The What You Can Do initiative approaches firearm-related injury as a public health problem and believes in the unique position of physicians to help reduce it.

Several major medical and public health associations have made similar statements on firearm violence, citing it as a leading cause of death in the U.S. and a substantial burden on the U.S. economy. Recently, the American College of Physicians released a position paper expanding upon and strengthening its prior policies on firearm violence and reaffirming that "the medical profession has a special responsibility to speak out on prevention of firearm-related injuries and deaths." The American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American College of Surgeons have also issued statements on firearm violence as a public health problem and have set priorities for reducing it.

In February 2019, the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma hosted the inaugural Medical Summit on Firearm Injury Prevention. Attendees included individuals from 42 professional medical and injury prevention organizations and the American Bar Association. The group aimed to find opportunities for apolitical, consensus-based approaches to addressing firearm injury and death while making firearm ownership as safe as possible.

On average in 2017, 109 Americans died by firearm each day.

There were 39,773 deaths by firearm in the U.S. in 2017. Nearly 60% (23,854) of firearm deaths in 2017 were suicides and 37% (14,542) were homicides. An additional 486 firearm deaths in 2017 were unintentional.1

Firearm homicide was the second leading cause of death for persons ages 15-24 years in the U.S. in 2017, and ranked in the top 9 leading causes of death for those ages 1 to 44.

Firearm suicide ranked in the top 9 leading causes of death for those ages 10 to 54 in 2017.

To reduce firearm injury and death, providers should focus on prevention and work to ensure that when firearms are present, patients and their loved ones understand the risk of firearms and take all possible actions for reducing that risk.


  1. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control; 2017.