MPS Signs Amicus Brief for Gun Safety Education

This month started with the tragic death of two people and wounding of 28 others in a mass shooting at a block party in Baltimore. Half of the victims were under the age of 18. Homicides by firearm continue to be rampant in central Maryland and more than half of firearm deaths are deaths by suicide, a crisis that psychiatrists often work to prevent and manage. According to the Pew Research Center, the rates of gun deaths in the U.S. increased after the pandemic, especially among children and adolescents whose firearms deaths rose by 50% from 2019 to 2021, surpassing car accidents as a cause of injury. As psychiatrists, we are highly aware of the risks of firearms in the home, not only when children are present, but also when people are in crisis, at risk for aggression, or contemplating dying by suicide. Limiting access to lethal means for those in crisis and providing education about firearm risks is lifesaving.

In 2022, the Anne Arundel County Council passed an ordinance requiring that gun stores hand out information pamphlets about suicide risk factors and non-violent conflict resolution. While the ordinance was supported by the National Shooting Sports Foundation and the firearms trade association, both of which approved the pamphlet, it has been challenged by gun rights organizations. This is the first case on this topic in which a federal court of appeals is being asked to address a challenge to disclosures for gun sales. In response, Michael Dell and colleagues at Kramer Levin Naftalis and Frankel LLP prepared an Amicus Brief on behalf of several medical associations, which the MPS Council voted to support as a public health intervention.  In addition to the MPS, the American Medical Association, MedChi, the American Academy of Pediatrics and its Maryland Chapter, and the Washington Psychiatric Society signed on.