American College of Physicians President on Gun Violence: This Is Our Lane

November 12, 2018

By Max Godnick

This is our lane.

That was the rallying cry from doctors that sounded across the United States after the NRA appeared to mock a position paper from the American College of Physicians earlier this month. Following an October report on "Reducing Firearm Injuries and Death in the United States", the advocacy group found itself on the receiving end of an NRA tweet instructing doctors to "stay in their lane" on the national gun-control debate.

"Our lane is taking care of people, our lane is saving lives, and our lane is really public health and taking a look at these questions from a scientific perspective," Dr. Ana Maria Lopez, president of the ACP, said Monday in an interview on Cheddar.

The NRA's barb inspired hundreds of doctors and nurses to share photos on social media depicting first-hand accounts of how gun violence affects their lives every day. The graphic imagery includes pictures of blood-stained operating rooms and other visuals of the aftermath of shootings around the country. In most cases, the images are paired with either #ThisIsOurLane or similarly biting responses to the NRA's initial message.

"These are folks who, on a daily basis, are saving lives and are experiencing this," Dr. Lopez said, adding that she was "very surprised" that the back and forth has taken on a life of its own online.

According to Lopez, last week's tragedy at a country-music bar in Thousand Oaks, California, was the 307th mass shooting of 2018.

"There have not been 307 days [in the year]," she added, pointing out that the NRA's tweet was posted just hours before the shooting that left 12 people dead.

The position paper in question assesses the rise in firearm-related injuries as a "public health crisis" requiring the nation's "immediate attention."

"We're very concerned that this is a public-health epidemic," Dr. Lopez said. "It's very important for the dialogue that we be able to work together to save lives."

Now, the ACP's priority remains securing the necessary funding to properly research and understand "the best approaches to help address this escalating violence," Dr. Lopez said. But, with conservatives still controlling the White House and Senate, she said the medical community's hands are "somewhat tied" moving forward.

But the social campaign highlighted how passionately many doctors feel about the issue ー and how personally they are affected by gun deaths.

"There is hardly anyone in the country who is not in some way connected to someone who has been touched by this personally," Dr. Lopez said.

For full interview click here.