In 2010, there were 31,000 people killed in gun violence in some way, "homicides, suicides, or accidents," he adds. "You've got an enormous number not in mass killings."
For those whose mental illness is a contributing factor in their decision to shoot people, the system that could help them, if they seek help, is severely strained, Lazarus says. "A lot of family physicians treat patients with depression and anxiety disorders, but those with severe mental illness put a severe strain on the system."
One of the most concrete things the AMA is doing regarding gun control, is attempting to protect the "doctor-patient relationship to assure that physicians can discuss firearm safety with parents and adults." The AMA last month filed a friend-of-the-court brief opposing the state of Florida's attempt to revive a law preventing doctors from asking patients and families about guns in the home.
"Questions about home firearm possession should be and are a routine part of the patient history inquiries that physicians ask of their patients, usually conducted near the onset of the relationship as part of the general assessment of everyday risks, " the AMA said in court papers.
"If the governor prevails, this could have a chilling effect on doctors asking about guns in the home and gun safety," Lazarus says. "Other states might consider the same which would be terrible from our point of view. We feel strongly that physicians shouldn't be gagged in any way from talking to their patients about things that would be important to their health," he adds.