This month, the Vermont chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) sent a letter to members of the Vermont legislature, executive leadership, and our US senators and representative, calling for specific action to prevent gun violence in the wake of tragedies like the Sandy Hook school shooting last December. The effort was led by Vermont AAP President Louis DiNicola, MD, FAAP and UVM and Fletcher Allen pediatrician Eliot Nelson. The letter acknowledges the legitimate use of firearms for many Vermont citizens but urges our government officials to enact tougher measures to decrease the chances of future horrific events. Specific measures include the following.
- Better background checks without loopholes
- Holding gun owners responsible for recklessly stored firearms
- Limiting access to assault-style weapons and high capacity magazines
- Tougher gun trafficking laws
- Removal of federal restrictions that impede firearm injury research
- Improved mental health care and identification of those with “specific” conditions that would make owning guns unsafe
- Increased education and research about the root causes of violence
Over 90 pediatricians signed the letter, and an enthusiastic response of support was sent by Senator Leahy. According to Dr. DiNicola, however, Governor Shumlin “remained committed to his desire to wait to do anything in Vermont until the federal government acts on this issue.”
While the Vermont legislature is now out of session, the AAP encourages continued advocacy on this issue to our local and national leaders so that another year does not pass without effective measures being undertaken.