On Wednesday, the American Medical Association approved an expansive list of “common-sense” demands for new gun control measures, including proposals to ban the sale and possession of “all assault-type weapons, bump stocks and related devices, high-capacity magazines, and armor piercing bullets.” These gun control guidelines were approved by the AMA’s House of Delegates, a forum of the medical organization’s member physicians that meets twice a year to vote on medical and political policy recommendations.
The lengthy list of gun policy changes also includes bans on the sale of firearms and ammunition to those under 21 years of age, prohibitions on the ownership and unsupervised use of firearms by those under 21, and the establishment of a national gun registry for all firearms and a gun licensing system for gun owners.
Additionally, the AMA’s list of gun control proposals contains several measures that are reportedly intended to combat domestic violence, including a proposition to create a new legal procedure by which “family members, intimate partners, household members and law enforcement personnel” can petition courts to confiscate firearms from people “when there is a high or imminent risk for violence.” Based on the AMA’s official blog post about their gun control proposals, this gun confiscation procedure does not appear to involve typical due process legal rights where the gun owner in question can defend himself or herself in court, nor is there any explicit definition for how “risk for violence” would be determined by a judge, leaving open the possibility that people without criminal convictions could be subject to having their guns taken away.
This problem with definitions also extends to the AMA’s core proposals, especially its calls for confiscating “high-capacity magazines” and “armor piercing bullets.” Although high-capacity magazines are typically thought of as those that can hold more than ten rounds, the NY SAFE Act, which was passed in 2013 after the Sandy Hook school shooting, defined high capacity magazines as those that can hold more than seven rounds and banned their sale.
More worryingly, because there is no definition of what qualifies as an “armor piercing bullet,” the AMA’s proposals can be reasonably interpreted as a call for banning practically every type of rifle ammunition in existence given that (with the exception of extremely small calibers like .22 LR) almost all rifle rounds can pierce Kevlar-based body armor, the standard type of ballistic protection used by law enforcement agencies worldwide. Thus, if Congress or any other legislative body actually followed through on the AMA’s vague proposal, everything from smaller rifle calibers like .223 and .243 Winchester all the way through other common hunting rifle rounds like .270 Win., .30-06, .308 Win., or .444 Marlin could be banned and confiscated en-masse by the government.
According to the AMA’s official blog post about their gun control proposals, AMA Immediate Past President David O. Barbe was ecstatic about the House of Delegates’ approved list of gun confiscation measures, lauding them as necessary steps to combat the “public health crisis” of gun violence in the United States:
“People are dying of gun violence in our homes, churches, schools, on street corners and at public gatherings, and it’s important that lawmakers, policy leaders and advocates on all sides seek common ground to address this public health crisis,” said AMA Immediate Past President David O. Barbe, MD, MHA. “In emergency rooms across the country, the carnage of gun violence has become a too routine experience.
“Every day,” Dr. Barbe added, “physicians are treating suicide victims, victims of domestic partner violence, and men and women simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. It doesn’t have to be this way, and we urge lawmakers to act.”