But Dr. David Barbe, whose one-year term as AMA president ended Tuesday, called the number of related measures on this year’s agenda extraordinary and said recent violence, including the Parkland, Florida, school shooting and the Las Vegas massacre, “spurred a new sense of urgency … while Congress fails to act.”
“It has been frustrating that we have seen so little action from either state or federal legislators,” he said. “The most important audience for our message right now is our legislators, and second most important is the public, because sometimes it requires public pressure on the legislators.”
While it is no longer viewed as the unified voice of American medicine, the AMA has more clout with politicians and the public than other doctor groups. It counted more than 243,000 members in 2017, up slightly for the seventh straight year. But it represents less than one-quarter of the nation’s million-plus physicians.
The National Rifle Association didn’t immediately respond to email and phone requests for comment on the doctors’ votes.
AMA members cited U.S. government data showing almost 40,000 deaths by gun in 2016, including suicides, and nearly 111,000 gun injuries. Both have been rising in recent years.
By comparison, U.S. deaths from diabetes in 2016 totaled almost 80,000; Alzheimer’s, 111,000; and lung disease, 155,000. The leaders are heart disease, with 634,000 deaths in 2016, and cancer, about 600,000.