Firearm safety is a topic not only being discussed within ACEP but also of interest to other professional societies. At the most recent American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma (ACS COT), a town hall was devoted to this topic, providing a lively open exchange among their members on the role they might play in promoting firearm safety and injury prevention.
Advocating for a public health/trauma system approach to firearm injury prevention seems core to ACS COT’s mission. However, there were two contrasting, strongly held opinions among their members regarding gun ownership: Guns equal freedom and safety, or guns cause limitation of freedom and create violence. These two opinions are mirrored in society and also within ACEP. Many of us have heard this debate in our own Council several times. The ACS COT discussions took a different slant and approach. ACS COT leadership said that organizations want their decisions to be data-driven (and rightly so), but this is often derailed by emotions surrounding a particularly polarizing topic.
Rules of Civility
The goal of the town hall was to provide a forum for a civil, collegial, and professional dialogue toward developing consensus regarding interventions aimed at reducing firearm injuries and deaths. Setting the tone for the upcoming debate, Ronald Stewart, MD, chair of ACS COT, introduced the “conscious” leadership concept, where what a person perceives as facts are sometimes instead just “stories” without a true basis in demonstrable data.1