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Paediatricians seeks end to gun violence epidemic as a public health crisis

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Paediatricians are giving out free gun locks to approach the gun violence epidemic as a public health crisis in the United States of America.
In a triage waiting room of St. Louis Children’s Hospital in Missouri, a clear basket filled with gun locks sits near the walkway, just noticeable enough to those passing by.The hospital staff calls it the “No Questions Asked” basket, to encourage gun safety without having to confront gun owners about what can be a sensitive and divisive topic. It holds an assortment of cable gun locks free of charge, available to those who need them, alongside pamphlets explaining how to properly and safely store firearms.

The initiative, according to the Cable News Network, aimed at reducing the stigma of addressing gun safety, is part of a growing effort by medical professionals who are treating the country’s gun violence epidemic as a public health crisis.

A professor of paediatrics at the Medical University of South Carolina and an expert on gun violence prevention, Dr. Annie Andrews, said, “It takes standing at the bedside of one child who has been shot to realise that we all have to do more and as the leading cause of death for children in this country, paediatricians need to be front and centre of the solution, of all the solutions.”
A paediatric emergency medicine physician at the hospital, Dr. Lindsay Clukies, said over the course of two years, thousands of gun locks have been taken from the basket.
Clukies said in the coming weeks, baskets filled with free gun locks will be available at more than 17 locations operated by BJC HealthCare, an organisation serving metro St. Louis, mid-Missouri and Southern Illinois.
He said it is a low-cost and effective way to easily distribute firearm safety devices.
Clukies told CNN that, “We’ve had employees as well as patients take our locks, also their families and even a grandmother who took one for her grandson. It’s for anyone who needs them.”

In recent years, a rising number of pediatricians in the United States of America have been engaging with the topic of gun safety in medical settings by focusing on safety and prevention, already a natural aspect of their work.

During patient visits, it’s increasingly common for paediatricians to ask the patient’s parents if there are guns at home, and if so, how they are stored. Some hospitals then offer free gun locks, often sourced from donations or police departments and paired with safe storage education.

In 2022, 1,672 children and teenagers under 17 were killed by gun violence and 4,476 were injured, according to the Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit organisation tracking injuries and deaths by gunfire since 2014.

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