AMA adopts policies to help curb the public health crisis of firearm violence

June 27, 2023

The American Medical Association (AMA) House of Delegates — the association’s policy-making body — adopted a number of new policies to address the public health crisis of firearm violence.

The policies adopted by the AMA House of Delegates include:

Strengthening Background Checks and Preventing Sales of Multiple Firearms to Same Purchaser Within Five Days

Under this new policy, AMA will advocate for federal and state policies that prevent inheriting, gifting, or transferring ownership of firearms without adhering to all federal and state requirements for background checks, waiting periods, and licensure requirements. AMA will also advocate for federal and state policies to prevent the sale of multiple firearms to the same purchaser within five business days and to implement background checks for ammunition purchases.

“As mass shootings in the U.S. continue at an alarming rate, it is critical that we further strengthen policies aimed at preventing firearm violence. No individual should be able to purchase an arsenal of firearms in a short period of time or buy ammunition without a background check.” said AMA Immediate Past President, San Francisco dermatologist Jack Resneck Jr., M.D. “We will continue to advocate for laws and policies that reduce the risk of firearm violence and keep our communities safe.”

Supporting Medical Professionals in Utilizing Extreme Risk Protection Orders to Prevent Firearm Violence Among High-risk Patients

Currently, more than 20 states have enacted extreme risk protection order (ERPO) laws that allow law enforcement, family or household members, and/or intimate partners to petition the court to temporarily remove firearms from high-risk individuals through due process. Few jurisdictions include medical professionals as parties who can initiate ERPOs. Given that, AMA adopted policy aimed at including medical professionals as parties who are able to ask a court to prevent someone at imminent risk of harm to themselves or others from purchasing or possessing firearms when there is a high or imminent risk for violence.

“Physicians are encouraged to ask patients at risk of firearm injury about access to firearms during routine patient visits. Allowing physicians to petition the courts when they encounter a patient at risk of firearm violence is necessary and could help prevent further firearm-related tragedies,” said Dr. Resneck.

Calling on Social Media Companies to Remove Posts Glorifying Firearm Violence

Delegates also adopted policy aimed at helping curb the proliferation of social media posts that promote firearm violence. Under the new policy, AMA will call on all social media sites to vigorously and aggressively remove posts that contain videos, photographs, and written online comments encouraging and glorifying the use of firearms.

To help end the ongoing and devastating effects of firearm violence in the U.S., AMA also strongly recommends that social media sites continuously update and monitor their algorithms to detect and eliminate any information that discusses and displays firearms and firearm violence in a way that encourages viewers to act violently.

“Misinformation and disinformation continue to spread through social media largely unchecked. With more than 48,000 Americans dying and tens of thousands more seriously injured from firearms every year, we can’t sit by while firearm violence is glorified through social media sites. We implore social media sites to take immediate action to limit these dangerous posts, people’s lives depend on it,” said Dr. Resneck.

For more highlights from the AMA annual meeting, click here

Also see: CMA partners with UC Davis on free online CME course on preventing firearm violence


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