Doctors group calls for background checks on all gun buyers

Doctors group calls for background checks on all gun buyers
© Getty Images

The American Medical Association (AMA) voted Wednesday to support waiting periods and background checks for all firearm purchasers.

It’s the latest move from the powerful doctors group to jump forcefully into the nation’s gun debate following the mass shooting in Orlando Sunday, when 49 people were killed.

The organization had previously backed waits and background checks for handgun owners dating back to the 1980s. But the doctors group argued that was too limited to address the epidemic of mass shootings.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Mass killers have used AR-15s, rifles and handguns, and today we strengthened our policy on background checks and waiting periods to cover them all with the goal of keeping lethal weapons out of the hands of dangerous people,” Dr. Steven J. Stack, a former president of the group, said.

The decision was taken at the group’s annual meeting, where doctors the day before also voted to declare gun violence a “public health crisis.”

Efforts to pass background check legislation face an uphill climb in the Republican-controlled Congress, though.

The last major legislative effort to expand background checks, led by Sens. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinPoll: McConnell is most unpopular senator Dems open to killing filibuster in next Congress Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand MORE (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) in 2013 following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., fell short of the 60 votes needed to advance in the face of opposition from the nation’s top gun lobby, the National Rifle Association.

Sen. Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTop Democrats demand security assessment of Trump properties Lawmakers pay tribute to late Justice Stevens Trump administration denies temporary immigrant status to Venezuelans in US MORE (D-N.Y.) introduced a universal background checks bill in May, under pressure from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. But that Democratic bill is unlikely to get a vote this year.

The AMA also plans to push Congress to roll back legislation that has banned the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from researching gun violence since 1996. Critics say that has had a widespread effect, preventing any federal gun violence research.

Other groups have previously called for lifting the ban. In 2015, 68 other medical and public health organizations called on the federal government to allow funding for gun research.

Supporters said that research is critical to passing effective gun laws.

“I don’t know how many people have passed background checks and then gone on to participate in gun violence,” Dr. Michael E. Greene, a Georgia delegate to the AMA’s annual meeting, told the Macon Telegraph. “I don’t think anybody right now has any idea.”