American Academy of Nursing Releases Position Statement on Firearm Safety and Violence Prevention

The American Academy of Nursing (Academy) has released a position statement on firearm safety and violence prevention. The Academy has long supported policies to reduce firearm violence. Firearm violence, from suicides to mass shootings, is an epidemic in the United States, and as such, a public health approach to addressing the causes and risk factors leading to violence is necessary to safeguard the health of the nation. The Academy’s position was built on current research, national statistics, and evidence-based recommendations.

This position statement was prepared by members of the Academy’s Expert Panels on Acute & Critical Care; Environmental & Public Health; Health Equity; Psychiatric, Mental Health, & Substance Use; and Violence. The Academy’s Expert Panels are the organization’s thought leadership bodies, consisting of Fellows with expertise in specific topic areas who maximize their analytical skills and networks to review the current trends, research, and issues within their field to make informed and evidence-based recommendations.

View the entire position statement online here.

Policy Recommendations
The Academy calls for a wide-reaching, evidence-based public health approach to address and prevent firearm-related violence and promote firearm safety, including distinguishing key factors that contribute to all types of firearm-related violence while identifying actionable solutions.

Strengthen the nursing and health workforce to conduct and lead health screenings, patient counseling, and family-, school-, and community-based violence prevention training and programs to address risk factors such as unintentional shootings, intimate partner violence, toxic stress, bullying, and mental health.

Increase funding for all federal health agencies to conduct public health research.
Strengthen laws and federally mandate extreme risk protection laws to assure firearm purchases are temporarily prohibited for individuals at high risk for harming themselves or others as well as those with restraining orders or convictions of family violence, domestic violence, and stalking.

Require universal background checks for all gun sales, from licensed and unlicensed dealers.

Establish a comprehensive definition for “semi-automatic assault weapons” and high-capacity magazines and create policies to regulate firearms being manufactured or converted at home to automatic weapons.

Reenact provisions of the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act, specifically Title IX, Subtitle A of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act (Public Law 103-322).[1]

Increase the age limit for all firearm purchases to 21 years of age.
Expand mental health services for all, including individuals at risk of committing acts of violence.

Increase funding for and create evidence-based violence prevention and intervention programs such as the Family Violence Prevention and Services Program that are rigorously evaluated.[2]

[1] H.R.3355 – 103rd Congress (1993-1994): Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. (1994, September 13). http://www.congress.gov/
[2] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2021, October 29) Family Violence Prevention &; Services. The Administration for Children and Families. Retrieved from: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/fysb/programs/family-violence-prevention-services

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