Washington, D.C. — Having witnessed first hand the cost of gun violence in emergency rooms, trauma centers, and their medical practices, a group of Oklahoma physicians from Doctors for America are urging Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) to enact common-sense measures to stem gun violence in America—starting with universal background checks for all gun purchases.
Oklahoma has the eighth-highest homicide rate for children younger than age 19 and ranks 14th in the nation for firearm deaths per capita in the past decade. In the wake of the tragic school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, the physicians are urging Sen. Coburn to pass stronger gun legislation immediately to address this national health crisis and keep children and communities safe.
“While there is no single provision that will stop these tragedies from occurring, we must approach this issue from all angles—just as we have successfully approached other threats to public health, like motor vehicle accident, fire, and drowning deaths,” wrote the physicians in a letter mailed to Sen. Coburn today.
In their letter, the physicians recommended that Congress require a criminal background check for every gun purchase and ensure that the federal gun check databases are up to date. Under America’s current system:
- Federal law only requires background checks from licensed dealers.
- A dangerous person need only find a “private seller” online or at a gun show to buy firearms without undergoing a background check.
- Each year it is estimated that more than 6.6 million guns—40 percent of all gun sales—are sold by unlicensed private sellers who do not perform a background check.
The letter concluded with the doctors noting that, “As health-care professionals who experience the human cost of gun violence every day, we are firm in our belief that sensible measures to reduce gun violence—like universal background checks—must be taken immediately. We strongly urge you and your fellow members of Congress to support legislation to reduce gun-related injuries and deaths.”
This is the second letter Sen. Coburn has received from Oklahoma physicians and health care professionals in Doctors for America. The first letter laid out Doctors for America’s full proposal to reduce gun violence and included a petition signed by more than 4,000 health care professionals.
Download Doctors for America’s gun-violence prevention petition and proposal here.
To speak with an expert on this topic, contact Alissa Manzoeillo at 202.741.6293.
Doctors for America is a nonpartisan national movement made up of more than 16,000 doctors and medical students from all 50 states fighting for a healthier America and to ensure all Americans have access to high-quality, affordable health insurance. To find out more: www.drsforamerica.org. You can also