This is an op-ed submitted by a group of local pediatricians regarding gun violence. It was not written by The Ithaca Voice. To submit op-eds, please send them to Matt Butler at mbutler@ithacavoice.com.

To our elected officials at all levels of government,

We, the undersigned pediatric medical and mental health providers of Ithaca, are writing to express both our sadness regarding the continued public health threat of gun violence and our optimism that with effective leadership, progress against this constant catastrophe can be made. As pointed out in a 2019 call to action by this nation’s leading physician and public health professional organizations, we can not idly tolerate the approximately 40,000 firearm deaths that occur in this country every year. Nor should we accept that our firearm-related mortality rate is the highest amongst all wealthy countries of the world. The current status quo is not only unacceptable, it is worsening. Firearm-related deaths have been increasing sharply year to year since 2014. We are particularly alarmed that in 2020, for the first time, firearm injuries, according to a recent paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine, overtook motor vehicle accidents as the leading cause of death amongst those aged 19 or younger. 

We remain hopeful that as an American community, we can take essential steps towards implementing evidence-based strategies to save lives. More specifically, we implore you to strongly support the framework as laid out by the American Academy of Pediatrics which calls for: 1) Increased funding for research into gun violence prevention; 2) support for effective violence prevention and resiliency building programs for at-risk youth; and 3) enactment of reasonable firearm legislation, building on that recently passed by Congress, largely aimed at keeping guns out of the hands of those at highest risk of using them on themselves or others. This includes strengthening of background checks as well as support for “extreme risk protection order” laws already enacted by a minority of states, including New York.

We further join the American Pediatric Surgical Association in their recent statement urging action towards a federal ban on military-style firearms, already introduced into Congress as the “Assault Weapons Ban of 2021.” 

Every single one of the 110 Americans lost daily from firearms is a preventable tragedy. Through thoughtful action, we can both respect the rights of responsible gun owners and save lives. We respectfully demand your support for efforts to address this public health crisis in a way that the children of this and all other American communities deserve.      

Signed,

  • Northeast Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine
  • Wellbeing Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine
  • Family and Children’s Service of Ithaca
  • Dermatology Associates of Ithaca
  • MindWell Center
  • Ramesh Vidavalur, MD 
  • Srisatish Devapatla, MD
  • Melissa Dhundale, MD
  • Stephanie Bates, DO
  • Marguerite Uphoff, MD
  • Jeffrey Snedeker, MD