As a General Surgeon trained in New York City, I understand first hand the impact of firearm violence on individuals and families. To suggest that “gun control” historically leads to the “extermination” of dissidents is disingenuous at best.
It was the instillation of autocratic and authoritarian governments that lead to the deaths of millions of people in Turkey, Russia, Germany, China, Cambodia, Guatemala and Uganda, not the inability of the people in those countries to own guns. (Letter to the Editor, 3/30/21, WMI) The laws passed in each of these examples made it illegal to own a gun. It was not gun control. It was total government control of the lives of their citizens.
Let’s start by using more accurate language. It’s not truly “gun control.” It’s the need for reform of the laws that allow citizens to legally purchase and own guns. There is no threat to the second amendment in recent laws that have been introduced to limit access to guns. It’s an attempt by those concerned, like the general and trauma surgeons in the emergency rooms throughout our country, to reform the laws that allow individuals to own a lethal weapon. “Gun reform” better describes the efforts to keep guns in the hands of responsible citizens and out of the holsters of those who are mentally unstable or have a criminal background.
I am a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons (ACS). I attended an excellent forum at the Fall Congress in 2019 discussing the public health effects of gun violence. The despair that surgeons face, especially in urban areas, is real. Having to tell yet another loved one that their family member has been killed by gun fire is difficult. The ACS has recently published this statement:
“We have lost patients, family members, and colleagues to firearm violence. As we remain on the frontlines treating seriously injured patients who arrive in trauma centers across the U.S., the ACS confirms its commitment to addressing this public health epidemic by applying a consensus-based approach to solve the problem, as well as addressing intimate partner violence.”
The ACS also has published a path forward to addressing the gun violence epidemic:
“The following revised Statement on Firearm Injuries was approved in January 2013 by the Officers of the American College of Surgeons and its Board of Regents. It replaces the February 2000 statement that was developed by the Committee on Trauma and approved by the College's Board of Regents — that statement replaced an initial statement addressing firearm injuries developed in 1991.
Because violence inflicted by guns continues to be a daily event in the United States and mass casualties involving firearms threaten the health and safety of the public, the American College of Surgeons supports:
1. Legislation banning civilian access to assault weapons, large ammunition clips, and munitions designed for military and law enforcement agencies.
2. Enhancing mandatory background checks for the purchase of firearms to include gun shows and auctions.
3. Ensuring that health care professionals can fulfill their role in preventing firearm injuries by health screening, patient counseling, and referral to mental health services for those with behavioral medical conditions.
4. Developing and promoting proactive programs directed at improving safe gun storage and the teaching of non-violent conflict resolution for a culture that often glorifies guns and violence in media and gaming.
5. Evidence-based research on firearm injury and the creation of a national firearm injury database to inform federal health policy.”
We need to foster a healthy and honest debate on the issue of gun reform. We need to immediately address the health care epidemic of gun violence. Stonewalling, Misrepresentation of the facts and denial can no longer be tolerated. Collecting accurate data is essential to getting a true picture of the extent of this epidemic. Finally passing laws that keep guns out of the hands of people who murder our friends, our family, our colleagues and even themselves , are our best chances at decreasing the number of horrific deaths due to gun violence in our country.
Gregory Jarrin, MD, FACS