Pa. Medical Society declares gun violence a threat to public health
Over the weekend, the Pennsylvania Medical Association announced it's intention to pursue federal funding for research on gun violence, citing a lack of hard evidence on the issue.
Dr. Scott McCracken, president-elect of the York County Medical Association and Pennsylvania Medical Society delegate, said the need for research is apparent in each victim. "When we look at gun violence as a public health problem that claims the lives of more than 30,000 people a year, we are in the unfortunate position of not having a lot of information about the direct causes for those deaths."
Patient safety, he says, comes with a multitude of problems that need to be addressed.
"Gun violence is a very complex problem. It arises from cultural, educational, behavioral issues, as well as product safety. All these issues transcend the single issue of gun ownership and we'd hope to have questions answered and to better understand the contribution of all these things to the public health threat."
He says the organization previously has been divided on the issue. "We felt during the conversation, particularly at the national level earlier in 2013, that we were not, as a group in organized medicine, strong enough in our support for patient safety and public health. And instead allowed our clear message of the importance of patient safety to be dragged into a politicized process," said McCracken.
Federal funding of gun research was reinstated by President Obama earlier this year. Due to 1996 legislation championed by the Nationla Rifle Association, federal funding was previously unavailable to researchers. The president changed that via executive order following last year's shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.
"There are groups that perform good research on gun violence, said McCracken "However these groups are very limited in that their funds do not come through traditional public health sources like the CDC or the Department of Health. What that does is limit the amount and quality of good evidence-based research to direct us to the solutions to gun violence," he said.