Target: The American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Psychological Association
Goal: Publicly endorse gun control to help reduce gun violence
The media recently reported that over 90 percent of the American public voiced support of gun reform. Now, the numbers are steadily dropping and a large portion of citizens desire that the subject be dropped altogether. Contributing to this downslide are medical groups that claim mental health background checks would hinder the mentally ill from seeking aid. Despite evidence that background checks of all kinds do result in decreased gun violence, medical groups continue to fear them. Urge them to take a stand against gun violence and support background checks for gun purchases.
In 1996 Australia’s Prime Minister John Howard passed numerous gun reform laws, resulting in reduced gun violence. The laws prohibited all automatic and semi-automatic weapons, and required background checks and waiting periods for all gun buyers. The firearm homicide rate fell by 59 percent and the firearm suicide rate by 65 percent within a decade.
Despite this historical evidence, medical groups oppose reform because they fear that mentally ill individuals will refuse to seek help if their records are disclosed to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System. While the information would not be public knowledge, they argue that mentally ill patients may wish to choose guns over treatment.
Still, the benefits of mental health background checks would greatly outweigh the negative likelihood that mentally ill persons would refuse to seek help. Roland Browne of Gun Control Australia claims that his Australian government has “the pre-eminent responsibility of ensuring public safety” and so does the United States government. If disclosing a mentally ill patient’s health records to the FBI can save others from gun violence, as has been shown in Australia, then the government must protect the public by enacting gun reform. Sadly, medical groups are swaying the vote and discouraging much needed change.
The U.S. government is still debating gun reform and it is important for public institutions, especially ones that for work directly in favor for the health of American citizens, to endorse legislation that would reduce violence in the long-term. Urge these medical groups to support gun reform and mental health background checks in order to make our nation a safer place.
Dear American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association, and American Psychological Association,
While the Obama administration is attempting to enforce gun control to reduce gun violence in the United States, various medical groups have publicly opposed the legislation. Because mental health records would be released to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, your organization does not support the checks out of fear that mentally ill persons will not seek aid.
However, the number of citizens who are protected as a result of background checks exceed those who may potentially refuse medical assistance due to a mental illness. As it remains, universal background checks have proven to be effective in reducing gun violence. As an influential medical group, your organization has the power to promote beneficial reform, and you are obligated as a health organization to support measures that increase safety. If releasing health records to the FBI is a prerequisite for reducing gun violence, then it should be taken immediately. I urge you to support gun reform.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Francois Polito via Wikimedia Commons