HomeAboutNewsroom ▶ American Thoracic Society Urges Swift Adoption of Gun Laws, Lays Out Recommendations for More
American Thoracic Society Urges Swift Adoption of Gun Laws, Lays Out Recommendations for More

June 14, 2022 – After people took to the streets across the U.S. this past weekend to protest the recent rash of mass shootings, there was good news out of Washington, DC:  news of an agreement in the Senate spelled progress on gun regulation. Speaking on behalf of the American Thoracic Society, ATS President Gregory Downey, MD, ATSF, issued the following statement today:

“As President of the American Thoracic Society, I am encouraged that the Senate has reached a tentative agreement on legislation to reduce gun violence. 

As pulmonologists and critical care physicians, members of the American Thoracic Society see the death and destruction caused by gun violence.  Our members working in ICUs across the country work to save the lives of gunshot victims.  As ICU physicians, we have too often seen just how much damage a bullet can do to the body, whether that of an adult or child.

“We must take steps to reduce gun violence in America.

“According to press reports, the Senate agreement would give states incentives to enact strong ‘red-flag’ laws to remove firearms for potentially dangerous people, including mandatory juvenile background checks for people between the age of 18-21 seeking to purchase firearms, and addressing the ‘boyfriend loophole’ to prevent all people convicted of domestic violence – not just spouses – from owning firearms.  These are concrete policy steps that have bipartisan support.  We encourage Congress and the President to quickly enact and implement these policies.

“But it’s not enough. Congress must take further steps to address gun violence including:

  • Assault weapons ban or at least raising the purchase age for assault weapons to 21.
  • Limiting Firearms with Features Designed to Increase Their Rapid and Extended Killing Capacity:  A common-sense approach to reducing casualties in mass shooting situations must effectively address high-capacity magazines and firearms with features designed to increase their rapid and extended killing capacity. 
  • Background Checks on All Gun Purchases: Comprehensive criminal background checks for all firearm purchases, including sales by gun dealers, sales at gun shows, private sales, and transfers between individuals with limited exceptions should be required. Current federal laws require background checks for purchases from retail firearm sellers (Federal Firearms License holders); however, purchases from private sellers and transfer of firearms between private individuals do not require background checks.
  • Research on Firearm Injury and Death:  Research to help us better understand the causes and consequences of firearm-related injury and death and to identify, test, and implement strategies to reduce these events is important.
  • Safe Storage of Firearms:  Safe storage is essential to reducing the risk for unintentional or intentional injuries or deaths from firearms, particularly in homes with children, adolescents, people with dementia, people with substance use disorders, and the small subset of people with serious mental illnesses that are associated with greater risk of harming themselves and/or others.
  • Physician Gag Rules:  Physicians can and must be able to advise their patients on issues that affect their health, including counseling at-risk patients about mitigating the risks associated with firearms in the home and firearms safety.


“While I am encouraged by the tentative progress reached by bipartisan Senate negotiations and urge its swift adoption, I will continue to push for a more common-sense gun violence prevention policy.”