Emergency Nurses Association Statement on Gun Violence Epidemic
September 3, 2019
Emergency nurses across the country treat victims of gunshot wounds every single day. No matter the number of patients or the circumstances behind the situation that brought them into the emergency department, nurses and their health care counterparts work tirelessly to care for those injured by a firearm.
Although we, as emergency nurses, rely on our skills and experience to come up with the right clinical answers to handle such physical trauma, there are questions we – like so many others – struggle with when it comes to the epidemic of gun violence: Why are some people so intent on harming others? What can be done to reduce the frequency and severity of such violence in our communities?
ENA recognizes the challenges that come with this search for answers. As the voice of emergency nurses, ENA also understands that we are looked to by our members and the health care community for professional guidance and leadership on the issues that impact our work. While much must be done by many to find solutions, ENA continues to be active in the conversation amid this public health crisis by:
- Supporting the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 which would require a background check for legal sales or transfers of firearms. This legislation, which passed the House in February, would move to effectively close the so-called gun-show loophole that allows for the transfer of firearms between individuals without a background check.
- Updating its Firearm Safety and Injury Prevention position statement earlier this year. The statement calls for the use of screening tools to assist in the identification of individuals at high risk for death or injury caused by a firearm; urges the lifting of restrictions on research into firearm-related deaths and funding for such research; requests an extension of the National Violent Death Reporting System to include all U.S. states and territories; and backs the implementation of technology to make firearms safer, as well as to promote the distribution of existing safety devices to firearms owners.
- Identifying through research the critical need for better education of emergency nurses on the importance of assessing patients for firearms in the home in order to implement proper mitigating interventions with those at risk for firearm-related injury or death.
- Partnering with The American Foundation for Firearm Injury Reduction in Medicine on its mission to support firearm violence research that informs protocols for everyone working on the front lines of health care, develop innovative solutions that connect our network to other first responders and stakeholders, and create education and information for health care professionals and the public.
Whether it is gun violence on a neighborhood street or the senseless loss of innocent lives in a mass shooting, we should all be able to agree that it is time to take the steps necessary to reduce the number of people being brought to an emergency department because of firearm-related injuries.
This is an injury prevention issue. This is a community issue. This is an issue ENA mindfully considers because of its impact on the emergency nursing family and society as a whole. ENA will continue to speak – and encourages you to do the same in your communities – in support of those who see and respond to the horrors caused by gun violence, while staying committed to doing what is right to change the tide of this epidemic.
Patti Kunz Howard, PhD, RN, CEN, CPEN, TCRN, NE-BC, FAEN, FAAN
2019 ENA President