In today’s “stay in your lane/this is our lane” news…
“Doctors don’t have a gun problem; they have a bullet hole problem,” [Dr. John] Fildes said, adding that a renewed focus on firearm safety, prevention and enforcing existing gun laws would go a long way toward saving lives.
This focus on prevention is also well-trod in the field of medicine, with doctors using similar methods to tackle past public health crises, such as HIV, smoking, motor vehicle deaths or environmental hazards and pollution. First, they study a problem to identify its patterns and root causes. Then they work to design policies in an effort to reduce those negative effects, rather than just treat them as they arise.
When it comes to the issue of firearm deaths and injuries, the political polarization has made many doctors hesitant to speak up, said Lu, the New Mexico trauma surgeon. By not speaking out, he said, doctors may have unintentionally sanitized the shootings that rip through American streets, homes, schools and ultimately hospitals tens of thousands of times each year.
“Americans are shielded from death in general,” Lu said, adding that it’s one reason for the lack of compassion and empathy in the gun debate.
Yet it’s people who lack this exposure, who likely have never seen a gunshot up close and hopefully never will, who are now telling doctors that gun violence is none of their business.
“Unless you’ve had someone die in your hands, that’s easy to say,” Lu said.