Medical professionals serve as the first line of defense in combating gun violence
Drawing from their experiences, Colorado medical experts tell Congress that now is the time to act
June 1, 2019— Highlighting investments critical to addressing a gun violence crisis that kills over 100 Americans every day, Giffords, the gun violence prevention organization led by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the Colorado Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Colorado Academy of Family Physicians, the Colorado Academy of Physician Assistants, the American College of Physicians Colorado Chapter, and Doctors for America rallied today to urge Congress to immediately fund research into gun violence for the first time in decades.
“Doctors, nurses, and paramedics know all too well the devastation that follows a shooting,” said Lydia Kuykendal, deputy engagement director at Giffords. “These medical professionals are at the front lines of the country’s growing gun violence epidemic, dealing with its painful aftermath. They’ve had enough of this crisis and came together in Denver to demand Congress fund research into the causes of gun violence. In order to effectively address the problem, we must first understand it, and today’s rally should be a wake up call for the Congress that there’s no more time to waste. Too many lives are on the line.”
Coming together at the Civic Center Park amphitheater, health providers made the case that funding research into gun violence is critical to better improve the safety of Colorado families and their communities.
“As stewards of public health, physicians like myself have a unique perspective on the dangers and consequences of firearms violence, and I have seen the need for research into gun violence first hand,” said Christina Reimer, Governor of the Colorado American College of Physicians. “In my practice treating adults, I see too often the toll that firearms injuries and deaths place on my patients. Patients who have sustained an injury from a firearm will deal with physical consequences, often for the rest of their lives. And even after the bullets have been removed and their wounds have been sutured, their pain remains, often impacting mental health—depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Patients can also experience physical consequences and can develop diabetes, heart disease, and cancers, along with many other chronic health conditions. We know that major stress and trauma increases the likelihood of a patient developing of all of these things, so, trust me when I say that when it comes to firearms violence, This is unequivocally our lane.”
Earlier this month, the House Appropriations Committee approved $50 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to research America’s gun violence crisis. The bill awaits a vote by the full House, while the U.S. Senate has yet to announce if it plans to support the funding.
“In my career, I’ve seen the horrific effects of gun violence time and time again, and I’m sick and tired of waiting for action,” said Kevin Connell of Colorado Nurses Association. “Research works, but because of the wide reach of powerful gun lobbying groups, the US has not allocated federal funds to research gun violence in over 20 years. Senator Gardner, Senator Bennet, I demand that you and your colleagues in Congress join with the House in approving the $50 million allocated to funding the research of gun violence. We cannot wait. Now is the time to end this charade. Now is the time to demand change. Now is the time to stand up and say enough is enough. Not. One. More.”
Following a 1993 CDC-funded study that found individuals with a gun in the home are 2.7 times more likely to become homicide victims, Congress moved to strip CDC’s firearms research budget. Since then, federal investment in gun violence research has remained virtually absent at the nation’s premier institution for public health, despite gun deaths rising for the past three years to nearly 40,000 people in 2017. Recently, CDC and Trump administration officials have expressed CDC’s willingness and ability to restart this research, with CDC director Robert Redfield stating that his team is “poised to do the research in this area if Congress chooses to appropriate the funding.”
Giffords launched a partnership with leading medical and public health groups to advocate for research funding at the CDC and the NIH to study gun violence, gun deaths, and gun injury in order to better improve public health and safety. In a letter sent to Congressional leadership of the 116th Congress, the groups noted that over the past several decades, scientific and medical research has led to policies that have prevented deaths from automobile accidents, public sanitation, and cancer. The collective effort is calling on Congress to properly fund gun violence prevention research.