Ahead of the US Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics announced the submission of a statement including more than 300 pediatricians sharing their personal testimonies on the subject.
Today, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) announced that more than 300 pediatricians had submitted personal testimonies to the US Senate Judiciary Committee ahead of the committee’s hearing on gun violence prevention. The pediatricians’ submissions illustrated how gun violence has impacted patients, communities, and lives. According to the AAP, all stories were submitted in just over 2 days and range from heart wrenching accounts of patients who have experienced gun violence to the long-term trauma caused by gun violence exposure.1
A bipartisan gun safety proposal, if passed, would make improvements to the background check system, support red flag laws, enhance school safety, close domestic violence loopholes, and introduce stronger penalties for straw purchasing—a criminal act in which an item, especially a firearm, is bought by a person on behalf of another who is legally unable to make such a purchase.2
“We have been elected to the US Senate to respond to American crises,” US Senate Majority whip Dick Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois, said in a statement on June 12, 2022. “Each of the elements in this bipartisan gun safety package has the potential to save lives. I continue to believe military-style assault weapons that can shred the bodies of their victims have no place in civilian use—but we cannot let the perfect Congressional response be the enemy of the good. Though this agreement falls short in this and other respects, it can and will make our nation safer.”2
During the hearing, AAP president Moira Szilagyi, MD, PhD, FAAP, testified before senators to discuss the emotional and physical toll of gun violence on young people and the need for comprehensive policies to keep children safe. Additionally, she urged the Senate to complete action on the recently announced bipartisan framework on gun safety as a much needed first step in addressing gun violence.1
“These testimonies should be required reading for every Senator and Representative,” said Szilagyi, in the AAP announcement. “Their words and perspectives vary, but their common thread is urgency. Children and adolescents are dying. We must act now. Pediatricians will continue to speak up in every way we know how until we see meaningful policy change.”
A preview of the statements given include:
“Children who are shot are usually rushed to the hospital—without their parents—as fast as possible by EMS or police. So I have looked into the terrified eyes of many children after they’ve been shot and tried to comfort them. I tell them that they’re in a safe place now, that we’re going to take care of them, while around them our ER staff moves quickly, cutting off clothes, placing IVs, assessing the injuries, treating pain, and doing our best to minimize the damage after the injury occurred. The feeling of their scared eyes, locked on mine, while I tell them they’re safe, is a feeling I don’t forget. There is a promise in that look we share. They desperately want an adult to take care of them. I tell them they’re safe in a safe place now, but in my heart, I don’t know if they are.”
– Halden Scott, MD, Denver, Colorado, Pediatric Emergency Medicine, page 4 of the document.
“One of the many that I have treated in the emergency department and the Level 1 trauma center was a young child who pulled his father’s gun and pretended to play war with his brother; not knowing that the gun was real and loaded he fatally shot his 6-year-old brother in the chest. The child kept crying hysterically, refusing to separate from his dead brother. The parents were agonized for the child who died and their other child who will carry the guilt of killing his brother for life.”
– Madeline Joseph, MD, Jacksonville, Florida, Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Page 32
“Gun violence can occur at any time, any place and under any circumstances. In this case of road rage, the driver from another car got angry and shot the car through the trunk, and the bullet went into the child sitting in the back seat.”
– Mustafa Kabeer, MD, Irvine, California, Pediatric Surgery, Page 21
“For example, last week, a mother brought in her 8-year-old daughter to discuss the child’s difficulties sleeping. Ever since she went through active shooter “run, hide, fight” drills at her elementary school, she has experienced nightmares. She cannot sleep in her own bed. She cannot sleep with the lights off. She cries nearly every day when her mother waves goodbye to her from the bus stop because she is scared it will be the last time she ever sees her mom.”
– Dr. Nancy Heavilin, Somers Point, New Jersey, General Pediatrics, Page 14