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NRA to MDs: Gun control not your business

Little attention was paid in the media and elsewhere when the American College of Physicians and Surgeons (ACP) updated its position on gun control at the end of October.  

The new proposals — keeping people with domestic violence history from buying guns, allowing families to get guns legally taken from a member at risk of hurting himself or others, safe gun storage and banning assault weapons, large capacity magazines and bump stocks — were both reasonable and unsurprising from a group dealing with gun violence and its victims every day.  

The ACP has advocated gun control legislation for decades and was prompted to update its firearms policy days after the Oct. 27 killing of 11 worshippers at a Pittsburgh synagogue.

But the National Rifle Association, which hadn’t commented on the synagogue killings, did notice what the doctors were saying and didn’t like it at all.

“Someone should tell self-important anti-gun doctors to stay in their lane,” said a statement tweeted by the NRA, which has evolved over the years from a gun safety group to a marketing arm of gun manufacturers.

In a bit of unfortunate timing, the NRA attacked the anti-gun doctors on Nov. 7, not only just 11 days after the synagogue massacre, but hours before a dozen people, mostly college kids, were gunned down at a country-western dance hall in California.

That got noticed, in a spectacularly angry response from medical professionals. “This isn’t just my lane. It’s my f----ing highway,” one forensic pathologist wrote. “Who do you think removes bullets from spines and repairs (or tries to) livers blasted by an AR-15? The tooth fairy? This is literally medicine’s lane.”

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A Bronx doctor who has cared for victims of gun violence for 25 years told the NRA, “Come into my lane. Tell one mother her child is dead with me, then we can talk,” according to The New York Times.

The comments appeared online and thousands — many with accompanying photographs — flooded the NRA headquarters.  

There was considerable rage in the doctors’ attacks on the NRA’s arrogant statement but also considerable thought. Here’s one of many reported in The Washington Post:

“If a virus killed the way guns do — randomly, unpredictably, 20 children in five minutes in one place, 58 people in 15 minutes someplace else — people would be screaming for action from the medical and scientific community.” 

The killings of 11 kids, who came to Borderline Bar and Grill to line dance, and one courageous sheriff’s deputy who went after the killer, occurred the day after the 2018 mid-term elections and the political recipients of the NRA’s generosity moved as swiftly as the doctors.

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Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee had been a senator-elect for just a few hours when the nation experienced the second mass murder in two weeks but, after 16 years in the U.S. House, she knew exactly what to do. And that was to quickly appear on Fox News with her thoughts and prayers.

But before she got around to thinking and praying, Blackburn cautioned against about any rushing to judgment about 23 innocents killed by single gunmen in two weeks.

“What we do is say, How do we make certain that we protect the Second Amendment and protect our citizens?” said Blackburn.  “We’ve always done that in this country,” adding that mental health issues need to be addressed, as if we hadn’t had mentally disturbed people killing with guns before. Then, remembering, she offered those thoughts and prayers.

The Second Amendment might have come first in Blackburn’s thoughts and prayers because she was the number one recipient of individual contributions from the NRA this election cycle — $10,800. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was close with $9950 and both were elected. But in harder to detect money, NRA donations laundered through other special interests, she also received a reported $1.25 million, mainly with those “nonpartisan” ads you saw in Connecticut.  

In the process of researching the NRA paying off politicians who regularly block meaningful gun legislation, I was able to correct an impression that the NRA gave to both parties.

In a way, that’s true if you consider giving 93 percent to Republican candidates and 7 percent to Democrats being bipartisan. The 2018 list headed by Blackburn included four Democrats, all House members like Collin Peterson of Minnesota who has voted against control measures and hate crime laws and is a member with four GOP congressmen of the Second Amendments, a country rock band. Then there was Sanford Bishop of Alabama, with a 93 percent NRA voting rating. He was also voted one of the most corrupt members of Congress by the nonpartisan Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics.

There were also six Democrats given contributions of $13 each, presumably to show the NRA has a sense of humor. One of them was a Senate candidate, Jacky Rosen of Nevada.  She won.  

 

Simsbury resident Dick Ahles is a retired journalist. Email him at rahles1@outlook.com.