The American Medical Association announced on Wednesday it would back strict new gun-control measures including banning and confiscating certain firearms.
The measures, which the group called "common-sense," include outlawing not only the sale of what the group referred to as "assault-type" weapons but also their possession, outlawing the possession of any firearms by adults under 21 years old, a national gun registry, requiring a license to own any firearms, and gun buyback programs among a number of other proposals. The group also called for a ban on the possession of bump-fire stocks, stated its opposition to teachers being allowed to carry firearms in schools, and stated its opposition to national concealed-carry reciprocity. The group also called for the passage of a law which would bar those convicted of domestic violence offenses from owning guns even though federal law already includes such a provision.
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"People are dying of gun violence in our homes, churches, schools, on street corners and at public gatherings, and it's important that lawmakers, policy leaders, and advocates on all sides seek common ground to address this public health crisis," retiring AMA president David O. Barbe, M.D., MHA, said in a statement. "In emergency rooms across the country, the carnage of gun violence has become a too routine experience. Every day physicians are treating suicide victims, victims of domestic partner violence, and men and women simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. It doesn't have to be this way, and we urge lawmakers to act."
The positions backed by the AMA are stricter than those backed by most gun-control organizations, which have tended to shy away from calling for outright bans on the possession of any firearms. It also marks a new chapter in the group, which bills itself as a public health advocacy organization, embracing liberal political causes. Last month the group sided with Planned Parenthood and slammed the Trump administration for partially restricting federal funding of abortion providers.
In response to the group's new positions, the National Rifle Association said the AMA is playing politics and should focus on its core mission rather than advocating for gun control.
"The AMA's stated vision is ‘to enhance the delivery of care' and ‘partner with patients to achieve better health,'" Chris Cox, head of the gun-rights group's Institute for Legislative Action, told the Washington Free Beacon. "They should focus their efforts on the 250,000 deaths due to medical errors, the medical community's complicity in the opioid crisis that takes 42,000 lives per year or the mental health crisis that results in nearly 50,000 suicides per year. The AMA should return to focusing on medical care and stop engaging in gun-control politics."
Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership, a group of pro-gun physicians, said the AMA's new positions amounted to "overtly agenda-driven political posturing."
"There is nothing ‘common-sense' about agitating for depriving 330 million people of their fundamental human rights of due process, advocating for creating a category of second-class citizens (18 to 20 year old "non-adults"), apparent confiscation of property used to exercise a constitutional right (in order to enforce a ban on possession), advocating for policies equivalent to poll taxes (proficiency testing, etc.—whose only purpose is to be an obstacle to exercising a fundamental right), and policies that have been historically proven to create more victims and carnage, not less (gun-free zones, no concealed carry)," Arthur Z. Przebinda, M.D., project director at Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership, told the Free Beacon. "What is worrisome, however, is that this action flies in the face of the principles of physicians being nonpaternalistic consultants. Instead, with this vote, the AMA is revealing itself to be a group of busy-body control freaks either ignorant of, or outright rejecting, principles of human rights, self-determination and liberty. It's a massive scale boundary violation."
When reached for comment, AMA spokesperson Jack Deutsch did not respond to questions about the group's new positions or to the criticisms of them levied by gun-rights groups. He would not say if the AMA believed their stance might affect the relationship between gun owners and the physicians involved with the group. Instead he referred the Free Beacon to the group's above-mentioned prepared statement.