Dear NRA, of course doctors are part of the solution

He had just graduated high school when he was shot in the back of the head, execution style. His mother said...

Posted: Nov 13, 2018 1:40 AM
Updated: Nov 13, 2018 1:40 AM

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.

Crime, law enforcement and corrections

Crimes against persons

Criminal offenses

Firearms

National Rifle Association

Political advocacy groups

Political organizations

Shootings

Societal issues

Society

Violence in society

Weapons and arms

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: 27900

Reported Deaths: 1082
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds215239
DeSoto137316
Madison122234
Jones106949
Neshoba96069
Lauderdale88278
Rankin84112
Forrest81442
Scott75015
Harrison7448
Copiah56615
Leake54819
Jackson53316
Holmes52741
Wayne52112
Washington4969
Lee49316
Oktibbeha48624
Yazoo4736
Leflore47249
Lowndes45311
Warren44317
Lincoln43534
Lamar4197
Grenada3805
Monroe36729
Pike36712
Attala35223
Lafayette3524
Newton3289
Sunflower3066
Covington3025
Bolivar27713
Panola2706
Adams26718
Chickasaw25918
Tate2577
Jasper2506
Marion24811
Pontotoc2476
Noxubee2458
Pearl River24432
Winston2435
Clay24210
Claiborne23610
Simpson2303
Smith20611
Clarke20124
Marshall2013
Coahoma1866
Kemper17614
Union1759
Walthall1724
Yalobusha1617
Carroll16011
Lawrence1591
Itawamba1278
Calhoun1244
Humphreys1239
Tippah12311
Webster12310
Montgomery1222
Hancock12013
Jefferson Davis1064
Tallahatchie1043
Prentiss983
Greene927
Jefferson923
Wilkinson919
Tunica893
Amite822
George743
Choctaw714
Quitman680
Tishomingo681
Perry614
Alcorn561
Stone521
Franklin382
Benton270
Sharkey240
Issaquena71
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 38442

Reported Deaths: 947
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson4387142
Montgomery383999
Mobile3697134
Tuscaloosa204938
Marshall153710
Lee118937
Shelby108223
Madison10577
Morgan9813
Walker86723
Franklin85213
Dallas8198
Elmore81314
Baldwin6869
Etowah62513
Butler60427
DeKalb6025
Chambers58127
Tallapoosa56369
Autauga54511
Unassigned52025
Russell4840
Lowndes45820
Lauderdale4446
Houston4344
Limestone4090
Cullman4003
Pike3995
Colbert3685
Bullock3629
Coffee3532
Barbour3231
Covington3087
St. Clair3042
Hale29321
Marengo28611
Wilcox2808
Sumter27612
Calhoun2705
Talladega2677
Clarke2665
Escambia2636
Dale2440
Jackson2382
Winston2333
Blount2141
Chilton2112
Pickens2116
Marion20312
Monroe1972
Choctaw19212
Conecuh1804
Bibb1711
Macon1708
Randolph1709
Greene1667
Perry1451
Henry1303
Crenshaw1233
Lawrence1010
Washington1007
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Lamar711
Fayette671
Geneva670
Clay582
Coosa551
Cleburne291
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