Doctors Revolt After N.R.A. Tells Them to ‘Stay in Their Lane’ on Gun Policy


“Annals of Internal Medicine is not anti-gun; we are anti-bullet holes in people,” Dr. Laine said in a statement to The New York Times. “And if we are biased, the bias is toward counseling our patients to reduce their risk of firearm injury and toward evidence-based solutions to the public health crisis that firearm injury has become.”

Many doctors shared a similar message to the N.R.A.: For physicians who treat gunshot victims, the topic of gun policy is absolutely “in their lane.” More than 35,000 people in the United States are killed in firearm-related deaths every year, according to an annual average compiled from C.D.C. data by Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun control group.

Dr. Robert Young, a New York psychiatrist who is the editor of the website for the group Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership, said that the N.R.A.’s characterization of “anti-gun doctors” is correct. He accused doctor specialty groups of holding an anti-gun bias that trickles down into their medical journals.

“Doctors are not the experts on gun safety,” Dr. Young, who is an N.R.A. member, said in an interview. “You have to be an experienced firearms owner and have some training to know about gun safety. Physicians don’t unless they have that training.”

For years, Dr. Haughey said she struggled to understand any upside to allowing people to have guns. In heavily populated areas like the Bronx, it is too easy for an innocent person to be caught in crossfire or for someone to shoot into a crowd, she said.

But at a recent conference for medical professionals, Dr. Haughey heard another doctor speak about how her father, who lives in a rural area, was attacked and the police said they could not get there soon. He used his gun to keep the assailant at bay, the doctor said.

Dr. Haughey said she came away with a new understanding about gun ownership and the belief that the country could find middle ground between allowing guns and banning them. And to find a resolution, she said, doctors must be included.

“We have a front-seat window view that the N.R.A. is trying to close and say, ‘Ignore it,’” Dr. Haughey said.


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