July 7, 2020

ISNA 2019 Annual Convention Resolution #1: Understanding the Impact of Firearms on Public Health

Two resolutions were adopted at the Indiana State Nurses Association (ISNA) Annual Convention on September 20, 2019, in Indianapolis, Indiana. The first pertained to the impact of firearms on public health. This post will provide some details of the discussion and a brief summary of the resolution itself.

As I mentioned previously, this was my first ISNA convention. As a result, I was not present for any discussion that may have take place during any previous convention. In fact, the first resolution was discussed during the 2018 convention.

I have not read the text of last year’s version of the resolution, but I gathered from this year’s discussion that there was heated debate at that time. Multiple individuals who spoke during the discussion this year represented opposing sides last year. In addition, they referred to discussions that have taken place since then as a result of which the representatives of the two opposing sides appeared to be united in their support for this year’s version of the resolution.

According to the executive summary of the 2019 version, the history of the community-wide, health-related advocacy of nurses is naturally connected to the promotion of safety and health in the context of the presence of firearms within communities. Given the diversity of views among nurses concerning firearms, this resolution sought to leverage a common thread among nurses “to promote, advocate, and strive for protecting the health, safety, and rights of our communities when it comes to firearm-related injury and death.”

The bottom line of the resolution referred to advocacy at the federal and state levels to promote commitment of funding of “bias-free” collection of data on “gun[-]related events” to guide policy decisions that would improve the health of Hoosiers. A secondary statement highlighted the importance of individual mental well-being to reduce the risk of harm in communities.

The statements on which the resolution was founded were threefold. The first asserted the need to frame firearm injury and death in terms of public health as a route to understanding the related incidence and prevalence in order to conceive of preventive measures. The second statement claimed a major role for nurses in utilizing evidence-based policies to education and promote “the health, safety, and rights of communities and patients.” The third statement expressed the support of ISNA members for legislation to fund community and school programs aimed at the promotion of mental health wellness. The final resolution commits ISNA to:

Advocate and encourage state and federal representatives to fund the collection and dissemination of evidence-based data surrounding firearm injury and death. In addition, ISNA promotes using this [sic] data to focus on the establishment of community programs aimed at injury prevention and mental health wellness.

Implementation activities pursuant to passage of this resolution were stated to include:

  • Expansion of ISNA’s contact network among “state and federal government agencies, representatives, and community stakeholders” to promote the use of “evidence-based data”
  • Promotion of broadening the definition of “firearm[-]related injury” to include physical and emotional impacts
  • Notification of the American Nurses Association of ISNA’s resolution
  • Supporting educational resources that promote gun safety
  • Promoting support groups and networks for individuals impacted by firearm-related injuries
  • Promotion of a “statewide or national database for stolen weapons for firearm dealers to prevent firearm[-]related injury”

As you may have suspected by now, this resolution was adopted nearly unanimously by ISNA’s membership and has now become part of the policy platform of ISNA PAC.

What are you thoughts on this resolution? What do you see as underlying assumptions? Is the reasoning behind the resolution sound? Are the proposed implementation activities appropriate? I’d love to hear what you think.

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