Immediately after 12 people were killed in a mass shooting in Thousand Oaks, California on Thursday, doctors and medical professionals posted on social media their experiences treating victims of gun violence.
It continued a trend that started the night before after a tweet by the NRA mocked the medical community’s call for the reduction of firearms, telling “anti-gun doctors to stay in their own lane.”
The NRA was responding to a series of recent articles in a recent issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine calling for public health research into gun violence.
Hours after the Thousand Oaks massacre, doctors and other medical professionals began quoting the NRA’s original tweet, citing years of research in public health and medicine that consistently showed that firearm availability was linked to gun violence and death.
One of those tweets was from Joseph Sakran, a trauma surgeon at Johns Hopkins who was a victim of gun violence.
When Sakran was 17 years old, he was shot when a fight broke out after a high school football game and a gun was fired into the crowd. The bullet landed in Sakran’s throat, nearly killing him. The experience encouraged him to become a trauma surgeon.
“When you look at gun violence in our country, we have a public health crisis,” he told The Daily Beast. “This is probably in my opinion one of the worst blemishes on our character as a nation. Over 30,000 people are dying annually, not to mention the two to three people injured per death. This is not comparable to what we’re seeing in any other country.”
He knows that first-hand in Baltimore.
“When I go out to the waiting room and tell families [about their loved one’s health], I think of my own family. I am about to tell them the worst possible news they can get. For the NRA to say that we shouldn’t be involved is ludicrous. It is so insulting and shows a lack of understanding and frankly, a lack of willingness to change the status quo.”
Megan Ranney, an emergency physician at Brown University, was also angry at the NRA’s tweet, saying gun violence was a public-health epidemic.
“This is an epidemic on par with sepsis or Parkinson’s disease,” said Ranney, who is also the chief research officer of Affirm, a nonprofit seeking to make gun violence research a public health priority. “We’ve dealt with other epidemics like HIV by doing research. HIV is now a survivable illness. We haven’t done that for guns. Science can fix it.”
Which is why she took issue with the NRA’s tweet.
“As doctors, we see the effects of gun violence every day,” she said after a deep breath. “That we don't have a right to talk about gun violence... It's incredibly tone deaf. Who do they think took care of the victims of Thousand Oaks, the kids who get shot every day, the suicide victims? It's doctors.”