NAPNAP Calls for Solutions to Gun Violence Epidemic

The tragic school shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas on May 24 marks the 27th school shooting resulting in injuries and/or death in 2022. Gun violence and its associated physical and mental health consequences are an escalating public health crisis. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data, the U.S. averaged nine children and teens killed per day in 2019. More than 16,500 children and teens were injured by firearms in 2018. Firearm injuries are a leading cause of death for U.S. youth (Andrews, Kilings, Oddo, Gastineau, & Hink, 2022).

As experts in pediatrics and advocates for children, the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP) urges federal and state officials, health care professionals, educators and other community leaders to immediately convene to discuss solutions to gun violence which is impacting children and families of all races, gender, ethnicity and sexuality, and occurring in all communities. Since the Columbine High School massacre in 1999, elected leaders have failed to pass effective legislation to prevent firearm injury and death. Decades later, we must all work together to address various aspects of this national epidemic costing too many lives – in schools, churches, stores, businesses and streets everywhere.

According to the CDC, “Violence is a serious public health problem. Many more survive violence and suffer physical, mental and/or emotional health problems throughout the rest of their lives.” Exposure to gun violence, whether direct or indirect, has lifelong implications (Turner et al., 2019). CDC reports that gun violence costs tens of billions of dollars each year in medical and lost productivity costs. Research published in Health Affairs estimates $2.8 billion is spent on inpatient and emergency department costs related to gun violence annually.

As families’ trusted experts, pediatric nurse practitioners and their fellow pediatric-focused health care providers are positioned to:

  • Educate about firearm safety, including firearm storage practices in the home at all encounters
  • Promote utilization of adverse childhood events (ACEs) screening and training for healthcare professionals
  • Incorporate trauma-informed care for children and families to improve and to ameliorate the effects on those who experience violence

We can partner with schools, hospitals, and community-based organizations to support youth resiliency and trauma-informed care programs. It’s also critical to collaborate with community leaders and law enforcement partners to develop evidence-based community strategies to reduce gun violence, including outreach, conflict mediation, and behavioral interventions.

NAPNAP urges Congress and all states and territories to immediately undertake bi-partisan, comprehensive firearm reform through legislation that will significantly and permanently reduce the number of deaths, injuries and negative effects caused by firearm injuries. In particular, we call for:

  1. Increase funding for CDC, NIH and other programs aimed at researching and tracking gun violence effects and implementing violence prevention programs.
  2. Increase access to mental healthcare
  3. Incorporate trauma-informed care for children and families to improve and to ameliorate the effects on those who experience violence.
  4. Strengthen background checks and close loopholes that prevent background checks for all firearm sales, including those at firearm shows and private sales.
  5. Enact a firearm purchase waiting period of 72 hours to allow time for background checks to occur.
  6. Enact a federal minimum age to purchase a firearm of 21 years-old with exemptions for those in law enforcement or the military.
  7. Ban the sale, importation, or transfer of modifiers that convert firearms to act like semi-automatic or automatic weapons.
  8. Form a process to allow for gun violence restraining orders (GVROs) to allow temporary emergency restraining orders to prevent firearm possession and purchases of firearms by mentally ill or potentially violent individuals until they can be proven to be capable of responsible firearm ownership.
  9. Limit the sale and import of high-capacity magazines.
  10. Enact legislation and funding to address the significant issue of firearms trafficking and law enforcement capacity to enforce current firearm laws.
  11. Require all schools to regularly conduct active shooter training drills based on the most current best practices.

Click for patient and family mental health resources focused on anxiety, stressful events and depression. Health care providers can visit our clinical practice resource page or our Developmental Behavioral and Mental Health SIG page for additional information.

References:

  • https://www.edweek.org/leadership/school-shootings-this-year-how-many-and-where/2022/01
  • 2020. “Underlying Cause of Death, 1999-2019,” Detailed Mortality Tables. Accessed using CDC WONDER Online Database. wonder.cdc.gov/ucd-icd10.html. Reported on www.childrensdefense.org/state-of-americas-children/soac-2021-gun-violence/
  • 2020. “Nonfatal Injury Reports 2000-2018.” Accessed using WISQARS. www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/nonfatal.html. Calculations by Children’s Defense Fund.
  • Andrews, A.L., Killings, X., Oddo, E.R., Gastineau, K.A.B., & Hink, A.B. (2022). Pediatric firearm injury mortality epidemiology. Pediatrics, 149(3); e2021052739.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Violence Prevention available online at www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/index.html. Last accessed April 16, 2018.
  • cdc.gov/violenceprevention/firearms/fastfact.html
  • Turner, H.  A., Mitchell, K. J., Jones, L. M., Hamby, S., Wade, R., & Beseler, C. L. (2019). Gun violence exposure and posttraumatic symptoms among children and youth. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 32(6), 881-889
  • healthaffairs.org/doi/10.1377/hlthaff.2017.0625

May 25, 2022

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