The policy recommendations in this paper build on, strengthen, and expand current ACP policies approved by the Board of Regents in April 2014 (1) and are based on an analysis of approaches that the evidence suggests will be effective in reducing deaths and injuries from firearm-related violence.
The ACP has long advocated for policies to reduce the rate of firearm injuries and deaths in the United States and once again calls on its members, nonmember physicians, nonphysician clinicians, policymakers, and the public to take action on this important issue.
The College acknowledges that any such regulations must be consistent with the Supreme Court ruling establishing that individual ownership of firearms is a constitutional right under the Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights.a.
Sales of firearms should be subject to satisfactory completion of a criminal background check and proof of satisfactory completion of an appropriate educational program on firearms safety.
The policy paper and related recommendations were reviewed and approved by the ACP Board of Regents on 21 July 2018.
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Financial support for the development of this position paper came exclusively from the ACP operating budget.
Physicians should counsel patients on the risk of having firearms in the home, particularly when children, adolescents, people with dementia, people with mental illnesses, people with substance use disorders, or others who are at increased risk of harming themselves or others are present.b.
Physicians are encouraged to discuss with their patients the risks that may be associated with having a firearm in the home and recommend ways to mitigate such risks, including best practices to reduce injuries and deaths.c.
The American College of Physicians supports a universal background check system to keep guns out of the hands of felons, persons with mental illnesses that put them at a greater risk of inflicting harm to themselves or others, persons with substance use disorders, domestic violence offenders, and others who already are prohibited from owning guns.
Clear guidance should be issued on what mental health and substance use records should be submitted to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).