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PTS Position Statement on Gun Violence

Dear Colleagues,

On behalf of the Pediatric Trauma Society, the Executive Board wishes to express our deepest sympathy to the families affected by the senseless violence in Parkland, Florida, which saw 17 innocent children and adults slaughtered in the latest example of gun violence in our nation. As a professional organization for all healthcare providers who work with injured children, and with our firm commitment to serve as the voice for the injured child, we are concerned about the increasingly more frequent pain, suffering and death of all, especially innocent children, from the indiscriminate use of firearms.

Traumatic injury remains the leading cause of death for children and adolescents 18 years and under, with firearms accounting for nearly 10,000 injuries and over 2000 deaths annually in the United States. This statistic is unacceptable, and we believe that all professional organizations must stand together in having a louder and stronger voice in making these senseless tragedies stop. We stand by our sister trauma organizations in unifying to address the issue of firearm injury and safety in all populations. Regardless of one's political beliefs or stance on the firearm safety issue, it is time for everyone to come together and stand on common ground to create a safer America for our children. We implore all branches of the government and professional organizations involved to work together to develop effective and acceptable solutions that will reduce injury and mortality from this horrific problem. We must seek common ground and move forward with concrete steps, not just words, and hold our legislative leaders and our executive branch accountable to take steps to keep our children safe. This involves limits on access to assault weapons, universal and thorough background checks for all firearm transactions, limiting access by children to all firearms, including gunlocks and safe storage techniques, and formal legislation limiting children's access to firearms and ensuring that background checks are mandatory, deliberate and thorough.

Gun violence is a national health problem, and as many recent tragic events have demonstrated, can be tied to mental health problems as well. Schools must take the lead in helping to identify students with mental health issues, and in taking steps to intervene, offer counseling, and raise awareness of those who may be potential threats to the safety of their students and school personnel. This needs to be done in a compassionate way, but compassion is not demonstrated by ignoring the problem compassion involves taking action. Warning signs cannot and must not be ignored. We also believe that everyone, including parents, students, neighbors and friends, has a responsibility for taking what is seen on social media more seriously. Suggestions of potential violence cannot be ignored or dismissed, and must be addressed, by our citizens, our politicians and our law enforcement services.

We urge our members to take action -

  • Reach out to your legislative representatives and advocate for improved gun safety legislation including limitations on access to assault and assault-style weapons. Find your members of Congress
  • Commit to asking your patient families about gun access and safety, and in taking steps to educate them.
  • Encourage your patient families to be aware of their children's environments, their friends' environments, and their own activities. Taking steps and making early interventions could have prevented past horrific events, and can certainly prevent future ones. Silence is not kindness.

This is not a time for silence. It is a time for action, for affirmative steps, and for unity in moving forward to reduce gun violence and protect the lives of all, including our precious children. The Pediatric Trauma Society speaks for the injured child, and at this time our voice must be loud and strong.