Berman Successfully Advocates for Nearly $4M in State Budget for Gun Violence Prevention

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO – Today Assemblymember Marc Berman (D-Palo Alto) released the following statement in response to securing $3.85 million in the California State Budget for the UC Davis Firearm Violence Research Center to create gun violence prevention training programs for health care providers:

“In hospitals across the state, doctors are too frequently confronted by the tragic consequences of gun violence,” said Assemblymember Berman. “Now, we are enabling them to help prevent gun violence in the first place. The #ThisIsOurLane movement made it clear that there is strong support among health care providers to do more when it comes to preventing gun violence, and they are uniquely positioned to do so. While providing routine patient care, physicians, psychiatrists and psychologists, nurses, social workers, and other therapists have opportunities to assess patients for risk, provide counseling, and intervene when emergencies arise. This funding is critically important to ensure that the medical community has the education and training needed to help curb gun violence before tragedies unfold.”

Assemblymember Berman advocated for the funding noting California’s high rate of firearm-related death and injury. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that there were 3,184 gun-related deaths in California in 2017.

Earlier this year, Assemblymember Berman introduced legislation, Assembly Bill 521, calling on the Center to establish multifaceted education and training programs to teach both medical and mental health providers how to counsel patients about firearm safety and what to do when patients pose a threat to themselves or others. The bill is currently pending in the Senate Public Safety Committee, and if signed, would provide guidance to the Center as to how to use the funding. 

In October 2018, the American College of Physicians issued new recommendations for physicians to help reduce firearm violence, encouraging them to “discuss with their patients the risks that may be associated with having a firearm in the home and recommend ways to mitigate such risks.” In response, the National Rifle Association tweeted they should “stay in their lane,” which sparked outcry from physicians and surgeons who responded by sharing their own experiences treating patients in the aftermath of firearm-related violence.

While many health care providers recognize their obligation to help prevent firearm-related death and injury, many cite lack of knowledge as the principal barrier to action.

In a position statement on firearm-violence prevention, the California Medical Association stated that, “expanded education and training are needed to improve clinician familiarity with the benefits and risks of firearm ownership, safety practices, and communication with patients about firearm violence.”

“Medical professionals know that appropriate discussions of firearm safety can help prevent firearm-related death and injury, and that such discussions are well within their scope of practice,” said Dr. Garen Wintemute, director of the UC Davis Firearm Violence Research Center. “This initiative will provide them with the knowledge, skills, and resources they need to help protect the health and safety of their patients and communities.”

In 2016, the Legislature authorized and appropriated funding for the University of California to establish a Firearm Violence Research Center. Since then, UC Davis has assembled a team of experts in firearm-related death and injury, specifically in provider and patient education to prevent firearm-related harm.

 

Contact: Kaitlin Curry, (916) 319-2024