CHICAGO — With frustration mounting over lawmakers’ inaction on gun control, the American Medical Association on Tuesday pressed for a ban on assault weapons and came out against arming teachers as a way to fight what it calls a public health crisis.
At its annual policy-making meeting, the nation’s largest physicians’ group bowed to unprecedented demands from its members to take a stronger stand on gun violence, a problem the organizations says is as menacing as a lethal infectious disease.
The action comes against a backdrop of school shootings, street violence in the nation’s inner cities, and rising US suicide rates.
‘‘We as physicians are the witnesses to the human toll of this disease,’’ Dr. Megan Ranney, an emergency-medicine specialist at Brown University, said at the meeting.
Delegates voted to adopt several of nearly a dozen gun-related proposals presented by doctor groups that are part of the AMA’s membership. They agreed to:
■ Support any bans on the purchase or possession of guns and ammunition by people under 21.
■ Back laws that would require licensing and safety courses for gun owners and registration of all firearms.
■ Press for legislation that would allow relatives of suicidal people or those who have threatened imminent violence to seek court-ordered removal of guns from the home.
■ Encourage better training for physicians in how to recognize patients at risk for suicide.
■ Push to eliminate loopholes in laws preventing the purchase or possession of guns by people found guilty of domestic violence, including expanding such measures to cover convicted stalkers.
Many AMA members are gun owners or supporters, including a doctor from Montana who told delegates of learning to shoot at a firing range in the basement of her middle school as part of gym class. But support for banning assault weapons was overwhelming, with the measure adopted in a 446-99 vote.