As experts in pediatrics and advocates for children, the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP) urges federal and state leaders to immediately address the growing gun violence and public health crisis in our nation. The school shooting in Michigan on Nov. 30, the 28th school shooting this year, reminds us of the horrors of gun violence impacting our youth. 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 guns in 2018.
One of NAPNAP’s primary advocacy goals is to positively affect policies on “injury prevention and harm reduction activities focusing on the leading causes of childhood illness, injury adverse childhood experiences, maltreatment and any form of violence against children, including gun violence prevention.” For nearly 50 years, NAPNAP has focused on pediatric illness and injury prevention as a core principle. NAPNAP believes that gun policy reform is critically necessary to improve the safety of our children. We highly encourage pediatric health care providers to provide injury prevention anticipatory guidance, including discussions about gun safety.
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.” The number of children directly and indirectly affected by gun injuries, whether intentional or unintentional, makes this a public health issue. In addition to the physical and emotional tolls on children and families, 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.
NAPNAP urges Congress and all states and territories to immediately undertake bi-partisan, comprehensive gun reform through legislation that will significantly and permanently reduce the number of deaths, injuries and negative effects caused by gun injuries in our families and communities.
NAPNAP urges Congress, in particular, to immediately move forward with the following legislative reforms.
- Increase funding for CDC, NIH and other programs aimed at researching and tracking gun violence effects and implementing violence prevention programs.
- Strengthen access to mental healthcare to incorporate trauma-informed care for children and families to improve and to ameliorate the effects on those who experience violence.
- Strengthen background checks and close loopholes that prevent background checks for all firearm sales, including those at gun shows and private sales.
- Enact a firearm purchase waiting period of 72 hours to allow time for background checks to occur.
- Enact a federal minimum age to purchase a firearm of 21 years-old with exemptions for those in law enforcement or the military.
- Enact a federal ban on the sale, importation, or transfer of modifiers that convert firearms to act like semi-automatic or automatic weapons.
- 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 gun ownership.
- Limit the sale and import of high-capacity magazines.
- Enact legislation and funding to address the significant issue of firearms trafficking and law enforcement capacity to enforce current gun laws.
- Require all schools to regularly conduct active shooter training drills based on the most current best practices.
Dec. 1, 2021
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.
- CDC. 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/
- CDC. 2020. “Nonfatal Injury Reports 2000-2018.” Accessed using WISQARS. www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/nonfatal.html. Calculations by Children’s Defense Fund.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Violence Prevention available online at www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/index.html. Last accessed April 16, 2018.