Over the past several days I have received multiple e-mails expressing shock and outrage regarding what has now become known as the Valentine’s Day massacre. The most recent in a seemingly endless string of mass shootings occurred last week in a Parkland, Florida High School leaving 17 students and teachers dead and many more injured. The authors of those e-mails ask whether the Society should take an individual position or join other groups such as the American Academy of Pediatrics or American Pediatric Surgical Association supporting legislation and should the Society in some way recognize the march scheduled to occur during the winter meeting. Included are links to position statements by the AAP and APSA.
Each of our more than 3,000 members has a personal position and strong feelings about the issue of gun violence that flows from their experience and background. The Society for Pediatric Anesthesia is a professional organization that represents each of those members and seeks to be the voice of the specialty. Central to our mission is the health and well – being of children. As a Society we are committed not only to the perioperative care of children but also to the advancement of the science that improves the lives of the children and families about whom we care so deeply.
In 1996 congress passed the Dickey amendment, severely limiting the ability of the Center for Disease Control to study gun violence. Regardless of one’s political views or position on the restriction of firearm availability, as scientists and advocates for children, we must come together to seek a more robust understanding of the impact of gun violence on children and families. The deaths of the children of Sandy Hook Elementary, of Columbine High School, of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and the countless other school shootings that occur on an almost weekly basis are first and foremost issues of public health no different than the opioid crisis, smoking, automobile crashes or epidemic infectious disease. Knowledge is fundamental to understanding and understanding is essential to positive change. As physicians and members of a society devoted to the pursuit of knowledge we cannot remain silent in the face of a policy that is contrary to our obligations as physicians, scientists and advocates for children.
To do less represents intellectual dishonesty and a moral failure.
Randall Flick, MD, MPH, FAAP
President, Society for Pediatric Anesthesia