Firearm injuries—accidental or otherwise—should be addressed as a public health epidemic. Emergency physicians are leading the call for dedicating more resources into research on the causes of gun violence and how to prevent it.
While recognizing the right of individuals to own firearms, more can be done to prevent gun violence. Emergency physicians support policies supporting background checks for firearms purchases and efforts to restrict the sale and ownership of weapons and munitions designed for military or law enforcement use.
Emergency physicians also continue to advocate for improved access to mental health services from the ED and in the surrounding community.
While not the sole answer, increasing mental health services in America is an important part of reducing firearms injuries. Some 60 percent of deaths by firearms are suicides. Millions of people come to EDs across the country with psychiatric emergencies because there are severe shortages of mental health resources in the U.S.
Emergency physicians champion a more comprehensive community-based approach to mental health care, which means that we need more funding for local programs and professionals to give patients who currently do not receive treatment outside of the emergency department a better chance at leading a healthier life.