Boston Medical Center Trauma and Emergency Services felt the need to address the issue of an assault weapons ban. Here’s their open letter.

As witnesses to the consequences of gun violence on a daily basis and in response to the recent horrific events of December 14th, we feel strongly that a frank discussion of the role of firearms in our society is overdue . . .

Trauma providers see injuries and deaths due to firearms first-hand. The 16-year-old who will never again move his lower extremities after being shot multiple times will never become a statistic worthy of the media’s attention; his future is limited and punctuated by further suffering due to his condition. Or the 20-year-old shot multiple times in the head whose mother does not recognize him due to the damage to his face as the trauma team fights to save his life. This young man dies despite the heroic efforts of every component of the medical community. Such people come to us on a daily basis and for each one that dies there are hundreds more who are forever altered by sublethal firearm injuries and who go unnoticed by society at-large.

We also witness the collateral damage that gun violence layers on family members, friends, loved ones and the community. This secondary trauma is an underappreciated burden of our gun violence, fracturing families and, in many instances, tearing them apart. The mother who cannot sleep because she has nightmares of her child being gunned down or another parent whose grief is so severe that they can barely eat, or find the energy to take care of their other children. We know parents who are so fearful for the safety of their children that they keep them indoors at all times. Numbness and fear are prevalent effects of gun violence. Members of the community are too scared to go to work or school due to possible gun violence—others have become so numb to the violence that they have accepted it into their daily lives. Surviving victims, family members, peers, loved ones and in some respects the greater community has been rendered helpless and hopeless by gun violence.

We do not want silence on our part to be interpreted as acceptance of the status quo. We insist on a meaningful discussion of the role of firearms in our society. We believe that military grade/assault type weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips that have the sole purpose of taking human life should have no role in a society at peace. The easy access to them by an individual represents an unnecessary and unacceptable threat to our society and to the individuals within it.

Like any viable organization there are among us differing opinions. We, the undersigned, hold with the above.

Peter Burke, MD
Andrew Glantz, MD
Andy Ulrich, MD
Catherine Chen, MD, MPH
David Steger
Ellie Madison
Gerard Doherty, MD
Heidi Wing
Ingrid Erikson, PNP
Jonathan Olshaker, MD
Kate Mandell, MD
Keith Gilliam, LMHC
Kofi Abbensetts, MD
Lauren McNamara
Lisa Allee, LICSW, MSW
Tracey Dechert, MD
Hillary Perkins
Gerald V. Denis, Ph.D
Elizabeth Gibb, RN
Cheryl Melzar, RN
Carole Harris, RN
Kerry LaBarbera, RN
Jordan Spector, MD
Barbara M. Magill, RN
Jillian Perry, MD
Keri Fromm, RN
Renee Rolfe, RN
Amy Peterson, RN
Maura Dickinson, DO
Joseph Pare, MD
Joan Kalaher, RN
Neil Hadfield, MD
Andria Silva
Abbas Kothari, MD
Arlene Pak
Elizabeth Mitchell, MD
Gerri McGee, RN
Michelle Record Contini, MD
Tara Coles, MD
Dena Dwyer, RN
Amy Harrington, MD
Michele Blinn, CNAII
Elissa Schechter-Perkins, MD, MPH
Edward Bernstein, MD
Carl Bromwich, MD
Maureen Demmert
Jeanne Mase, MD
Alexa Kaskowitz, MD
Kristen Olson Lahner
Ronnie Dearden, RN
Nancy Johnson, RN
Deborah Sweet
Daniela Ramirez Schrempp, MD

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97 Responses to Open Letter [On Assault Weapons] from Boston Medical Center Trauma and Emergency Services

  1. So, if you live in Boston and are shot, you are all of the sudden a saint? No comments on the character of the people they see coming in and being shot? The reason the media doesn’t talk about these “kids” is because it doesn’t help their cause to bring 17 yr old thugs up on stage with obama.

    • That’s part of the problem with even listening to MDs and surgeons regarding firearms and gun rights. Except for gun owners among them, the only exposure they have with firearms is putting people back together again after suffering gunshot wounds. That does seriously color a person’s perspective. Compounding that is the fact that their profession demands that they make no distinction between a 12 year-old girl shot in Chicago gangland crossfire, a 22 year-old gang member who drew the short straw in a shootout with another gang member in a turf war, or a 30-something-year-old violent offender who was trying to brutally rape, rob, and murder a family but was stopped cold by a woman’s .38 revolver. By their oath, they are all one and the same, and as a result they all register as “tragedies” whether they cases merit it or not. It matters not if it’s a worried family waiting on word about their loved one in surgery, or police standing guard outside waiting to find out if they have a prisoner to take into custody or if they need to call the coroner. By that note, I’m sure medics in WWII thought the whole affair was pointless for the same reason (I’m thinking MASH here, even though that was Korea).

      • … their profession demands that they make no distinction …

        Precisely. While it doesn’t invalidate the MDs’ observations, from a policy point of view, who the gun-shot person is and how they got in that condition, is very much a matter to make distinctions about.

      • Yeah but the fact is that “assault rifles” are used in less than 2% of all gun crimes. Therefore seeing those on a daily basis is pretty much zero.

        These doctors will be the ones to ask if you have a gun in your house under Obama’s new EO’s. So, if you go to that hospital don’t see these doctors. lol. Obama’s snitch team!

  2. I had no idea that inanimate objects such as firearms were capable of causing such havoc. We should ban all inanimate objects immediately!

  3. >Clips.

    Those degrees mean nothing if you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    Of course they’re going to be anti-gun, Boston has a horrible gang problem, just like most big cities.

    • That’s what I was thinking. When the “peace” is shattered by an assault, that’s when you fight back with an assault weapon. We need to steer the discussion in this direction: assault weapons are how you defend yourself from an assault on your liberty.

    • Irony at it’s finest.

      “OMG look at all these victims of violence! Something must be done!”

      “We’re a society at peace”.

      Good to know common sense is required to attain a Phd or MD nowadays.

  4. Bunch of uninformed idiots. Rifles of any type including “assault weapons” and high capacity magazines are a blip of only half a percent of deaths.They are just against guns.

  5. Two responses:

    First, I would like to know exactly how many victims shot with “assault rifles” have been treated in Boston Medical Center over the last 10 years. Of those, how many died? And overall, how many of those “victims” had been previously convicted of violent or property crime? Finally, how many were engaged in the commission of a crime at the time they were shot?

    Second, what qualifications do you, as medical service providers, have which make you authorities on the legal and societal effects of firearms ownership?

    • My question is of the number of gunshot victims, how many were shot by LE? Aren’t you 5-6 times more likely to get shot by a cop than a civilian?

      • Based on the stats I’ve studied, that’s incorrect. I could dig up a link to the study, but as of 2006 cop-involved shootings were a small fraction of firearms deaths overall. The largest single cause, roughly half, was suicide by self-inflicted gunshot.

        • OK. I misspoke, the claim was for accidental shootings (collateral damage) by police, if that makes any difference.

    • I came here to say this, exactly.

      I appreciate where you’re coming from, but how many of your victims were shot by “assault weapons?” I’m betting it’s a really small percentage, so why do you want to ban them, specifically? I bet you treat a lot of people injured in drunk driving accidents, too. Do you want to address that by banning only red 4-door Toyota Camrys? After all, the Camry is the number one selling car in the US for the past few years, much like the AR is the number one selling rifle. So the logic holds, right? You’re going to be writing a letter recommending a ban on Camrys?

      Oh. No? Well, then…

    • Don’t question them, they are medical “professionals”….

      I spent part of my graduate training in the 90s at LA County USC.
      We did see multiple gunshot wounds come in.
      Not daily.
      Usually multiple calibers and mixed with multiple tattoos.

      Funny how the differences of opinion between physics staff at Caltech never devolved into shoot outs….

      • Funny how the gunshot wounds, the tattoos, and later, the handcuffs all seem to go together. One might even think that there’s a strong correlation between those observations and stuff going out in society prior to the “victim” arriving at the hospital.

        • Hey! that’s not fair. I have tattoos but am no more predisposed to commit any type of crime.

          p.s. i know you’re talking about thugs.

        • If you’ve never been arrested after having your sorry, bleeding-from-gunshot-wounds, tattooed carcass dumped at the ER doors by your “friends”, then no, I wasn’t talking about you. 😉

        • Robert, are you sure? I think we might have to ban those tattoos. Maybe we can get you to turn them in for a tax credit?

      • It would be nice if there were a word to describe what causes all those trauma cases in inner city hospitals, maybe something like “gang violence.”

      • “Funny how the differences of opinion between physics staff at Caltech never devolved into shoot outs….”

        No, but they have some very strange and cruel ways of getting even!

  6. No mention of all the people they don’t see because they were able to protect themselves because they were armed?

    No mention of all they people they don’t see because someone with a gun protected them?

    That’s weird.

  7. Remember; These are the PPL that will be questioning your children/grandchildren about where dad/grandpa keeps his guns!

  8. Maybe, just maybe, all of that violence is due to something other than guns. Did they ever consider that it could be the drug trade?

  9. It’s sad how they are so politically blinded that they think that would curb any of the violence they deal with. It’s baffling how such intelligent people can’t see the simple fact that it’s criminals committing these acts who will not obey ANY gun law no matter how strict.

    • A few weeks ago I watched some Pre-History Channel documentaries concerning Hitler’s rise to power. Hitler presented himself as a Utopian who would create a nation where art, science and medicine would be weilded like a tool to create a Perfect Nation with no uglyness, poverty, or illness. The artists and doctors bowed down to Hitler like lap dogs. Nazie Doctors created their own Nazie Doctor Korps, wore uniforms and Sieg Heiled each other in the Hospitals, all for the betterment of the German People, of course Genocide was a necessary tool in the creation of Utopia.
      It is happening again, inside America’s hospitals

    • I think that a gun rights group should write a similar letter about the hundreds of thousands of people who die due to medical errors every year and how we need a serious discussion about medical practitioner control.

  10. Gang members have no insurance or money for hospital bills so of course the hospital is going to be against anything that is a burden to them since they are required to treat them.

    • With all the drug money you’d think gangs would have Cadillac insurance plans for their members. It would be a nice bullet point (hah) for prospective gains trying to choose which gang would allow them to progress while synergizing professionally. A good employee insurance plan is important with obamacare coming online.

  11. There is another take-away to all this – and something that we’re going to be seeing more of:

    The political narrative has been established – and any deviation from it will come with consequence from Government programs. You’ll never see such a letter come forward in any official capacity ~supporting~ Gun Rights. The hospital networks and insurers, ever-increasingly intertwined with Government, wouldn’t dare rock that boat on official letterhead.

    They wouldn’t dare talk about the character or background of their patients – also a big ‘no no’ in this debate because the Government roll says ALL gun injuries and death is INNOCENT. They use that statistic to disregard suicide and violent crime alike. And if the topic somehow makes the light of day the ACLU and NAACP will come down on a hospital like a giant farting anvils.

    Bloody sad state of affairs only going to get worse for a long while, -Pk

  12. Aren’t doctors supposed to have a basic education that includes logic and the scientific method? I would suggest they learn what a biased sample is. Also the plural of anecdote is not data.

  13. It stands to reason that hardly any of the injuries “the undersigned” have treated were caused by “assault rifles.” You can do all the things they mentioned with fewer than seven shots… this is just shameless exploitation of the medical profession by totalitarian pinkos.

    For the record, I am paraplegic as a result of a car accident. When I was in rehab, several of my fellow patients were gunshot victims. One of my roommates was shot five times, point blank in the torso with a .45 caliber hand gun. He was in a coma for a year and had horrific surgical scarring on his abdomen, paralyzed just a bit higher than me. I am a T12 and still highly mobile and capable, by the grace of God.

    None of the gunshot victims I knew in rehab were the victims of “assault weapons.” They were the victims of Saturday night specials, little gats and ‘fo-fives’ that nobody has any intention of banning out of fear. They were all ‘urban’ young men as well. America’s problem is a culture of glamorous criminality, not firearms. Our civic virtues have been abandoned.

    The most horrifying thing I saw in rehab was the number of my fellow patients who had botched spinal surgery and had to go under the knife again. I was repeatedly told I had the straightest surgical scar any of the nurses had ever seen and they frequently reminded me how lucky I was not to have to go back under the knife. Medical professionals have nothing to contribute to this so called ‘debate’ on gun violence… they should focus on doing their jobs right the first time. Everyone already knows firearms cause lethal injury, that is what they were designed to do. Harping on this fact reveals the shallowness of the argument against LAWFUL and RESPONSIBLE gun ownership.

    • You had me at “shameless exploitation of the medical profession by totalitarian pinkos”. 🙂

      Great comment, and you should consider submitting a full article to TTAG, with a picture if you’re comfortable doing so.

  14. Where is their letter condemning swimming pools? I would think statistically that would be a much greater “unnecessary and unacceptable threat to our society and to the individuals within it” than assault weapons. Who really NEEDS a swimming pool anyway? Heck you don’t even need a pool to drown in Massachusetts, just need a Kennedy.

    • Or, y’know, suicide. If you could cut suicide in half, you would eliminate 25% of the gun deaths in the US.

      But hey, what do I know — let’s knock 1% off of 2% and call it a day.

  15. This is obviously something the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Ownership has asked the doctors to sign their names to. The wording is always the same, the erroneous phrases, the same propaganda/disinformation.

    Why do well off white people, who live in nice neighborhoods and with their own armed security want to disarm everyone else? Is it racism, elitism or fear?

    • Let’s not be racist. The upper class consists of more than just whites now. It’s a safe bet that a significant number of them are Indian, with a smattering of other non-caucasian races as well.

    • Elitism, fear and bigotry, not racism. We should start referring to them as what they really are… anti-2A BIGOTS.

      They hate firearms and the people who own them because they represent independence in the face of rising collectivism which they have embraced. They think civilians are too stupid to own them responsibly and this makes them afraid. Statistically, I think it is more rational to fear medical malpractice than being shot… especially if you have the option to shoot back.

  16. Holy Crap, they just described almost all of the Vet’s last 10 yrs. All they told us your an adult deal with it.

  17. Well certainly, if you have gang members “shooting it out” you want to go to the good decent dad that is protecting his kids & take all his guns. Lets just say I don’t want any of these “doctors” near me. Thank you, I can do fine with a hacksaw & file, Randy

  18. Are we really supposed to believe that because the trauma to our loved one is caused by a gun we experience some greater distress than if it was done by a car, bat, knife, fall, dog, poison, etc.?

    I love how they label their actions as “heroic” while those who use guns to save their own life and others are scum.

  19. When i was in grad school i walk into a resaerch lab carrying my motorcycle helmet… A doctor on there (I was in an MD/PhD program) says to me… “You ever seen what happens to someone in an accident on one of those?”. He proceeds to explain to me the horrors of motocycle accidents (as if I didn’t already know) to convince me of how stupid I was to ride one. To which I asked… How did you get here today? “My car” he says… “Ever seen what happens to someone in a car accident”?, I asked… The conversation ended there. From the open letter above, I would be interested in knowing when a gunshot victim comes into their ER if they can look at the wounds and tell if the bullets came from an “assult weapon” or if they were fed from a “large capacity magazine”. I would have to guess the answer is ‘no’-a bullet wound is going to be about the same (for any given caliber) regardless of the gun or magazine it came from. Blaming the gun or magazine for a gunshot wound is like blaming a motorcycle for the horrible accident it causes. Its just dumb and that line of thinking will never solve the trues issues that lead to either.

    • I’m sure that most couldn’t tell the difference between a gunshot and an arrow wound unless the arrow was still sticking out. There are some good docs, but many are supremely arrogant, and should be feared if they have a lever of government to pull. ” Have you stopped beating your wife yet?” style questions are a joy when heard from a physician that the cops would readily believe if they were contacted.

  20. The greatest wrong doing of the US Goverment was “de-outlawing” the Communist Party inside America, this insured the destruction of the Republic

    • What, no plague of 5.56 gunshot wounds? Really? Because I heard MILLIONS of people are bring killed by Bushmaster assault rifles every year!

  21. Many times I’ve seen Doctors and other medical personnel outside hospitals in the smoking area puffing on cigs. I don’t have the stats handy but I’m fairly certain smoking kills more people than firearms.

  22. From what little I know of Chicagos gang scene , ill wager most of Boston Generals “clientele” are urban gang members who had it coming. If youre willing to talk the talk about being in da hood,best believe you’ll take a round someday for it. Such people are worth as much pity as the Afghan militiaman who points an RPG at an Apache gunship.

    Don’t want to end up paralyzed after a drive by? Go to school and get your behind out of the hood. If schools too expensive , join the military. In that instance you’ll at least take fire defending your county instead of MLK and 110th Street.

  23. This is great! How many botched operations and how many patients have they buried through their blunders? Hypocrites and feces heads!

  24. Hey Docs, don’t you realize that you guys kill 100,000 folks a year! Check the AMA statistics for these numbers. I believe that the death by firearm rate is significantly lower than that. So, do we ban doctors?

  25. I’m a gun owner, guess that makes me an expert on medical services. Hand over your job, doc, I’m a professional.

  26. This open letter avoids many uncomfortable topics and goes straight for the guns.

    Presumably, the MDs and RNs that signed this letter are smart people. Smart people realize that gang violence is predominantly found in poor areas and is often tied to drug trade.

    The only way to end gun violence in poor, urban areas is hard – very hard. Here is what will work:

    1. End the “war on drugs” – prohibition taught us nothing. Legalize, regulate, and tax. Put drug cartels and street thugs out of business.

    2. Alter public assistance to “encourage” two parent households. Penalize those that breed and run from their responsibilities. Make public assistance dollars (for children) dependent on the identities of both mother and father. If mom doesn’t want to name the father, she gets less money. If the guy is the father, government goes after his assets to support child. If dad is not the father – he is off the hook, and mom gets less money until she names the father.

    3. Give birth control and abortions away for free. I understand this will really stir some emotions, but unwanted children are a burden on all of society. I suspect very few unwanted children turn into model citizens.

    The causes of gun violence are complex societal problems. Fixing these problems is much more difficult than simply banning guns. Unfortunately, no one is really interested in fixing the problem.

  27. The Boston Medical Center will kill more people in a year through malpractice than all the “assault weapons” in Massachusetts in a hundred.

  28. OK, the MD’s want to play this game? Again? I’ve heard this BS before.

    As a result of this, back in the 90’s I started becoming very interested in deaths in the US due to medical errors and comparing those estimates vs. gun deaths. Back in the 90’s, numbers of approximately 160,000 +/- deaths due to “medical misadventure” were being thrown around in estimates and papers at that time.

    Well, fast forward by 10 years. What’s the estimates about 10 years ago for deaths by medical errors that were preventable?

    About 195,000. Cite:

    In other words, while gun deaths have gone down since the 90’s, deaths in the US due to preventable medical errors have gone up.

    These clowns haven’t a leg on which to stand.

  29. “Assault weapons should have no role in a society at peace”. But what about when a society is not at peace (big reason for the 2nd amendment)?

  30. 85% of the men in prison for a 2nd violent offense where raised by single mothers. America has an anti-father culture with more than half our kids being raised in single parent homes with most of those homes run by a single mother. Stop blaming guns which protect good people from bad people. Start going after the roots of the violence.

  31. I’m a paramedic in a Western state. Our area we cover isn’t huge – about 70k people. Lots of legally owned firearms around – many AR pattern rifles. Lots of handguns. If these fellows are right, then we should be up to our ears in firearms related crime …

    Strangely enough, there aren’t many shootings. Its not that nothing bad ever happens – we get the occasional stabbing (I’ve run 2 in the last few months), but shootings are so rare that the yearly count could be done on one hand, with a few fingers left over. Almost all of them involve people who are, shall we say, less than stellar citizens.

    Maybe we just aren’t as civilized as those folks in Boston.


  32. Didn’t Sam Clemens have something to say on this? Best to keep quiet and be thought a fool than send a narcissistic open letter and remove all doubt?

  33. The worst part of this is that in Boston, if they didn’t sign the letter, it would have been counted against them at their next review or who is selected for an upcoming position further on.

    This smells of pure inter-office politics and nothing else.

  34. Ummm, the reason these second rate docs are at BMC is they couldn’t get a job at one of the Harvard hospitals (MGH, BWH, BIDMC). McKalyla Maroney and I are NOT impressed at their credentials.

    Massachusetts + Academic medicine = Liberal mouthpiece.

    Yet more reasons I moved to the South and private practice.

  35. “We believe that military grade/assault type weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips that have the sole purpose of taking human life should have no role in a society at peace.”

    Uh, “a society at peace.”?????

    Bwahahahaha ha ha ha ha ! GASP! Oh, crap. I can’t breath. Are these people really as stupid as they sound? Seems like its not very “peaceful” if you’re getting shot. What a bunch of insuferable retards.


    ROFLMFAO! Why the hell was I born on planet RETARD? These people are playing politics but to those out here that have a brain cell to think with they look like complete morons. Stick to medicine you ignorant, arrogant tools. Maybe you’re good at that. Maybe.

    The ignorant speaking to the stupid.

    • I don’t really care what they’re called. If what-ever-it-is can kill multiple people at one time, then it has no business being in the hands of the public.

      Also, wow. Try to be a little more compassionate towards other people. It really bothers me when people throw around the word retard. I have worked with kids who have autism and down syndrome. They can’t control how they were born. And they have the biggest hearts.

  36. Those medical employees who put their name also exposed their cluelessness with the subject.

    How many of their patients have actually been shot with an AR/AK??

    In my 12+ yrs in the hospital including 5yrs in ER, I have seen none. Plenty of pistol injuries, Car accidents, Drug related, etc.

  37. I’ve noticed a lot of snarky comments on here pointing out that there are very few assault riffle tragedies compared to other gun injuries. Why is there so much anger behind that statement? This letter is not asking to ban guns completely. The MDs/RNs/etc stated that they wanted to have an open discussion about guns. They only implied assault weapons should have further restrictions! According to your argument, sure, there will still be gun deaths with stricter bans on automatic weapons. But any fewer deaths is a victory to me (especially when the guns in question serve absolutely no purpose to the public).

    But just to let you know…. Ever heard of James Holmes in the Colorado shooting at the movie theater? One of the weapons he used was an assault riffle that killed 12 people and injured 58. I’d say that’s significant. For those who say, “well, hammers/knives/tools kill more people a year than automatic weapons”, that may be, but if this man had only been armed with a knife, I doubt he would have been able to injure 58 people before someone stopped him.

    If people (who pass applicable background checks) want to have a gun for protection, or to use it for hunting, etc, then I say go for it. I know of lots of people who responsibly own guns. All my cousins on my father’s side have hunting riffles to hunt deer and ducks. I am sure they are more responsible with their guns than half the people driving on the road today!

    However, what I don’t understand is why it’s okay to allow ANY type of assault riffle/automatic weapon to be purchased by the public. These guns are not meant to protect yourself. They aren’t for hunting. They are meant to kill a lot of people in an efficient manner.

    On the show “Life Flight: Trauma Center Houston” Season 1, episode 5, there was a case of an 18 year old kid who blew his own face off with an assault riffle. He had bought the gun at a gun show the day previously. It was that easy to obtain it.

    Also, don’t think tougher gun restrictions will reduce the number of deaths in a country? Check out the real life example of what happened in Australia:

    Please note Australia also did not ban guns. They just imposed tighter restrictions when buying them.

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