Guns and gun control are divisive topics. Talking about them often ends in frustration and both parties walk away feeling unheard. A not-so-debatable point, however, is that there are over 30,000 gun deaths per year in the United States. About 80,000 people are non-fatally injured. Gun violence in this country is a public health crisis.
This public health issue is caught up in political fervor, often being controlled by politicians and special-interest lobbyists who are not experts in health and who usually have different goals in mind. In fact, there is a federal law called the Dickey Amendment that prohibits public spending on any research that might advocate for gun control. And in some parts of the country, namely Florida, physicians are not allowed to question their patients about guns or to speak about gun safety.
This has to change. If a physician cannot expertly guide their patients towards health using current medical information, the fundamental role of that physician has been demeaned. Patients trust their clinicians to assess available data, draw rational conclusions, and to recommend smart health choices. But when research is defunded, and physicians are silenced, misinformation continues to permeate, and we bear witness to a public health crisis.
Some physician groups are fighting back.
In Florida, there is the Florida Pediatric Society, the Florida Academy of Family Physicians, along with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the American Civil Liberties Union.
A coalition of 141 medical groups is urging Congress in D.C. to repeal the ban on firearm research.
Join them. Speak up. End gun violence.
Jamie Katuna is a medical student.