AFTA’s Position on Gun Violence

In December, 2012, a young man armed with an assault rifle walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and fatally shot 20 young children, six adults, and himself.

In June of 2015, 9 African Americans were shot to death by a white supremacist during a prayer service at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, North Carolina.

One year later, a man opened fire on members of the LatinX and LGBTQ community gathered outside a club in Orlando, Florida, killing 49 young people and wounding 58 others before being shot and killed by police.

In October of 2017, 58 people were fatally shot and 851 injured by a man who opened fire on a crowd of concertgoers in Las Vegas, Nevada before turning a gun on himself.

The following month, a gunman shot and killed 26 people gathered for worship at the First Baptist Church in Southerland Springs, North Carolina, injuring another 20.

In February of 2018, an armed teenager entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida and fatally shot 14 children and 3 adults.

The United States hosted an additional 1,600 mass shootings over these five years, resulting in the deaths of almost 2,000 people. While these tragedies have captured warranted public attention, mass shootings in fact yield only a modest share of gun-related deaths in the U.S.. According the the Brady Center, in this same period of time more than 175,000 Americans were killed by guns, about 14,000 of whom were children under the age of 19.

The only change Congress made to the nation’s gun laws in these 6 years was the renewal of an expiring ban on plastic firearms.

As family clinicians, researchers, and academics who work with families and communities, AFTA is compelled to join the chorus of voices calling to our government, “Enough is enough.” We grieve with the families that have lost members to acts of gun violence.

As a community of systemic thinkers, AFTA rejects the notion that the prevalence of gun violence in this country is the result of discrete actions taken by “lone wolves,” “bad apples,” or “disturbed individuals,” but rather, sees the problem of gun violence as a systemically driven one requiring responses untethered from politics and commerce.

As a cohort of mental health practitioners, researchers and educators focused on relationships - those between people, between people and community, between people, community and systems of oppression - AFTA rebukes our governments’ inaction in response to the prevalence of gun violence and calls for the President and Congress to declare gun violence a Public Health Crisis, lift the decades old legislation currently crippling gun violence research, and develop systemically considered policy that protects the interests of their constituents over those of political parties and gun lobbies.

AFTA encourages our membership to take action in protest of gun violence:

Stand with students and their families in opposition to gun violence and the abdication of our elected officials by joining the March for Our Lives on March 24.

Join AFTA in individually signing on to the Call for Action to Prevent Gun Violence in The United States of America initiated by the Interdisciplinary Group on Preventing School and Community Violence:.

Support U.S. Companies that are taking a stand against gun violence:

Call your Congressperson and ask them to address gun violence as a public health issue:

Sarah Berland, LCSW
Family Policy and Human Rights Chair

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