American Medical Association active on gun issues after Orlando shooting

In the wake of the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, the country’s largest medical association revised its official stance on background checks to include waiting periods for long guns and will actively lobby Congress to fund gun violence research.

The American Medical Association had a longstanding policy to support waiting periods for handgun purchases only, but after the incident in Orlando, the organization voted to expand its policy.

“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,” said Dr. Steven J. Stack, AMA president, in a statement Wednesday.

“The shooting in Orlando is a horrific reminder of the public health crisis of gun violence rippling across the United States,” he added.

The gunman in the incident used an AR-style rifle and a handgun to murder 49 people and injure 53 inside a gay nightclub.

The change comes a day after AMA announced it would actively lobby Congress to lift a measure that bans the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from researching gun violence and treat the issue as a public health crisis.

“An epidemiological analysis of gun violence is vital so physicians and other health providers, law enforcement, and society at large may be able to prevent injury, death and other harms to society resulting from firearms,” Stack said.

He cited familiar statistics regarding gun deaths, more than 30,000 annually in the U.S. comprised of homicides, accidents and suicides.

An attempt to lift the ban on CDC’s gun violence research has been an ongoing issue for gun control advocates. Just days before the June 12 shooting, 146 lawmakers urged leadership in the U.S. House to repeal the longstanding roadblocks for the CDC to research the issue.

In April, a coalition of more than 100 health care, science and research universities and other groups wrote their own open letter to Congress while many of the same Democrats associated with last week’s effort had signed a document last October calling for the same thing.

Pro-gun groups continue to rally against the effort fearing such a study would advance gun control. Although the author of the measure, former Arkansas representative Jay Dickey, proposed it for that same reason, he is now calling for it to be repealed.

Called the Dickey Amendment, the measures were attached to an appropriations bill that called for blocking the CDC research that would “advocate or promote gun control.” Additionally, a lateral defunding has stymied the federal agency in conducting any meaningful and regular research.