On December 14, 2012 our town was traumatized by one of the worst mass murders in American history. In the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, over 100 doctors from Newtown, CT have united as a professional voice for our grieving town. Although our specialties differ, our goal is the same—to stop this national epidemic that has taken our children. We believe this is a major public health issue and can be successfully addressed as with other previous United States epidemics including tobacco, alcohol and motor vehicle safety.
We physicians, who have had ourselves, our families, our friends, our neighbors and our patients directly impacted by the shootings put forth the following recommendations:
- To promote funding for research and education concerning firearm injury and death.
- To rescind the restriction on federal institutions (CDC, NIH, NIJ) pursuing research on violence prevention.
- To create a comprehensive national firearm injury database.
II. Mental Health
- To promote immediate access to mental health services which is affordable, effective and supportive.
- To enact reforms to reduce the risk encumbered by mental health providers in caring for mentally ill individuals at risk for violent behavior.
- To encourage effective legislative measures for adjudicating disputes between patients’ right to refuse and their need for treatment.
- To advocate for financial resources dedicated to mental health.
III. Culture of Violence
- To foster a comprehensive initiative to change societal norms that currently glorify guns and violence in the media and gaming.
- To promote health care providers’ ability to discuss patients’ exposure to firearms and violence.
- To require firearm safety including gun locks and safes.
- To support comprehensive, universal background checks for the purchase of firearms and ammunition.
- To prohibit the access of firearms and ammunition to high-risk individuals.
- To endorse legislation banning civilian access to assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips.
As members, we believe that all of the local, state and national medical organizations and elected officials should make this a top priority and should use their platform to promote awareness and enact real change to reverse this worsening epidemic.