Doctors clash with NRA over gun deathsBy Lisa Marie Pane, The Associated Press, November 22, 2018
The photos from doctors came quickly and in succession: blood-stained operating rooms, blood-covered scrubs and shoes, bullets piercing body parts and organs.
The pictures on Twitter were an emotional response to a smack down by the powerful gun industry lobby, which took issue with the American College of Physicians’ call late last month for tighter gun control laws. The recommendations included bans on “assault weapons,” large capacity magazines and 3D printed firearms.
“Someone should tell self important anti-gun doctors to stay in their lane. Half of the articles in Annals of Internal Medicine are pushing for gun control. Most upsetting, however, the medical community seems to have consulted NO ONE but themselves,” the National Rifle Association tweeted.
Physicians across the United States seized on the phrasing, taking to Twitter with 22,000 comments and the hashtags #thisismylane and #thisisourlane, posting photos of their encounters with gun violence and offering their own personal stories of treating such
The debate gained new urgency this week with the shooting death of an emergency room doctor outside the hospital where she worked, as physicians argue shootings are a public health crisis that they must play a key role in trying to stem. Dr. Tamara O’Neal was killed Monday outside a hospital in Chicago in what police say was a dispute with her ex-fiance. The shooter and two other people — a responding police officer and a resident in the hospital’s pharmacy — also died.
“It just shows that not only is this is in our lane, but this happens to us,” said Dr. Joseph Sakran, a trauma surgeon at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore who as a 17-year-old was shot in the throat by a stray bullet fired during a dispute at a high school football game.
Sakran created a Twitter account @ThisIsOurLane which in just two weeks has attracted nearly 15,000 followers. They include Dr. Peter Masiakos, a pediatric trauma surgeon in Boston, who wrote “The Quiet Room” just hours after the mass shooting at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, about breaking the news that a loved one has died.
“We need to start talking about this as a public health issue. Politics aside, we have a problem that no other country has, and we shouldn’t,” Masiakos said.
About 35,000 people each year are killed by guns in the United States, and about two-thirds are suicides. That’s about 670 people per week and among the largest number of civilian gun deaths in the world.
The world’s highest rate of gun deaths is in El Salvador with a rate of 72.5 per 100,00; the rate in the U.S. is 3.1 per 100,000. Among all European countries, the rate never breaks 1 gun death per 100,000, according to Small Arms Survey, a Switzerland-based research organization that examines firearms and violence.