The author is co-founder and chair of the Coalition Against Gun Violence. She lives in Carpinteria.
When there is a horrific shooting, we get facts about the event — how many fatalities, how many wounded and analysis of the shooter to understand the “why” of this tragedy. We are told the number of persons wounded, but no information about their future outcomes.
This is when the first responders at the hospital rush into action, deciding in minutes or seconds what must be done to save this life. We can’t imagine what an emergency room is like after a mass shooting, or any shooting. We have no concept of what a bullet does to a body. Doctors and nurses rush into action to save a life while the families and loved ones wait for the final outcome.
Dr. Robert Kanard, chief of pediatric surgery at Cottage Children’s Medical Center, stated: “I spent eight more years training to be a pediatric surgeon. Over the past 20-plus years, I have treated hundreds of people with firearm injuries. When I was in practice in Chicago, I worked at three of the busiest pediatric trauma centers. I have cared for children of all ages from different backgrounds and races, and I have learned that a bullet doesn’t discriminate.”
A recent position paper from the American College of Physicians (ACA) regarding the need to implement policies based on 20 years of evidence that will be effective in reducing deaths and injuries from firearm-related violence, concludes and advocates for the need to address these injuries and deaths in the United States. Firearm violence continues to be a public health crisis that requires the nation’s immediate attention. The ACA policies recommended are based on analysis of approaches that the evidence suggests will be effective in reducing deaths and injuries from firearm-related violence.
In response to the ACA position paper, the National Rifle Association (NRA) sent a tweet to the medical profession. The NRA disparaged the American College of Physicians (ACP) for promoting an array of gun-control regulations. “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 NRA tweeted.
What happened next was a flurry of responses from doctors. The NRA tweet motivated the creation of the Twitter hashtags #ThisIsMyLane and #ThisIsOurLane, which then were attached to a wide lane of responses, some of which are listed below:
The ACP argues that medical professionals have a “special responsibility” to recommend “a public health approach to the prevention of firearm injuries and deaths” and to speak out and support “appropriate regulation of the purchase” of guns. “It is not an ‘us versus them’ issue. What we are truly asking for is a coming together of both sides to find a solution to this national health problem.”
One doctor’s tweet to the NRA: “#ThisIsMyLane. Wanna see my lane? Here’s the chair I sit in when I tell parents their kids are dead. How dare you tell me I can’t research evidence-based solutions.”
Another ACP doctor tweeted: “Maybe the NRA should have to tell the parents face to face. And pay for the funerals. And see the bodies of those killed by their obsession for money and guns.”
And this tweet: “Here’s an idea. If the NRA wants to be in your lane so bad, maybe it’s time for doctors to challenge them head-on. Invite them into your operating rooms. Let them see what a body riddled with bullets actually looks like. If they refuse, they’ll be proven cowards once and for all.”
The Coalition Against Gun Violence asked its 24th anniversary featured speakers Drs. Kanard, Sara Nimmons and Jason Prystowsky, each who have worked in emergency rooms, what their professional and personal viewpoint is regarding the NRA tweet. Their responses were heartfelt and professional, far beyond what the public knows regarding the struggle for the lives of patients by doctors and nurses in emergency rooms.
These doctors are in our community saving lives. This is an area of gun violence unknown to most people — what it takes to save the lives of gunshot victims.
The Coalition Against Gun Violence will hold its 24th anniversary celebration/fundraiser on Sunday, September 29, at the historic Santa Barbara Club, 1105 Chapala St., from 2:30 until 5:30 p.m. For information and reservations, visit sbcoalition.org