American Academy of Pediatrics Calls for Federal Assault Weapons Ban, Improved Mental Health Care for Adolescents

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Thomas K. McInerny, on behalf of the more than 60,000 members of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), called for federal legislation banning the sale of assault weapons in the United States, in a letter addressed to President Barack Obama shortly after last month’s Newtown, Conn. tragic school shooting. 

In the letter, McInerny goes on to call for outlawing high capacity magazines, as well as “strengthening” mandatory waiting periods and background checks for gun purchases. He also urges lawmakers to make the wellbeing and safety of children the “primary national focus” regarding the nation’s firearm laws.

McInerny also believes that, in the wake of the Dec. 14 shootings, improving mental health care for young people also factors prominently in reducing the number of gun-related deaths in the nation. 

“The federal government must take action to improve access to services that meet the mental health and developmental needs of infants, children and adolescents and ensures that children and families exposed to violence have access to a medical home and other community supports,” the letter reads. “We must engage in a national dialogue designed to reduce children’s detrimental exposure to violence in their communities, environments and entertainment.”

Last week, McInerny spoke with the White House Task Force on Gun Violence in Washington, D.C. A subsequent AAP press release said the organization pledged to continuing working with the White House and other policymakers “to assure that all children are safe and feel safe in their homes, in schools and within their communities.”