As the city of El Paso struggles to find a new normal in the wake of Saturday’s Wal-Mart massacre, Texas’ elected leaders have begun again to grapple with a response to the third mass shooting in the state in 21 months.
“The physicians of Texas continue to grieve with our fellow Texans over yet another heinous episode of gun violence,” Texas Medical Association President David C. Fleeger, MD, told Texas Medicine Today. “We are tremendously proud of our fellow physicians and other attending professionals who are thrust into responding to these crises. These frontline physicians share in the trauma and horror along with the patients and their families in places such as El Paso.”
Spurred by the tragic events in Sutherland Springs in 2017 and Santa Fe in 2018, the TMA House of Delegates earlier this year adopted two comprehensive reports that establish new association policy on firearms safety. The reports were prepared by a specially appointed TMA Workgroup on Firearms, chaired by Fort Worth pediatrician Gary Floyd, MD, a member of the TMA Board of Trustees.
The new policy states that TMA “recognizes gun violence as a public health issue requiring promotion of evidence-based strategies” and says medical societies “should speak out” about prevention.
“This is more than a public safety problem – this is a public health crisis,” Dr. Fleeger said. “Thus, it will require public health type solutions.”
Highlights of the newly adopted policy include:
- Physicians should be able to discuss the risks of firearms – particularly the risk to children – with their patients and their families. Physicians need to continue to screen and counsel their patients on the importance of firearm safety.
- Because more than one in three adult Texans possesses at least one firearm, TMA supports the Texas Legislature’s public awareness campaign on gun safety. “We urge the Department of Public Safety to expedite efforts to roll out a statewide campaign on firearm storage,” Dr. Fleeger said.
- Texas should participate in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Violent Death Reporting System. There is insufficient data on the underlying reasons for violent deaths due to firearms in Texas. To evaluate gun violence reduction strategies, Texas should participate in national surveillance studies. “We need more timely Texas data so that we can assess the factors associated with gun violence,” Dr. Fleeger explained.
“There is an urgent need to improve Texas’ understanding of firearms violence and of the outreach and public awareness that is needed,” Dr. Fleeger said. “TMA is committed to working with any and all elected officials and like-minded organizations with similar goals.”
TMA’s Recent Legislative Record on Firearms Safety
In addition, TMA stood up in 2015 against legislative efforts to limit the ability of physicians to counsel patients on firearm safety. In 2017, TMA testified in support of a bill to designate a special month to focus public conversation on firearm violence.
Photo: Creative Commons
Last Updated On
January 29, 2020