Yes, gun violence is in doctors’ ‘lane’

The NRA is wrong to dismiss physicians’ concerns over the effects of firearms

We have had our 307th mass shooting of 2018 at Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, Calif., in November. Sadly, I fear that No. 308 and even No. 309 may occur before this article even hits the press.

I have heard “mass shooting” defined as more than four people either wounded or killed in a single gun violence episode. If that is the definition used, then I wonder if there have been even more than 307 mass shootings this year.

What has spurred outrage in the medical profession this month has to do with an article written in the Annals of Internal Medicine by the American College of Physicians. The article was based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data and was titled, “Reducing Firearm Injuries and Deaths in the United States.”

This seems a very timely article in light of our continuing and regular mass shootings in this country.

In fact, the topic was in some of the lectures given at the recent NH Medical Association annual meeting and one of the topics of Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s address at the same meeting.

Once again this drew the ire of the NRA. And once again their fear-producing and totally inappropriate statements have caused gun owners to fear for their Second Amendment rights.

On Nov. 2, the NRA wrote that physicians were only interested in pseudoscience “evidence” that supports their preferred anti-gun policies. Pseudoscience? These are real hard numbers of people killed over decades. How is that pseudo anything?

They followed this up Nov. 7 with a tweet that came out just hours before the Borderline Bar and Grill attack. The tweet stated, “Someone should tell important anti-gun doctors to stay in their lane.”

Well, we doctors and other health professionals will tell you that not only is this our lane, in some places it’s become our highway.

Every day in this country there are doctors and other health professionals who are stabilizing gun victims on the scene, resuscitating them in the Emergency Department, operating on them in the OR, and caring for them post-op in ICUs and hospital floors across America.

Then, after they are saved, there are the physical therapists and occupational therapists who help the patients rehab from their injuries to return to some semblance of a normal life.

Then there are the counselors, therapists and psychiatrists who help them deal with the PTSD, anxiety and depression that follow these traumatic events.

Then there are the pathologists and forensic specialists who perform autopsies on the patients who didn’t survive the physician’s lifesaving efforts.

Then there are the doctors in the medical offices who try to help the patients make sense of it all and continue to help them heal from their injuries both medical and psychological.

Okay, NRA, do you still not think this is in our lane?

I still tear up when I think of patients I have lost to suicide by gun in my career, and I’m a pediatrician. I cry with all the parents of the loss of innocent babies at Sandy Hook and at other schools and day cares in our country. I counsel children and families every day that they are safe in their schools and should go about their lives without worrying about this.

But is this fair? It could happen anywhere, even though we feel safe in our small towns in New Hampshire.

So, no, NRA and gun enthusiasts, I don’t want to take all your guns away. I, and many doctors like myself, simply want sensible gun laws so that we don’t have to continue to care for the carnage that occurs daily in our great country.

We want our children, families and our patients to be safe and secure in their daily lives.

I am one of many who hope that our government is finally going to listen to the people and not to the lobbyists and make our country safe. This is a public health issue as the public’s health is at stake and, yes, this is “in our lane.”

Dr. Patricia Edwards of Bow is a pediatrician and president of Concord Pediatrics in Concord.

Categories: Opinion