Almost 25 years ago, at age 17, I was nearly killed after a high school football game when a fight broke out and a .38 caliber bullet ripped through my throat rupturing my windpipe. Despite a prolonged hospital stay and a paralyzed vocal cord, I survived thanks to the multidisciplinary Trauma Team at Inova Fairfax Hospital. Most 17-year-olds have no idea what to do with their lives or what career paths to take. I was inspired by my experience and that inspiration led me to become a trauma surgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
Every time I operate on a victim of gun violence ... everytime I look at the faces of those mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, I realize I am about to shatter their world. Far too often I have to tell families that their loved ones have died. I think back to my own experiences, and reflect on what my family must have felt at that moment all those years ago.
For the NRA to tell me and the medical community to “stay in our lane” is not only insensitive, it’s irresponsible. Doctors, nurses, medics, and other medical professionals deal with the consequences of gun violence on a daily basis. We see first-hand the lives taken by gun violence and the damage done to survivors. We are facing a public health crisis. Some people want to polarize the debate. However, this isn’t a Democratic or a Republican issue - this is a common-sense issue.
Part of the solution to diagnose and treat the gun violence epidemic is obtaining more robust data through research. We need to develop and explore the efficacy of life-saving solutions. Solutions like appropriating federal dollars for gun violence research, expanding Brady background checks to all gun sales, and expanding and enforcing extreme risk laws to temporarily remove guns from people in crisis.
As with any public health crisis, gun violence is a problem that no one person or group can face alone. That is why I donate my time to the Brady Campaign and Center to Prevent Gun Violence as a Board member. Brady has a proven record of successfully implementing life-saving gun laws like the Brady background check legislation. Every person can make a difference, and here is what you can do today:
- Follow us @ThisIsOurLane, and add #ThisIsOurLane to tweets
- Sign our petition asking Congress to make comprehensive gun reform a priority for the first 100 days
- Make a gift to support Brady’s work
I am tired of seeing victims of gun violence. We need common sense gun laws and we need them now. Please join this movement. With your help, we will make sure that the next hashtag is not #YourCommunity.