Washington, DC, June 6, 2022 – The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) calls on Congress to pass legislation that safeguards our children, families, and communities from gun-related violence and address America’s mental health crisis.
It is difficult to predict gun violence in youth and the incidence of youth gun violence against others is exceedingly low. Tragically, the incidence of children using guns for self-harm is on the rise. Research clearly demonstrates the connection between firearm availability and child and adolescent fatalities. Reducing the presence of guns in homes and communities is an effective, immediate strategy for reducing gun-related youth morbidity and mortality including death by suicide. Continued research on youth at risk for behavioral disorders and/or those exposed to other risk factors associated with youth violence against themselves or others is urgently needed. Greater investment in prevention and early intervention services for youth can decrease youth violence.
AACAP is eager to work with Congress to enact policies that protect our communities without stigmatizing people with mental illness. This includes promoting education about and research on gun safety and the prevention of gun-related violence; increasing safety measures related to the purchase, ownership, and storage of firearms; and supporting physicians’ ability to counsel their patients and families about firearm safety. Additionally, AACAP strongly urges Congress to remain committed to addressing America’s pediatric mental health crisis, with a particular focus on driving down the rates of youth suicide in our nation.