June 03, 2022
Over the past month, a series of tragic and senseless mass shootings have, once again, ripped communities and families apart, destroyed and ended lives far too soon, and further exposed the epidemic of gun violence that grips our nation. The latest attack hit very close to home, when a man opened fire in a medical office building on the campus of Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa, Okla., killing four people—including two physicians—and injuring several others before taking his own life.
“The physicians of California stand in solidarity with our health care colleagues in Oklahoma and send not just our deepest condolences, but our outrage that such senseless acts of violence continue to plague our nation,” said California Medical Association (CMA) President Robert E. Wailes, M.D. "As healers, physicians are often on the front lines of gun violence, but the latest shooting in Oklahoma targeted physicians in a space that should be devoted to peace and healing. This cannot stand. CMA calls for reform to end this terrible epidemic of gun violence.”
The Tulsa hospital shooting comes just eight days after 19 school children and two teachers were slaughtered in Uvalde, Texas, and two weeks after a white supremacist attack in a Buffalo, New York, supermarket that killed 10 people and an attack at a church in California where one of our own—John Cheng, M.D.—took heroic measures to stop another act of senseless gun violence, and in the process gave his life to save others.
“We cannot become numb to the nearly daily reports of gun violence and mass shootings. We cannot sit idly by and do nothing while more than 45,000 Americans die each year by gunfire,” said Dr. Wailes. “This is a uniquely American public health crisis. We must come together with a united front and call for meaningful action to save lives.”
Since 1975, more Americans have died from firearms than in all the wars in U.S. history going back to the American Revolution. Gun violence is a public health crisis, and as with other public health areas, evidence-based interventions are needed for reducing deaths and injuries.
CMA has long-standing policy recommendations for reducing firearm-related trauma, injury, and death. With gun violence soaring, it is imperative for Congress to act now.
“CMA declared gun violence a public health crisis in 2016 and physicians will continue to demand action to end this senseless epidemic of indiscriminate violence, whether in our schools, our health facilities or our streets,” said Dr. Wailes.
What You Can Do
As physicians, our mission is to heal and to maintain health. Physicians are in a unique position to assess risk, provide education and change behaviors related to firearm violence. In 2017, the CMA Firearm Violence Prevention Technical Advisory Committee, composed of physician experts, performed a comprehensive review and analysis of CMA policy, epidemiological data and current scientific research and developed a CMA position statement on the prevention of firearm violence.
“Physicians have a responsibility as trusted public health figures to respond to the harms associated with firearm violence, both as individual clinicians and as community advocates,” says Dr. Wailes. “I ask my fellow physicians to make a commitment to ask your patients about firearms when appropriate and follow through with support and resources to keep them safe. We can make a difference, one patient at a time.”
In 2019, California Assembly Bill 521 authorized three years of funding for the California Firearm Violence Research Center at UC Davis. Building on the prior work of the UC Davis What You Can Do Initiative, the BulletPoints Project gives clinicians the knowledge and tools they need to reduce the risk of firearm injury and death in their patients.
Visit BulletPointsProject.org for more information on what you can do, as physicians, to help stop gun violence.