American College of Surgeons speaks out after 2 surgeons killed in mass shooting at outpatient surgery center building

The American College of Surgeons held a June 2 press conference to discuss the gun violence crisis, less than a day after a spine patient shot and killed his surgeon and three others in a Tulsa, Okla., building that housed an ASC.

Orthopedic surgeon Stephanie Husen, DO, was killed along with Preston Phillips, MD, who operated on the shooter's back on May 19, the Tulsa World reported June 2. A receptionist, Amanda Glenn, and staffer William Love were also killed in the building, which houses the Ambulatory Surgery Center at Saint Francis.

The shooter purchased an AR-15-style rifle from a local retailer about one hour before the shooting, the report said. He purchased a .40-caliber pistol from a local pawn shop two days prior.

The ACS press conference was set up after the May 24 Uvalde, Texas, elementary school shooting that left 19 children and one teacher dead.

"[Gun injury] treatment programs are not enough," former ACS medical director for trauma programs Ronald Stewart, MD, said at the news conference. "Treatment is not enough. We have to prevent these tragedies, and they are preventable."

Dr. Stewart, who is chair of the department of surgery at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, cared for four Uvalde victims.

"I talk to trauma surgeons across the nation on a regular basis, and we are all deeply disturbed," chair of the ACS Committee on Trauma Jeffrey Kerby, MD, PhD, said at the press conference. "Surgeons are human, and we can't help but share in the grief, pain and suffering that our patients and their families endure."

The ACS outlined a set of recommendations to address the gun violence epidemic. The recommendations were based on a survey sent to surgeons across the U.S., who ACS Trauma Programs Medical Director Eileen Bulger, MD, said are "almost all passionate firearm owners."

The organization recommended measures including robust background checks for all purchases and transfers of firearms; universal registration and the implementation of an electronic database for all registered firearms; and the reassessment of high capacity, magazine-fed semi-automatic guns like AR-15-style rifles to be included in the class III weapons designation, or the creation of a new weapons class to accommodate those guns.

"Whether it's a legislative process or an executive order, we believe that [AR-15-style classification] change should be made, and we would work with any stakeholders," ACS Executive Director Patricia Turner, MD, said at the conference.

"I do not believe that the [recommendations] pose an undue burden on the rights of individual gun owners," ACS Medical Director for Advocacy Patrick Bailey, MD, said. Dr. Bailey is a self-proclaimed gun owner.

"The public wants and expects us to do that," Dr. Stewart said. "The medical community has the expertise in caring for the patients. If we bring a health and medical approach on this to the legislative table, we can really make a difference."

The Tulsa attack was Oklahoma's second mass shooting in four days, USAToday reported June 2.

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