PSR/Sacramento is saddened that yet another mass shooting has occurred in our country, most recently in Isla Vista, near the UC Santa Barbara campus. We extend our sympathy to all who have been affected by this mass shooting, but we also agree with the public statement made by the father of one of the victims who said that sympathy is not enough - definitive action needs to be taken to stop the tragic epidemic of firearm related deaths and injuries in our country.
The regular occurrence of mass shootings is unique to the United States among the other high income democratic countries of the world. As horrific as these mass shootings are, though, they are the tip of a much larger epidemic. Every year, approximately 30,000 U.S. civilians, including about 3,000 Californians, are killed by guns. The rate of firearm-related deaths for children ages 15 and under is almost 12 times higher in the U.S. than the rate in the other leading 25 industrialized countries of the world. Handguns, in particular, account for about 80% of all firearm-related deaths, but only a third to one half of all firearms owned.
While many people keep guns in their home for "protection," there is overwhelming evidence that guns in the home are much more likely to be used to kill, injure, or intimidate a household member than to protect against an intruder. In one of the best known studies on this subject published in the New England Journal of Medicine, it was shown that for every one time a gun in the home was used to kill an attacker, there were 43 gun-related suicides, homicides, or accidental deaths of household members.
The Sacramento Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility believes that rates of firearm-related deaths and injuries in the United States are at unacceptably high levels and that health care professionals have a duty not only to treat gunshot victims but to work to prevent shootings from occurring in the first place. Accordingly, PSR/Sacramento works to educate health care professionals, policy makers, and the general public concerning the risks of guns in our homes and in our communities and to support sensible firearm legislation. Please click on these links for the full PSR/Sacramento position statement concerning firearm related death and injuries in the United States and for a detailed, fully referenced white paper that provides background information for the position statement.
Following the December 2012 mass shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, PSR/Sacramento chose as the prompt for its annual High School Scholarship Essay Contest the position statement of the American Academy of Pediatrics, published in April, 2000, which stated, "Firearm regulations, to include bans of handguns and assault weapons, are the most effective way to reduce firearm-related injuries." Click on these links to read the essays of the 10 winners of the 2013 scholarship essay contest and the article published by PSR/Sacramento Vice President Dr. Bill Durston following the Sany Hook massacre.