The U.S. is in the midst of a public health crisis. For the first time ever, guns became the leading cause of death of U.S. children in 2020. In Oregon, almost 600 firearm-related deaths occurred in 2020 alone. Since 2020, the problem has only gotten worse. Oregon Health Authority data indicates that guns became the 3rd leading cause of death by injury in Oregon in 2021, accounting for 670 deaths. Sadly, firearm-related deaths are only the tip of the iceberg. For every person killed by a gun in the U.S., at least two more people suffer from non-fatal injuries.
For more than 2 decades, the American College of Physicians has called for common sense policies to keep our patients and communities safe. ACP’s positions are stated in the policy paper “Reducing Firearm Injuries and Deaths in the United States: A Position Paper From the American College of Physicians.” The Oregon Chapter of the American College of Physicians supports legislation in the Oregon House of Representatives that aims to reduce firearm-related injuries and deaths. HB 2005 would outlaw untraceable firearms – often called “ghost guns” – including firearms assembled from kits or 3D printers; would increase the minimum age to possess some guns to 21; and would allow local governments to outlaw concealed weapons on their premises. The bill is scheduled for a vote on the House floor on Tuesday, May 2. Oregon ACP urges members to contact their Oregon State Representatives and urge them to pass the bill.
Action Requested: Please use this link to write or call your Oregon State Representative and urge them to vote YES on HB 2005.
Oregon HB 2005 aims to reduce firearm injury and death through 3 mechanisms. The law would outlaw untraceable firearms – often called “ghost guns” – including firearms assembled from kits or 3D printers; would increase the minimum age to possess some guns to 21; and would allow local governments to outlaw concealed weapons on their premises. Each of these elements is an evidence-based strategy for reducing firearm injury and death. The data tells us that ghost guns are more likely to be used in violent crimes relative to guns produced by licensed manufacturers (Braga AA, Barao LM, Wintemute GJ, Valle S, Valente J. Privately manufactured firearms, newly purchased firearms, and the rise of urban gun violence. Prev Med. 2022 Dec;165(Pt A):107231. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2022.107231). Studies show that state laws that establish a minimum age for gun purchases have led to decreased rates of suicide among adolescents and young adults (Raifman J, Larson E, Barry CL, et al. State handgun purchase age minimums in the US and adolescent suicide rates: regression discontinuity and difference-in-differences analyses. BMJ. 2020;370:1–8). Finally, there is also evidence that right-to-carry laws are associated with increased risk for gun-related injury (Doucette ML, Crifasi CK, Frattaroli S. Right-to-Carry Laws and Firearm Workplace Homicides: A Longitudinal Analysis (1992- 2017). Am J Public Health. 2019 Dec;109(12):1747-1753. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2019.305307). Restricting guns from public premises is thus a common sense approach that is likely to reduce firearm injury.
Thank you for considering this request to engage with Oregon policymakers on behalf of the Oregon Chapter of ACP and on behalf of our patients and communities. Internal medicine physicians’ voices are essential in discussions of public health and public policy. Now is the time to make our voices heard on the epidemic of firearm-related injury and death.
Joel Burnett MD
Chair, Oregon ACP Health & Public Policy Committee