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

Whiteriver

(8) comments

ronzim

Dr. Jarrin: This is an excellent piece on gun safety needs. There is one thing missing, however, and that is the creation of a national, mandatory firearms register which I describe below in my answer to “Gun Control”, Mar 30, 2021. Without a register, it is not possible to conduct effective public policy concerning the endemic health problems arising from the continued failure of government to do its job in this matter. It will also be necessary to conduct a comprehensive mental health examination for prospective gun possessors and a repeat exam every five years. Without these measures there can never be any effective public health policy to deal with this tragic health emergency.

2rusty

What we NEED is to recognize that criminals and nuts are never going to obey the law. Get the criminals and nuts locked up and the rest of us will be much safer. The sane, law-abiding people are not the prob;em.

pxllr

In a similar line, good drivers are not the problem. It is the criminals that do not obey the laws anyway. There are laws and regulations defining safe driving practices and violators are punished by fines and revoking their privileges. It would be neat if there were similar laws that were actually upheld regarding guns. Expand background checks. Make the background check database accurate and current. Register firearm owners with regular renewals. Concealed carry permits are every 5 years, so there is a precedence for it. I agree with a mental health check, but the problem is who defines that mental health status? Grey area there. But let's at least start with something. The NRA testified in Congress in the 90s supporting Universal Background checks. That sounds like a good place to start?

xpdsniper

Maybe yo need to understand our 2nd amendment that shall NOT be infringed.

An Analogy

"A well-educated electorate being necessary to the preservation of a free society, the right of the people to read and compose books shall not be infringed."

Obviously this does not mean that only well-educated voters have the right to read or write books. Nor does it mean that the right to read books of one's choosing can be restricted to only those subjects which lead to a well-educated electorate.

The purpose of this provision is: although not everyone may end up being well-educated, enough people will become well-educated to preserve a free society.

Nor can it be construed to deny one's pre-existing right to read books if there are not enough well-educated people to be found. The right to read books of one's choosing is not granted by the above statement. The rationale given is only one reason for not abridging that right, there are others as well.

Similarly the Second Amendment states, the people from whom a necessary and well-regulated militia will be composed, shall not have their right to keep and bear arms infringed.

It was the Founders' desire "that every man be armed" such that from the "whole body of the people" (militia) a sufficient number would serve in the well-regulated militia.

"Before a standing army can rule the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretence, raised in the United States."

pxllr

In the days of the founding fathers, there was no standing army to defend the new country. Every adult male was a member of the militia and was required to train and possess a weapon. If they were caught with that weapon loaded in their home, they lost the privilege of having that firearm. They were not allowed to wander the streets indiscriminately with a loaded weapon.

You state.

It was the Founders' desire "that every man be armed" such that from the "whole body of the people" (militia) a sufficient number would serve in the well-regulated militia.

So what well-regulated government established militia are you a member of and that you train with?

pxllr

If I might add in, there already exists that Well-regulated militia that you talk about in your comment. It is the National Guard and the military Reserves (Army, Navy, etc) those well-regulated militias satisfy the exact definition of such. Are you an active participating member of one of those groups?

Vtrone

2rusty, re: your post of Apr. 10,2021 1:05pm. What would you call a person that believes only in the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution and yet disregards all the rest of the Constitution and constitutional jurisprudence? Would that fit your description of an ignorant nut? The United States Constitution is the law of the land and it provides ways to peacefully overturn unjust laws as well as for the peaceful transfer of power. So, for a person whose primary purpose of owning a firearm is to use against the constitution and the United States of America in a violent insurrection because of a percieved unjust law.Would that person would qualify as an insurrectionist, unamerican, traitor, paranoid,delusional and intellectually deficient person. Definitely not sane.Those are the persons you say should not have acess to guns. The republican majority Supreme Court agrees with you and said so in the DC v Heller case. "....like most Rights,the Right secured by the 2nd Amendment is not unlimited ...." Criminals, the mentally unstable,(paranoids, delusionals) can be legally, constitutionally denied acess to guns.

ronzim

Vtrone is right on the mark. But before anyone can be denied access to firearms on the basis of societal standards for possession, we must know who those persons are, as well as where the firearms are. I know of no other way to identify such persons, before they act horrifically, then by mental health examinations and background investigations, always bearing in mind that we are looking for a very small segment of the population because most mentally ill persons are not violent.

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