APhA Board of Trustees call for proactive steps to address gun violence as a public health crisis
The American Pharmacists Association Board of Trustees is issuing the following public statement calling for more proactive steps to address this important public health and safety issue. CDC data indicate that nearly 40,000 Americans in 2017 died from firearm related incidents — more than the number who died in traffic accidents but fewer than deaths related to opioid use. In 2018 and 2019, the use of firearms against healthcare professionals and community members led to discussions by APhA leadership, as well as by other healthcare organizations. The safety and well-being of pharmacists, student pharmacists, pharmacy personnel, and patients is of paramount importance to APhA. The U.S. public policy debates surrounding firearm related injuries and safety have wide‐ranging implications for pharmacy practice and the services pharmacists offer.
APhA recognizes firearms related injury and death as a public health crisis. As such, the Association:
- recommends a public health approach to the prevention of firearm injuries and deaths.
- calls for the funding of research related to firearm injuries and injury prevention, including use of personalized gun technology, to better understand the problem and to implement effective firearm injury prevention strategies.
- supports the engagement of pharmacists in the development of public policy to address firearm related violence and the prevention of firearm injuries and deaths.
- supports strengthening and enforcing state and federal laws to prohibit individuals convicted of crimes of violence from purchasing or possessing firearms.
- supports the classification of pharmacies as healthcare entities included within state and local laws which address “gun-free” or “concealed weapon” zones.
- supports the inclusion of pharmacists, student pharmacists, and pharmacy personnel as healthcare workers protected under state and local laws related to assault of a healthcare worker.
- supports the availability of education and information for pharmacy personnel regarding firearm violence prevention.
- encourages pharmacists and other health care professionals to have information accessible to patients and caregivers regarding the risks of having unsecured firearms in the home, and ways to mitigate the risks associated with having a firearm in the home.
- recommends pharmacists and other health professionals be trained to recognize and respond to individuals in crisis who might be at risk of injuring themselves or others.
- supports the enactment of extreme risk protection order (ERPO) laws which allow family members and law enforcement officers to petition a court to temporarily remove firearms from individuals who are determined to be at imminent risk of harming themselves or others while providing due process protections.
- supports training requirements on proper handling and use of firearms for anyone owning or operating a firearm.
- supports efforts to improve firearms to make them as safe as possible, including the incorporation of built-in safety devices (such as trigger locks and signals that indicate a gun is loaded).