A panel of pediatric specialists gathered Tuesday at John R. Oishei Children's Hospital to talk about the short and long-term mental health effects of gun violence on our community, and to show support for reforming gun control laws.
The panelists included Dr. Stephen Turkovich, Chief Medical Officer at the John R. Oishei Children's Hospital; Dr. Beth Smith, Medical Director of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health at the John R. Oishei Children's Hospital; Dr. Kathryn Bass, Medical Director of Trauma at the John R. Oishei Children's Hospital; Dr. Michael Terranova, FAAP American Academy of Pediatrics representative; and Dr. Gale Burstein, FAAP, MPH, Erie County Health Commissioner.
Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein says it's important for parents to do everything they can to reduce or eliminate opportunities for kids and adolescents to come in contact with guns. She also recommends families that have guns to make sure to store them properly, locked up and separate from the ammunition.
"Making sure parents are having conversations with their kids about guns and gun safety and understanding there is no safe gun," Dr. Burstein said. "Even just to touch it and to hold it, bad things can happen."
The specialists are also calling on the federal government and the Centers for Disease Control to conduct research and surveillance on the gun violence epidemic so communities can begin to understand the magnitude of the problem and its causes.
The specialists are encouraging the public to come out in support of comprehensive gun legislation and access to mental health services by participating in the local March for Our Lives demonstration on Saturday, March 24, 2018. Demonstrators will gather in Niagara Square in Buffalo at 1:30 p.m.