Physician Involvement in Promoting Gun Safety

Ann Fam Med. 2020 May;18(3):262-264. doi: 10.1370/afm.2516.


Firearm-related deaths are on the rise in the United States, especially among our youth. Tragically, proper firearm storage and safety could have prevented a great number of these deaths. Professional and public health organizations have thus encouraged physicians to provide direct patient counseling on firearm safety. Yet, even with these recommendations, the majority of physicians are still not talking to their patients about this issue. There may be many reasons for this, including concerns about liability, feeling unprepared, patient discomfort, and lack of time during office visits. Despite these concerns, we argue that physicians have an ethical obligation to discuss firearm safety with their patients. Making these discussions a part of routine clinical care would go a long way in the bipartisan effort to protect public safety and improve public health.

Keywords: counseling; ethics; firearms; physicians.

MeSH terms

  • Counseling / ethics*
  • Counseling / methods
  • Firearms / ethics*
  • Gun Violence / prevention & control*
  • Gun Violence / psychology
  • Humans
  • Patient Safety
  • Physician's Role / psychology*
  • Physicians / ethics
  • Physicians / psychology*
  • United States