DR. ROACH WRITES: As I write this, another gun tragedy has taken place in the United States.
Gun violence is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in the U.S. With over 10,000 deaths yearly, including accidental deaths and suicide, gun violence is a more important cause of death than many of the conditions I discuss in this column. Unfortunately, the U.S. Congress has repeatedly failed to fund research on gun violence by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the best-placed U.S. agency to follow what can reasonably be described as an epidemic.
Governments have attempted to keep physicians silent on gun violence. Florida passed a law preventing physicians from discussing gun safety with their patients. The goals of discussing gun safety with patients are to consider a means of reducing risk of injury.
As a physician, it's not my place to discuss changes in the law or in public policy; however, it is a physician's place to make recommendations to responsible gun owners for reducing risk. As gun violence continues to escalate, it's particularly important for physicians to be part of the solution to reduce gun injury. It's still up to politicians to write laws to protect the public; until that happens, a physician's brief discussion on gun safety won't stop all gun violence, but it can reduce gun injuries, especially accidental ones, and especially in households with children.