Mass Shooting Doesn't Sway AMA Gun Owners

Not even the worst mass murder in US history was enough to unify AMA delegates on the topic of gun control. The group is debating whether to endorse tighter measures.

Just hours after a gunman used an assault rifle to kill 50 people and wounded 53 more at a nightclub in Orlando, FL, American Medical Association delegates continued to be split on whether to endorse stronger gun control laws. The resolution would call for extending existing controls on handguns to all firearms.

Though many delegates attending the annual AMA House of Delegates meeting in Chicago, IL, (Photo above left) spoke in favor of resolutions endorsing an AMA Board of Trustees report calling for stricter background checks and waiting periods for gun purchase, others were adamantly opposed.

“This is an extremely divisive issue,” said Robert Hughes, MD, a delegate from New York.

He said that as at the AMA struggles to increase membership, taking a stand against guns could cause many current members to reconsider membership and hamper efforts to recruit new ones.

A delegate from Texas echoed the sentiments, saying, “Education is the key” to firearms safety.

The debate drew a standing room only crowd.

Delegates were also split on whether the board’s proposal to require people who acquire firearms from family members, such as those passed down as part of legacies, to register them.

But most who spoke at a committee meeting this morning appeared to agree with a delegate from Maine who, speaking as an individual, said “Every day is a good day to do the right thing,” in this case endorsing stricter controls on the sale and ownership of firearms.

The nightclub shooting is believed to be the worst mass shooting in US history.

It happened at gay nightclub called Pulse at 2 am. Police killed the gunman.

Florida was also the scene of a high-profile nightclub gun murder on Friday. A gunman with two handguns, several loaded magazines and a large hunting knife shot killed singer Christina Grimmie, a former cast member of the TV reality singing competition “The Voice.” She was shot as she left the stage after her performance. Her killer was shot in a struggle as Grimmie’s brother immediately tackled the assailant, a 27-year-old man from St. Petersburg, FL.

The resolution being debated at the AMA combined several proposals, that build on existing AMA policy on preventing firearm violence.

The trustees’ report was informational, detailing aspects of federal law and states’ policies. In conclusion, however, the board recommended that existing policy be modified to encourage legislation that that enforces a waiting period and background checks for all purchasers of handguns “and extend such policy to all firearm purchases.”

The American Psychiatric Association adopted a similar resolution recently, the trustees noted.

The AMA trustees report also supported urging legislators to “prohibit the manufacture, sale or import of lethal and non-lethal guns made of plastic, ceramics, or other non-metallic materials that cannot be detected by airport and weapon detection devices.”