Whether in a mass shooting, urban violence, self-harm, or intimate partner violence, the damage caused by firearms is something emergency nurses know firsthand – they see it and experience their trauma every day while simply trying to save the lives of those injured by a firearm.
As the leading voice for emergency nurses, the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) has a vested interest in the impact of firearms violence because of its direct relationship to injury prevention, patient care, and the health and well-being of the nurses who repeatedly experience trauma while caring for victims of gun violence.
ENA released its strongest firearms safety-related position statement in the association’s 53-year history. It calls for, among other things:
- A ban on assault weapons, as defined by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms
- Raising the minimum purchase age to 21 for all firearms.
- Establishing a federal prohibition on ghost guns and their components.
- Implementation of emergency department screening tools to help identify individuals at high risk of death or injury from a firearm.
- Measures to support more consistent firearms research and data collection.
- Providing healthcare workers with resources to educate patients about firearm safety and injury prevention.
- Collaboration with and support of evidence-based school or community programs focused on firearm injury prevention.
“The true toll of the gun violence epidemic in this country goes deeper than the headlines we see on a weekly, sometimes daily, basis,” says ENA President Terry Foster, MSN, RN, CEN, CPEN, CCRN, TCRN, FAEN. “Mass shootings and frequent gun violence in many cities across the country get more attention, but emergency nurses understand firearm injuries and deaths attributed to domestic violence, suicides, and accidental discharges are also a devastating part of this public health crisis.”
A 2022 Pew Research Report indicates the rate of gun deaths among Americans reached its highest level – 10.6 per 100,000 people – in 2020. Further, the Kaiser Family Foundation reported in 2022 that firearms are the leading cause of death for U.S. children.
“This updated, evidence-based position statement reflects ENA’s evolving perspectives on the multi-faceted issue of firearms, and it sends a clear message that more must be done to reduce the frequency and severity of firearm injuries and deaths,” Foster adds.