I was all set to write my column and start giving you the newest information regarding the 2020 Medicare changes from the Center of Medicare Medicaid Services. But after the recent mass murders in El Paso and Dayton, I am at a loss and like a lot of you confused and bewildered by what is happening around our Country.

Some of you reading this will undoubtedly think “Oh no, here comes another liberal rant on guns.” Let me remind you that I am a gun owner and I respect your right to own a gun. But since Monday, I’ve received dozens of emails and texts — all centering around the need for sensible gun control laws. The one that caught my attention the most was an article published Wednesday in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the publication of the American College of Physicians.

“We are living in a world where gun violence is becoming increasingly common, and as physicians, we have a responsibility to address this public health crisis and to keep our patients safe and healthy,” said ACP President Robert McLean, M.D.

In addition to the ACP, the article was authored by the physicians who lead the American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Surgeons, American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association, and the American Public Health Association. Together these six organizations represent more than 700,000 physicians.

When these Medical organizations were lobbying last November for sensible gun laws the National Rifle Association posted a tweet telling doctors to “stay in their lane” on gun control. Thousands of physicians responded that this most definitely was their lane. They noted that with nearly 40,000 firearm-related deaths in 2017, the United States has reached a 20-year high, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If not their lane, then whose.

These are the people who day in and day out witness the horrors of gun violence.

McLean and his six co-authors wrote, “The magnitude and frequency of mass attacks are unacceptable to our organizations. A common-sense approach to reducing casualties in mass shooting situations must effectively address high-capacity magazines and firearms with features designed to increase their rapid and extended killing capacity.”

They also added:

  • Enactment of extreme risk protection order laws, so-called red alert laws, which allow families and law enforcement to petition a judge to temporarily remove firearms from individuals at imminent risk of using them to harm themselves or others.
  • Requiring comprehensive criminal background checks for all firearm purchases, including sales by gun dealers, sales at gun shows, private sales and transfers between individuals with limited exception.

Encouraging research into the causes and consequences of firearm violence and unintentional injuries and deaths to help identify, test and implement strategies to reduce them.

  • Closing the loophole in federal laws that prohibit domestic abusers from accessing firearms to apply to dating partners as well as spouses, prohibiting offenders who have been found guilty of a crime of violence against a family member or intimate partner from purchasing or possessing firearms.
  • Ensuring safe storage of firearms, particularly in homes with children, adolescents, people with dementia, people with substance use disorders, and the small subset of people with serious mental illnesses who are associated with greater risk of harming themselves and others.
  • Improving access to mental health care, but the authors cautioned against broadly including all individuals with a mental health or substance use disorder in a category of individuals prohibited from purchasing firearms.
  • Supporting the ability of physicians to advise their patients on issues that affect their health, including counseling at-risk patients about mitigating the risks associated with firearms in the home and firearm safety.
  • They ended with, “While we recognize the significant political and philosophical differences about firearm ownership and regulation in the United States, we are committed to reaching out to bridge these differences to improve the health and safety of our patients, their families, and communities, while respecting the U.S. Constitution.”

    Sensible gun laws — that’s all we ask.

    My heart aches as I keep driving by flags at half mast and wonder — along with more than 700,000 physicians — when will enough be enough.

    Fred L. Goldenberg is a certified senior advisor (CSA) and the owner of Senior Benefit Solutions, LLC, a financial services and certified health insurance organization in Traverse City. Questions or comments about this column or interest in our monthly Medicare classes can be directed to (231) 922-1010 or fred@srbenefitsolutions.com

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