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Councilmember Robert White Introduces Legislation to Strengthen Gun Violence Prevention Training for Healthcare Providers; Moms Demand Action, Students Demand Action Respond 

March 21, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Washington D.C. chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots network, issued the following statements applauding Councilmember Robert White for introducing a bill to require healthcare providers including doctors, nurses and physician assistants, to receive training on a range of issues related to gun violence prevention. This would include training on: the Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) process, prevention for firearm suicide, intervention for those experiencing domestic violence or mental health struggles, and best practices for discussing firearms access and gun safety with patients, including secure storage. 

“Gun violence is both a public health and a public safety crisis, and we’re grateful to Councilmember White for taking this major step towards addressing it from both perspectives,” said Constance Freeman, a survivor and the chapter lead of the D.C. chapter of Moms Demand Action. “We all have a role to play in keeping our communities safe, especially when it comes to protecting those experiencing suicidal ideation or domestic violence. It’s critical that our healthcare providers are educated on how to use every tool we have at our disposal to keep our communities safe, including the lifesaving Extreme Risk Protection Orders.”

“The firearm suicide rate is increasing and we can’t ignore that it’s growing fastest among my generation,” said Alex Goodale, a volunteer with the Georgetown University Students Demand Action chapter. “Research shows that when someone is struggling with suicidal thoughts, it’s access to a firearm that can make these situations especially deadly. Students like me are normalizing conversations about mental health and it’s time that adults, especially medical professionals, join us. Today’s bill takes another step towards making this possible.” 

Washington D.C., already has some of the strongest gun laws in the country, including an Extreme Risk Law and prohibitions on convicted domestic abusers and abusive dating partners. The next step towards reducing gun violence in D.C. is through the implementation of and education on these critical tools. Physicians and other medical professionals are crucial sources of information about the risk of firearm access, but it is critical that they are sufficiently educated on how to identify patients who are particularly at risk, and how to better treat, counsel, and provide resources or information to their patients is vitally important. By asking their patients about firearm access and counseling them about firearm suicide risk, medical professionals can help prevent these deaths. 

In an average year, 155 people die by guns in the District of Columbia and another 885 are wounded. Gun violence costs the District of Columbia $2.0 billion each year, of which $106.4 million is paid by taxpayers. More information about firearm deaths in the District of Columbia can be found here

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, available 24/7, for confidential assistance from a trained advocate. You can also find more resources on legal assistance in English and Spanish at WomensLaw.org.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call or text 988, or visit 988lifeline.org/chat to chat with a counselor from the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, previously known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline provides 24/7, free, and confidential support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress anywhere in the U.S.

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