EAST Firearm Injury Prevention Statement Released December 2018

Firearm injury care and prevention are core components of our clinical practices at home and our organizational goals in the Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma (EAST). In response to the unrelenting cadence of this preventable injury pattern and its associated media coverage, numerous major professional organizations have published position statements and proposed strategic initiatives to reduce the incidence of firearm injury.

In 1995, EAST published an organizational statement on firearm injury in the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery - Violence in America: A Public Health Crisis--The Role of FirearmsFebruary 1995 - Volume 38 - Issue 2 - p 163-168. Members of the EAST Violence Prevention Task Force, Chaired by Dr. C. William Schwab, assembled a Position Paper Committee led by Dr. Eric Frykberg. The Committee members examined the magnitude of firearm injury as a health problem, discussed the role of firearms in violence, assessed the cost of firearm injury, and acknowledged the argument against firearm regulation. Not every person will agree with every point of this 1995 statement, but we must acknowledge that is was written by our trauma provider peers based upon the dramatic increase in civilian firearm injury occurring at the time and available scientific evidence.

In 2018, based upon current scientific evidence and public policy, the EAST Firearm Injury Prevention Task Force chaired by Dr. Marie Crandall and the EAST Injury Control and Violence Prevention Committee chaired by Dr. Joseph Sakran drafted an updated EAST Firearm Injury Prevention Statement. The statement was approved by the EAST Board of Directors on September 26, 2018. The 2018 statement was published by the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery in the January 2019 - Volume 86 - Issue 1 - p 168–170 

Andrew C. Bernard, MD, FACS
2018 EAST President

The EAST Board of Directors recognizes the EAST Firearm Injury Prevention Task Force for their work on this statement.

Firearm violence is a public health crisis of epidemic proportions. Over 30 000 Americans die from gunshot wounds every year, and countless others are injured.

Surgeons and trauma care providers are a diverse group, encompassing a wide range of ages, all sexes, all races and ethnicities, and differing political beliefs. At the Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma (EAST), we feel that our current efforts to reduce firearm-related injuries and violence are insufficient. EAST believes that saving individual lives without addressing the underpinnings of violence and the obvious vector, firearms, is contributing to the ongoing suffering.

Therefore, as an organization of providers who care for the patient with injuries, and specifically victims of firearm injury, we are committed to the health and safety of our patients and their communities. EAST makes the following statement:

Firearm-related injury and death are a complex public health problem.

  • EAST supports evidence-based strategies to reduce firearm injuries including the following:

  • Federal funding of firearm-related research to inform solutions.

  • Violence and injury prevention programs that address conflict resolution.

  • Programs that teach non-violent conflict resolution, coping strategies, and anger management.

  • Improved access and quality of mental health services.

  • Recognition of the other factors that affect these issues including structural violence, domestic violence, and mental health.

  • Limited access to firearms through mandatory safe storage (keeping guns unloaded in a safe with ammunition stored in a separate locked device), gun locks, trigger locks, and other safe storage practices.

  • Expanded universal background checks to include all firearms sales in any venue.

  • Mandatory waiting periods and universal background checks for acquisition of firearms.

  • Limited civilian access to highly lethal firearms and firearm accessories, such as high velocity rifles, high-capacity magazines, trigger cranks, and bump stocks.

  • Limited dissemination of technology to enhance lethality or bypass standard safety and/or screening (eg, three-dimensional printing firearms).

We hope you will join EAST to develop non-partisan and evidence-based solutions for our patients. Standing by and becoming increasingly numb to the rising injury and death toll being witnessed across this country is not an option. Please stand with EAST to affect change.