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

 

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