NRA tweet warns doctors to ‘stay in their lane’ over gun control

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By Maggie Fox

A social media war erupted between doctors and the National Rifle Association Thursday, just as 12 people were shot and killed at a California nightclub and hours before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new figures showing gun deaths on the rise across the country.

Doctors and medical officials have increasingly taken on gun violence as a public health issue. Last month, the American College of Physicians issued new guidelines for doctors to follow in helping protect patients from firearms dangers, and published several reports on gun violence in its flagship publication, the Annals of Internal Medicine.

“We need to ask our patients about firearms, counsel them on safe firearm behaviors, and take further action when an imminent hazard is present,” Dr. Garen Wintemute, of the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California Davis Medical Center, wrote in one editorial in the magazine.

On Wednesday, the NRA took issue with the ACP, which represents more than 150,000 internal medicine specialists. “Someone should tell self-important anti-gun doctors to stay in their lane,” the group tweeted.

Doctors across Twitter piled back on.

“We are not anti-gun; we are anti-bullet holes in our patients,” retorted emergency medicine specialist Dr. Esther Choo of Oregon Health & Science University in a tweet Thursday morning.

Dr. Joseph Sakran, director of emergency general surgery at Johns Hopkins Medicine, tweeted his dismay over the gun advocacy group’s “divisive statement.”

“We take care of these patients every day. Where are you when I’m having to tell all those families their loved one has died?,” he wrote.

And the Annals of Internal Medicine, the influential journal for the ACP, tweeted a pledge to its 33,000 followers to talk to at-risk patients about gun violence.

Doctors started a hashtag group #ThisisOurLane to argue for action to reduce gun violence. It quickly filled up with comments from medical professionals and supporters pointing out the effects gun violence has on them and their patients.

Doctors have increasingly fought for more freedom to research gun violence and deaths and to speak to patients about the risks. In Florida, lawmakers sought to prevent doctors from asking about guns in the home but in 2017 a federal appeals court ruled against the law.

And Congress had quietly limited CDC research into firearms violence using carefully worded legislation and budget cuts that precisely matched the CDC’s budget for such research.

Former President Barack Obama directed the CDC to resume gun research.

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