Physicians and nurses from Atlanta and Chicago to New York and Washington and even abroad expressed anger and anguish after another instance of gun violence — one that an emergency physician said “hits too close to home.”
They called out the National Rifle Association for having told them to “stay in their lane.” They called on colleagues to speak out about gun violence. “No one should have to fear for their life in a hospital (or anywhere) because of guns,” one physician tweeted.
Another asked: “Are you really still asking if @ThisIsOurLane?"
“Hospitals are supposed to be places of healing, not death. Schools are supposed to be places of learning, not death. Churches are supposed to be places of worship, not death,” Eugene Gu, a surgeon and scientist, tweeted late Monday, following the deadly shooting at the hospital in Chicago. “Our country is supposed to be the United States of America, not a war torn battlefield. Of death.”
The calls to action come after the NRA told doctors to “stay in their lane” earlier this month, suggesting that gun policy is the NRA’s domain. It sparked a backlash from medical professionals across the United States and abroad, voicing their disdain on social media with the hashtag #ThisIsOurLane.
The Chicago shooting further fueled the flames, prompting medical professionals to voice their opinions.
The NRA tweet was spurred by a position paper from the American College of Physicians posted on Oct. 30 by the Annals of Internal Medicine and titled “Reducing Firearm Injuries and Deaths in the United States.” The ACP recommended “a public health approach to firearms-related violence and the prevention of firearm injuries and deaths,” saying the medical profession has a “special responsibility” to speak out on the prevention of such injuries and supporting “appropriate regulation of the purchase of legal firearms,” among other measures.“The College acknowledges that any such regulations must be consistent with the Supreme Court ruling establishing that individual ownership of firearms is a constitutional right under the Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights,” the paper said.The NRA lashed out, first with a Nov. 2 editorial saying that the ACP paper “reflects every anti-gunner’s public policy wish list, save for the outsized role given to doctors,” and accusing the group of being “only interested in pseudoscience ‘evidence’ that supports their preferred anti-gun policies.”Then on Nov. 7, just hours before 28-year-old former Marine Ian David Long launched his attack at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, the NRA put out its provocative tweet.“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 Annals of Internal Medicine responded in kind.
In an editorial published Tuesday in the prominent academic medical journal, physicians said that the NRA “does not believe firearm-related injury and its prevention is within the purview of physicians.”
“We could not disagree more,” they wrote.
“If you are unconvinced and need examples of why firearms are a health issue, here are a few. People with accidental gun-related injury nearly always require acute medical care, and many go on to have chronic injury-related health issues. Almost 40 percent of individuals who commit suicide are seen by their primary care provider within the preceding month. Firearms are a frequent and very effective means of suicide. Thus, talking with patients at risk for suicide about their access to firearms is clearly ‘in our lane.’ ”
The editorial also stated that physicians and nurses are responsible for performing surgeries to try to save the lives of victims in such situations, and informing the families when they still die.
“These responsibilities are not only in doctors' lane, they are our job,” the physicians wrote. “Consequently, so is advocating for policies that reduce firearm injury and conducting research to better inform policies to keep our patients safer.”
The NRA did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Washington Post.
After the Chicago shooting, the medical community returned to Twitter, extending prayers and pledging to fight. The victims were identified as Chicago Police Officer Samuel Jimenez; an emergency room doctor Tamara O’Neal; and a first-year pharmacy resident, Dayna Less, according to the Chicago Tribune.