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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.

Cases: 265146

Reported Deaths: 5777
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17741191
Hinds16891332
Harrison14279204
Rankin11239220
Jackson10917190
Lee9071145
Madison8599169
Jones6731118
Forrest6208124
Lauderdale6121192
Lowndes5544120
Lafayette520598
Lamar505865
Washington4933125
Bolivar4126109
Oktibbeha408382
Panola386981
Pontotoc377460
Monroe3686110
Warren3685103
Marshall357170
Union356864
Pearl River3495106
Neshoba3490154
Leflore3118109
Lincoln306788
Hancock294262
Sunflower291975
Tate280662
Alcorn273154
Pike270181
Itawamba269363
Scott260048
Yazoo256756
Prentiss253754
Coahoma249755
Copiah249749
Tippah249750
Simpson242872
Leake238167
Marion224273
Grenada223972
Covington221073
Adams215171
Wayne213734
Winston207671
George204739
Newton199946
Attala197064
Tishomingo194961
Chickasaw189344
Jasper181138
Holmes172068
Clay166837
Tallahatchie157235
Stone152525
Clarke148162
Calhoun141322
Smith130026
Yalobusha123335
Walthall114537
Greene113729
Noxubee113026
Montgomery112036
Carroll106822
Lawrence106817
Perry105131
Amite102126
Webster96824
Tunica89021
Claiborne88825
Jefferson Davis88430
Benton85823
Humphreys84724
Kemper80920
Quitman7139
Franklin70617
Choctaw63713
Wilkinson59825
Jefferson56821
Sharkey45217
Issaquena1606
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 441170

Reported Deaths: 6660
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson646811007
Mobile31620572
Madison28310217
Tuscaloosa21525275
Montgomery19954332
Shelby19335132
Baldwin17256189
Lee13205107
Morgan12639142
Etowah12107181
Calhoun11521206
Marshall10471123
Houston9009164
Limestone834981
Cullman8274124
Elmore8214110
DeKalb7894107
Lauderdale7871107
St. Clair7854130
Talladega6481112
Walker6036183
Jackson601545
Colbert549994
Blount547386
Autauga537662
Coffee462464
Dale410785
Franklin374950
Russell357515
Chilton345473
Covington339680
Escambia335444
Tallapoosa3149109
Dallas313296
Chambers304270
Clarke300236
Pike262531
Lawrence254155
Marion253761
Winston233642
Bibb222348
Geneva211547
Marengo209331
Pickens199631
Hale185244
Barbour182738
Fayette178629
Butler174460
Cherokee165731
Henry159925
Monroe152421
Randolph146436
Washington142327
Clay130546
Crenshaw124045
Macon122337
Cleburne121825
Lamar120222
Lowndes115536
Wilcox107922
Bullock103528
Perry100018
Conecuh97922
Sumter90527
Greene77923
Coosa63618
Choctaw51924
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