Nursing & Healthcare News

Nursing Organizations Speak Out on Gun Violence

ANA, AANP, ENA issue statements

Three nursing leaders. Left to right, a woman smiling at the camera, a man standing at a podium, and a woman speaking to a crowd

After recent mass-casualty shootings in Ohio and Texas, three national nursing organizations have issued public statements calling for policymakers to take stronger action against gun violence.

“Common-Sense Reforms”

On August 6, following shootings in Dayton and El Paso that together killed 31 people and wounded more than 50 others, American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) President Sophia L. Thomas, APRN, DNP, FNP-BC, PPCNP-BC, FNAP, FAANP, publicly called on policymakers to set “politics aside and [focus] on common- sense reforms” to federal gun laws.

The next day, ANA President Ernest J. Grant, RN, Ph.D., FAAN, issued a similar statement. “The American Nurses Association … has for decades called on lawmakers to pass common-sense policies at the state and federal level that will stem gun violence,” Grant said. “It is time to turn our grief into action.”

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On September 3, the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) joined that chorus. “Whether it is gun violence on a neighborhood street or the senseless loss of innocent lives in a mass shooting,” said ENA President Patti Kunz Howard, RN, Ph.D., CEN, CPEN, TCRN, NE-BC, FAEN, FAAN, “we should all be able to agree that it is time to take the steps necessary to reduce the number of people being brought to an emergency department because of firearm-related injuries.”

Bipartisan Background Checks Act

Grant and Howard both called upon the Senate to pass H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, which passed the House 227–190 back in February. That bill would close a loophole in existing federal gun laws: Although licensed dealers are required to conduct background checks to determine if a prospective buyer is disqualified from gun purchases for reasons such as past criminal convictions or involuntary commitment, federal law doesn’t require such checks for private transfers.

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A few states, including California, do require background checks for private transfers, but a purchaser can often avoid the requirement by purchasing a gun in another state. The shooter in another recent mass-casualty incident, in Odessa, Texas, reportedly exploited this loophole to purchase his weapon after failing a background check in 2014.

Photos above: Along with reforms to existing federal gun laws, AANP President Sophia L. Thomas (left), ANA President Ernest J. Grant (center), and ENA President Patti Kunz Howard (right) call for renewed federal research into gun violence, which has largely stalled since the mid-90s. Grant asked Congress to provide the CDC with $50 million to “conduct gun violence research to help identify and address the underlying issues that motivate acts of violence.”

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