In the wake of a barrage of mass shootings, the U.S. Senate announced a bipartisan agreement on gun reforms. While the agreement falls short of the wide-ranging reforms passed last week by the U.S. House of Representatives, the California Medical Association (CMA) is encouraged that there has been progress towards ending the decades long impasse over passing any federal gun reform legislation.
The House approved gun control legislation—the Protecting Our Kids Act (HR 7910)—with a largely partisan vote of 223-204. CMA stood in strong support of these reforms, which would address some of our nation’s most significant gun violence problems.
However, HR 7910 as passed by the House has little chance of passing the Senate amid widespread GOP opposition to stricter gun control.
“The epidemic of gun violence sweeping our nation is a serious and preventable public health threat,” said CMA President Robert E. Wailes, M.D. “The California Medical Association (CMA) strongly supports efforts in Congress to reduce gun violence in the United States. As physicians, we take an oath to do no harm and imposing reasonable gun laws that will keep people safe goes hand in hand with our sacred oath.”
The Senate compromise would:
- Establish a so-called “red flag provision,” which would provide resources to states and tribes to create and administer laws to keep deadly weapons out of the hands of individuals deemed to be a significant danger to themselves or others;
- Support funding for school safety resources, including an expansion of mental health and supportive services as well as an increase in school security resources;
- Create an enhanced review process for buyers under the age of 21 and penalties for straw purchases; and
- Close the so-called “boyfriend loophole,” so that dating partners, in addition to spouses, would be prohibited from owning a gun if convicted of domestic violence.
It would not, however, include these reforms that were part of the House package:
- Prohibit the import, sale, manufacture, transfer and possession of large capacity ammunition feeding devices;
- Prohibit the sale or transfer of certain semiautomatic firearms to individuals under the age of 21; and
- Establish new federal criminal offenses for gun trafficking and related conduct;
- Establish a federal statutory framework to regulate ghost guns (i.e., guns without serial numbers); and
- Establish a framework to regulate the storage of firearms on residential premises at the federal, state, and tribal levels.
CMA has long-standing policy recommendations for reducing firearm-related trauma, injury, and death. In 2017, the CMA Firearm Violence Prevention Technical Advisory Committee, composed of physician experts, performed a comprehensive review and analysis of CMA policy, epidemiological data and current scientific research and developed a CMA position statement on the prevention of firearm violence.
CMA stands firmly in support of Congress’ efforts to address the epidemic of gun violence.
“We are encouraged by reports that a bipartisan group of senators have reached a tentative agreement and we urge Congress to move forward quickly on legislation that will save lives, reduce gun violence and keep our children and communities safe,” said Dr. Wailes.
The House also passed two separate gun control bills: HR 2377, which would create a national “red flag” law to temporarily remove firearms from people deemed to be a threat to themselves or others; and HR 8, which closed the loopholes that allowed guns purchases online or at gun shows without background checks.