Doc­tor re­acts to NRA’s tweet

Sur­geon turns to Twit­ter af­ter gun ad­vo­cates tell doc­tors to ‘stay in their lane’

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - FRONT PAGE -

When the Na­tional Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion tweeted Nov. 7 that doc­tors should “stay in their lane” on the topic of gun con­trol, that mes­sage did not sit well with Dr. Joseph Sakran.

The Johns Hop­kins Hos­pi­tal trauma sur­geon is him­self a vic­tim of gun vi­o­lence and has been a vo­cal ad­vo­cate for fund­ing more re­search of what he calls “a uniquely Amer­i­can prob­lem.”

So Sakran launched a Twit­ter cam­paign, which in­cludes an ac­count called @ThisIsOurLane, fol­low­ing the up­roar from mem­bers of the med­i­cal com­mu­nity over the NRA tweet.

The new ac­count has gar­nered more than 12,500 fol­low­ers and is geared to­ward med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als propos­ing so­lu­tions to pre­vent firearm in­jury and death.

The NRA first tweeted a link Nov. 7 to a com­men­tary on doc­tors’ roles in ad­vo­cat­ing for gun con­trol. Ac­com­pa­ny­ing the com­men­tary link, the NRA tweeted “Some­one should tell self-im­por­tant anti-gun doc­tors to stay in their lane. Half of the ar­ti­cles in An­nals of In­ter­nal Medicine are push­ing for gun con­trol. Most up­set­ting, how­ever, the med­i­cal com­mu­nity seems to have con­sulted NO ONE but them­selves.”

The NRA did not re­spond to re­quests for com­ment.

Sakran called the NRA’s mes­sage a “gross es­ti­ma­tion” of what doc­tors have to con­trib­ute to re­duc­ing firearm deaths, he said Mon­day.

“You know, when I saw it I was very sur­prised be­cause I think that type of mes­sage just demon­strates the lack of un­der­stand­ing of how com­plex a prob­lem this is and their in­abil­ity to want to move the nee­dle for­ward on this is­sue,” Sakran said.

Sakran has ex­pe­ri­enced the phys­i­cal dev­as­ta­tion of a gun shot wound first hand. When he was 17 years old, he was shot in the throat dur­ing a fight af­ter a foot­ball game. He had mul­ti­ple surg­eries to help him breathe and speak, and the ex­pe­ri­ence in­spired him to be­come a trauma sur­geon.

Sakran be­lieves Amer­i­cans should search for com­mon ground on ad­dress­ing gun vi­o­lence. He is frus­trated that na­tional con­ver­sa­tions about firearm safety seem to fol­low mass shoot­ings, which he added are only a frac­tion of the prob­lem. In Bal­ti­more, more than 200 peo­ple have died from gun­shots this year.

“Peo­ple on both sides want to po­lar­ize the is­sue,” he said. “This is not us ver­sus them.”

His mes­sage to the NRA and fol­low­ers of his Twit­ter cam­paign is that gun vi­o­lence is a prob­lem that re­quires a va­ri­ety of stake­hold­ers, he said.

“The med­i­cal com­mu­nity is front and cen­ter,” Sakran said. “We are the peo­ple on the front line. We are the ones that have to care for these pa­tients day in and day out.”

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