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NRA tells doctors to 'stay in their lane'

The NRA is under fire for their response to doctors who shared gun stories and calls of action online following recent shootings in Pennsylvania and California.

Posted: Nov 12, 2018 5:26 PM
Updated: Nov 12, 2018 5:26 PM

He had just graduated high school when he was shot in the back of the head, execution style. His mother said she had just thrown him a graduation party. You could see the pride in her eyes, as tears flowed down her face.

It took every ounce of strength I had to remain composed and provide her with the support she needed. I didn't have the courage to tell her that her son and I had more in common than she realized.

When I was his age, I was nearly killed after being shot in the throat with a .38 caliber bullet. I survived. But this woman's son died. To this day I continue to ask myself why I was given this second chance.

Many of my patients are not given the same second chance I have had. And the worst part of my job is having to speak with mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers -- and telling them their loved one has died. The memory I have of their faces, the piercing cries I hear at night, and the blood that has stained my scrubs and the operating room floor are reasons enough for the medical community to be a critical part of the solution.

While mass shootings like the one in Thousand Oaks, California, last week occupy much of the media's attention, it is important to note that these large-scale tragedies comprise less than 2% of the gun violence we see in this country.

Meanwhile, every day, in cities like Baltimore and Chicago, young black men fall victim to gun violence at a disproportionate rate. Their stories often go untold.

The medical community -- including nurses, medics, technicians, pharmacists, social workers and doctors -- stand on the front lines of caring for victims of gun violence. We see the physical damage inflicted by gunshot wounds, and we also witness the pain of those victims they leave behind. So you might imagine our surprise on November 7 when the National Rifle Association told us to stay in our lane and not get involved in issues of gun violence that go beyond treating the bodily damage that results.

That type of message indicates the NRA is not serious about addressing this public health crisis that we face. If it were, it would realize that a complex issue such as gun violence requires engagement of stakeholders from all walks of life and with diverse perspectives on the issue.

Furthermore, to state, as the NRA did, that "the medical community seems to have consulted NO ONE but themselves," ignores the efforts that have been made by medical professionals to engage with those outside our own field. In January 2017, Ronny Stewart, trauma medical director of the American College of Surgeons, told me the ACS sat down with the leadership of the NRA to discuss opportunities to work together to combat gun violence.

It is also worth noting that the health care community contains gun owners and NRA members, many of whom have expressed to me their astonishment at the idea that we, the medical community, should not provide solutions to reduce firearm injury and death in this country.

Our role in aiding gunshot victims is seen in every hospital across America -- and is now, as a result of the outpouring against the NRA's tweet, being more fully recognized by the global community all across social media. Shortly after the NRA tweeted its comments, the Twitter account @ThisIsOurLane exploded. While the stories are heart-wrenching and difficult to read, and the images shared from inside trauma centers were beyond words, they are mission critical to demonstrating to the public why our role in gun violence is front and center.

Despite the fact that the NRA has attempted to undermine and dismiss the medical community, we are willing to rise above the fray to express how serious we are about ending gun violence in this country. A recent open letter composed by the American Foundation for Firearm Injury Reduction in Medicine, or AFFIRM, on behalf of the American Health Care Professionals, is inviting the NRA to be part of the solution.

Megan Ranney, M.D., MPH, chief research officer of AFFIRM and one of the signers of the letter, recently told me: "As the professionals who manage this epidemic, we bear witness to every trauma and attempt to resuscitate, successful or not."

Let me be clear: We are also not anti-gun -- we are anti-bullet hole. It is time to stop polarizing this issue and start developing action-oriented solutions that will end gun violence in America.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 62199

Reported Deaths: 1753
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds5329110
DeSoto338727
Madison232460
Harrison222833
Rankin216830
Jackson206338
Jones180457
Forrest165353
Washington152433
Lauderdale135488
Lee127430
Neshoba123288
Lamar114613
Oktibbeha106036
Lowndes99932
Bolivar98732
Warren97630
Scott96219
Panola93611
Sunflower92623
Copiah92426
Lafayette88512
Leflore86660
Holmes85148
Pike84632
Grenada81621
Yazoo79311
Leake77125
Lincoln75641
Pontotoc7527
Wayne73621
Simpson72328
Monroe71650
Coahoma67710
Tate66524
Marion62519
Covington60112
Adams58725
Marshall5858
Winston58415
George5495
Union53814
Newton52611
Attala50224
Pearl River49637
Tallahatchie49610
Walthall46318
Chickasaw44319
Noxubee42611
Claiborne40113
Jasper3859
Smith38513
Calhoun3819
Clay37413
Alcorn3634
Prentiss3516
Hancock34414
Tishomingo3394
Itawamba31710
Tippah31612
Lawrence3155
Yalobusha31310
Clarke31025
Montgomery2973
Tunica2926
Humphreys27411
Carroll24811
Quitman2331
Greene23211
Kemper22715
Perry2267
Jefferson Davis2146
Amite2116
Webster20112
Jefferson1936
Wilkinson18813
Sharkey1831
Stone1593
Benton1300
Choctaw1294
Franklin1172
Issaquena211
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 90890

Reported Deaths: 1611
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson12039228
Mobile9170197
Montgomery6305147
Madison508227
Tuscaloosa398466
Baldwin326323
Shelby307532
Marshall298433
Unassigned281255
Lee251940
Morgan224315
Etowah195728
DeKalb171813
Elmore162637
Calhoun159012
Walker147464
Houston132712
Dallas129423
Russell12471
St. Clair123612
Limestone120813
Franklin120620
Cullman115711
Colbert110712
Lauderdale109512
Autauga103020
Escambia97915
Talladega92713
Jackson8704
Chambers82838
Tallapoosa82278
Dale78722
Butler75135
Blount7413
Chilton7226
Coffee7165
Covington71520
Pike6607
Barbour5635
Lowndes55824
Marion54724
Marengo52614
Clarke4879
Hale45726
Bullock44111
Winston43211
Perry4314
Wilcox4089
Monroe3954
Randolph39110
Bibb3813
Conecuh37210
Pickens3719
Sumter35918
Lawrence3240
Washington31412
Macon31113
Crenshaw2973
Choctaw27612
Cherokee2477
Henry2463
Greene24511
Geneva2420
Clay2235
Lamar2032
Fayette1765
Cleburne1211
Coosa922
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