Massachusetts Medical Society: Testimony Relative to an Act to Prevent Gun Violence Before The Joint Committee On Public Health

Testimony Relative to an Act to Prevent Gun Violence Before The Joint Committee On Public Health

Testimony Relative to an Act to H.2005 Prevent Gun Violence Before The Joint Committee On Public Health

The Massachusetts Medical Society (MMS) wishes to offer comment relative to House bill 2005, An Act to prevent gun violence.

The MMS is a professional association of over 25,000 physicians, residents, and medical students across all clinical disciplines, organizations, and practice settings. The Medical Society is committed to advocating on behalf of patients for a better health care system, and on behalf of physicians, to help them to provide the best care possible. The Medical Society is committed to helping drive a public health response to gun violence, and we look forward to working with the Committee and the Sponsor to promote public policy to achieve this important aim.

The MMS has had longstanding policy in support of reducing the number of deaths, disabilities, and injuries attributable to guns; making gun ownership safer; promoting education relative to guns, ammunition, and violence prevention, for physicians and other health professionals as well as for the public; as well as encouraging research to understand the risk factors related to gun violence and deaths.

MMS has been active in several fronts to promote this policy. We partnered with the Office of the Attorney General to create educational materials for patients and physicians to aid in discussions about gun safety and relevant MA laws. We dedicated our 12th annual Public Health Leadership Forum to “Firearm Violence: Policy, Prevention & Public Health” and have used the content from that conference to create continuing medical education for physicians. And more recently, we convened area research and clinical experts in firearm violence for a one-day summit to discuss best practices and areas for collaboration in Massachusetts.

MMS has been pleased to comment on firearm-related legislation in the past, including support of last year’s bill to establish an extreme risk protective order in Massachusetts and legislation to fund additional research on firearm injury.

We hope that these efforts will bring improvements in many areas of firearm violence prevention and intervention. We know that a critical component to a public health response to firearm violence is supporting clinically appropriate conversations about firearm ownership and safe practices. In fact, MMS passed robust policy protecting physicians’ rights to have such conversations, especially in light of attacks on such freedoms of speech in Florida.

We look forward to working with the Public Health Committee and with Representative Santiago to find the best avenues to support clinically appropriate, evidence-based conversations between physician and patients, and to provide the necessary resources to respond appropriately to such conversations.

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