Over the past weekend, multiple shootings across the United States — in Pennsylvania, Tennessee, South Carolina and Arizona — left at least 15 people dead and more than 60 wounded. The tragedies come after two mass shootings that killed 10 people in Buffalo, N.Y., and 19 children and 2 teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

In light of political gridlock to regulate gun ownership in the United States, medical ethicist Art Caplan turned to what doctors can do to try to prevent gun deaths.

“Let's start some conversations quickly. Do you have guns in the house? Are they stored safely? Have you told your child what to do if they find a gun? Do you ask the neighbors if they have guns?” he said on Boston Public Radio Tuesday. “In other words, there's a quick checklist I think that medicine can do without any legislation to kind of help get gun safety going a bit more.”

Firearms are now the number-one cause of death for children in the United States, and have been since 2020. While recognizing that doctors often have limited time with their patients, Caplan argued that the threat of death by guns is making it a more urgent priority.

“Remember, too, another big cause of death isn't the mass shootings — it's suicides,” he said. “We've got to make sure that mental health: do you have a gun in the house if you're depressed, or PTSD? These are questions that I think medicine should give more emphasis to.”

Attempts to regulate gun ownership are running into partisan divides. Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, the lead Democratic negotiator in bipartisan conversations on gun control legislation, told CNN’s Jake Tapper that they’re looking at what changes could get 60 votes in the Senate to pass without a filibuster. He said a final gun control overhaul package could include “red flag” laws and narrower background check measures.

Republicans in Congress still seem to be split on advancing stricter gun control measures. While Pennsylvania GOP Sen. Pat Toomey, who is involved in the bipartisan negotiations, expressed his support for expanding background checks, lead Republican negotiator Sen. John Cornyn of Texas stated that more restrictive gun laws were “not gonna happen.”

“The [doctor’s] plate’s full, you’re trying to figure out, ‘How do I respond to this patient in front of me and their complaint? I don’t have time to go through: wear your seatbelt and are you making sure that you don’t have sex with people who have monkeypox?’” Caplan said. “There’s a hundred things you could do. But I think guns with kids is getting up there. So that’s an area I hope we see aggressively pursued.”

Art Caplan is the Drs. William F. and Virginia Connolly Mitty Professor and founding head of the Division of Medical Ethics at NYU School of Medicine in New York City.