October 16, 2018
Statement: Reduce firearm injuries and death in Canada – Even one is too many.
By the CAGS Acute Care Surgery Committee
The incidence of gun violence in Canadian society has been increasing. Injuries from firearms are often fatal and for victims who survive,injuries are catastrophic and life altering. Canada ranks 3rdamong the G7 and 8thamong the G20 for countries for age adjusted, standardized gun related mortality. Even one victim from this largely preventable cause of injury or death is too many. The status quo is not acceptable.
Firearm related injuries or deaths, whether unintentional or intentional, are a preventable public health problem. Gun related injuries exact a huge cost upon society, beyond the physical and psychological burden of injuries for victims and their families. Gun related incidents erode the fabric of communities.
Research is clear that in countries with stricter gun ownership and safety laws, such as the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan and the Netherlands, injury and mortality from guns are markedly less. Increased access to firearms also results in excess rates of suicide and injury.
We call upon the federal government to address this public health crisis by introducing legislation intended to reduce the prevalence of firearms; and a strategic approach to reduce the illegal sale of guns and the importation of firearms from other jurisdictions.
Due attention and resources must also be leveraged to address issues that intersect with societal determinants of health. These determinants include poverty, mental illness, racial discrimination, lack of opportunity, gangs and criminality. Funding and infrastructure support are required to continue research on the epidemiology of firearm injury and the effectiveness of strategies to reduce firearm related injuries and deaths.
This position statement is endorsed by:
Canadian Association of General Surgeons, Trauma Association of Canada