Regarding the Nov. 12 Politics & the Nation article “Doctors fight back, share stories after NRA tells them ‘to stay in their lane’ ”:
The United States has nearly 400 million guns, by some estimates, and more guns in private hands per capita than in any other country. Yet young Americans (15-24) are nearly 50 times more likely to die by gun than their peers in other high-income countries, and the United States accounts for 91 percent of children (younger than 15) killed by guns among high-income countries. This massive supply of guns does not protect us and does not make us safer.
I applaud the 23,000 doctors and other health professionals who have signed a letter urging further research on gun violence and asking the National Rifle Association to join. Most gun owners are also tired of the carnage: In 2016, 155,000 Americans were killed or wounded by guns. The annual direct and indirect costs of gun violence are estimated at $174 billion to $229 billion. The bill just for the Las Vegas mass shooting is estimated at $600 million. It’s time for a major redirection on gun laws and policies.
Everytown for Gun Safety’s five-point plan charts a reasonable way forward: better background-check system, red-flag laws and responsible access to firearms, disarming domestic abusers, research on gun violence and community intervention programs, and holding the gun industry accountable.
Christina Files, Chevy Chase
As a pediatrician, I have found the past few days of medical professionals’ #thisisourlane response to the National Rifle Association both inspiring and unifying. I was surprised, however, that the Nov. 12 Politics & the Nation article on their response focused on the “lane” being physicians’ treatment of the physical trauma of gunshot wounds. Physicians and the broader health community do tremendous work in the areas of preventive counseling on gun safety and treating emotional trauma related to gun violence.
In my office, I regularly counsel on gun safety in the home, how to limit children’s exposure to traumatic events in the media, how parents can talk to their children about mass shootings, anxiety in young children after lockdown drills, and anxiety and depression from preschoolers to young adults resulting from concerns for their safety and exposure to ever-present violence in our world.
If we are to finally be able to look at gun violence as a public-health problem, all of these aspects need to be acknowledged, researched — and reported on.
Rachel Wallace Téllez, Woodbury, Minn.