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Family physicians group urges passage of gun violence prevention bills

Published: 8/20/2019 8:18:17 AM

Two weeks ago, the New Hampshire Academy of Family Physicians sent Gov. Chris Sununu a letter that implored him to sign three gun violence prevention bills, House Bills 514, 109, and 564. Instead, the governor vetoed all three. At this point, we urge the House and Senate to overturn his veto and pass these critical bills into law.

After the governor’s veto of these bills, we feel the need to write this piece to illuminate why we think these measures are so important to our state and nation. As family physicians, we see the consequences of gun violence every day in our practices. Although the media may consider the immediate horror that we all feel, it is the physicians who see the long-term consequences. We see the parent of the child who died by suicide, the children of the police officers shot on duty, and the families of victims of all gun violence. We see many of them for the rest of their lives. As physicians, we must stand up for public health and the communities we serve. Gun violence is a matter of public health and it is critical that our society treats it as such. Just as reducing drunk driving deaths didn’t require banning cars or alcohol, we can save lives through preventive strategies that let us live more safely with things that can cause harm.

Whether it’s preventing the daily tragedy of suicides, homicides, and accidents, or ensuring we never experience a horrific mass shooting like El Paso and Dayton, New Hampshire needs to act on common sense gun safety, especially those laws that have been found to prevent injury and death while respecting gun rights. Few policies in the United States have as broad support: background checks are supported by over 93% of Americans in households with guns and 93% of those in households without guns; mandatory waiting periods are supported by 72% of gun-owning households and 89% of non-gun households.

We hope that our Legislature will take all of this into consideration when they consider overturning Gov. Sununu’s veto of HB 109, HB 514, and HB 564. The American Academy of Family Physicians currently has a policy statement regarding the prevention of gun violence. Their policy statement reads, “The AAFP believes that federal and state policies can balance the right to own firearms with health, safety, and societal well-being.” The New Hampshire American Academy of Family Physicians has followed suit and taken specific positions on the prevention of gun violence as well.

Our current policy statement supports universal background checks, extreme risk protection orders, waiting periods, and gun-free school zones with particular attention to the equitable application of these policies. The New Hampshire Academy of Family Physicians, representing over 400 physicians in the State of New Hampshire, urges our Legislature to overturn the governor’s veto of HB 109, HB 514, and HB 564.

(Melissa Duxbury is president and Catrina Watson is executive director of the New Hampshire Academy of Family Physicians. NHAFP board members signing in support: Maria Boylan, Travis Harker, Gary Sobelson, Marie Ramas, Lou Kazal, Molly Rossignol, Polina Sayess, Laura Fry, Javier Cardenas, Doug Dreffer, Mary Cullen, Cowan Stark, Greg Thesing, Hilary Alvarez, Joann Buonomano, Amy Schneider and Paula A. Leonard-Schwartz.)

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