embodied in our formal Statement on Firearm Injuries.

Thank you for your ongoing support as we continue to constructively and strategically address this very serious problem in our nation.