Concerned with growing public health crisis of guns, doctors launch new campaign to fight for stronger laws
Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns to hold a National Day of Action on April 3rd
Toronto, February 11th, 2019 – Frequently confronted with the devastation wrought by guns on their patients and communities, doctors from across the country are launching a new organization today to advocate for a comprehensive public policy response. Canadian Doctors for the Protection from Guns (CDPG) is specifically calling for swift passage of Bill C-71, An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms, and a ban on handguns and assault weapons.
"It is time to reframe the debate about guns in Canada and look at firearm related injuries and deaths through a public health lens,” said Dr. Najma Ahmed, Co-Chair of Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns and a trauma surgeon at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. “Death and injury by firearms are preventable tragedies. We are calling on policy makers to demonstrate courage and take decisive action to protect the safety of Canadians.”
Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns is a grassroots group composed of family doctors, emergency room physicians, trauma surgeons, and psychiatrists collaborating with nurses, paramedics, rehabilitation specialists, counsellors and many other front-line health care professionals. Its position statement has already been endorsed by seven leading Canadian medical societies and the group has been invited to appear before the Senate’s Standing Committee on National Security and Defence studying Bill C-71 on February 18th at 7:00 pm. On April 3rd, CDPG will hold a National Day of Action in cities, towns, and communities across the country to call for stronger gun control laws
“The impact of guns is not limited to the kinds of violent incidents we learn about in the news,” said Dr. Lynn Wilson, Co-Chair of Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns as well as a family physician and Vice Dean at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine. “Our professional experiences with victims of guns includes operating on children dying from accidental gunshots, holding the hands of domestic violence victims shot by their abusers, and counseling the families of people who have taken their own lives by gun.”
Guns represent a growing public health threat. Statistics Canada reports that firearm-related violent crime has increased 42% since 2013, and Canada has the 5th highest rate of firearm mortality among 23 countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (Annals of Surgery, 2018). Women and girls are particularly vulnerable. Shooting was the most common method of their killing in 2018 at 34% according to the Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability. There is an increased risk of suicide when guns are accessible as noted in a 2018 statement by the Canadian Pediatric Society.
Of course, numbers do not tell the full story.
“The physical and psychological scars on victims, families, and communities far outlast the initial gunshot,” said Jacinthe Lampron, trauma surgeon and Medical Trauma Director at the Ottawa Hospital. “Doctors and nurses treating preventable gun injuries diverts much needed public health resources from other emergency care services. Trauma from gun injuries also results in chronic illness, both physical and psychological.”
Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns has concluded that we must treat gun related injury and death the way we treat other public health issues, such as smoking and road safety. The group looks forward to working with governments, health and legal stakeholders, and all concerned Canadians to respond to this urgent public health crisis.
“We know the pro-gun lobby is going to try and muddy the issue,” added Dr. Alan Drummond, a rural emergency physician in Perth, Ontario. “But our expertise – and our professional responsibility – is in the protection of public health. We are therefore compelled to act.”
The following physicians are available for interview:
Dr. Najma Ahmed, Co-Chair of Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns, and trauma surgeon at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto
Dr. Philip Berger, Associate Professor, Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Toronto
Dr. Jacinthe Lampron, trauma surgeon and Medical Trauma Director at the Ottawa Hospital
Dr. Alan Drummond, rural emergency physician in Perth, Ontario
Dr. Andrew Beckett, trauma surgeon at the Montreal General Hospital
Dr. Natasha Saunders, paediatrician and Clinician-Investigator, at The Hospital for Sick Children Toronto
Dr. Julie Maggi, Psychiatrist, St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto
Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns (CDPG) is a grassroots organization concerned about the increasing public health impact of firearms. We represent physicians working in collaboration with nurses, paramedics, rehabilitation specialists, psychologists, researchers and other front-line health care professionals. We have all witnessed first-hand the emotional and physical trauma and devastation caused by guns. CDPG calls for a comprehensive public policy response to this crisis in our communities, including preventative tools to reduce gun use and their consequences on youth violence, domestic abuse, and suicide.
Please visit www,doctorsforprotectionfromguns.ca for more information.
For more information or to arrange an interview please contact:
Principal, Empower Consulting