This week brought a sea change- from the despair of the Charleston, S.C. shootings to the hope of the Supreme Court rulings on health care and gay marriage. And we are bouyed by the decisions to bring down the Confederate flag, a painful symbol of the wrong of slavery and opposition to civil rights.
Hope is high that something will change in gun violence and the president called for this change yesterday in his eulogy of the Reverend Clementa Pinckney. Now we physicians can follow the president’s lead and speak strongly about the need to abandon the gun as a way of solving problems. The gun, too, is a wrong symbol, and like the Confederate flag one that many in our country revere. But, when a gun death or injury happens too often it is life altering and wrong.
So today the sheriff is leading a buy back effort at the Brown Chapel in Ypsilanti and Bethesda Bible Church in Pittsfield township. Go to Washtenaw Co Sheriff for details. www.ewashtenaw.org/government/sheriff or @WSheriff for Twitter.
Sonya Lewis and other PPGV doctors will march against gun violence in Detroit at 11 am today. Silence the Violence Parade begins at Church of the Mesiah in Detroit to counter the tragedy of violence in our great city. Join in.
And we can lead by ASKing- the ASK campaign national day was this week, June 21. The question “Is there a gun where my child is plays?” This critical question, perhaps led by “Where do our kids play when they come to your house?” goes to the issue of unlocked, often loaded guns in many homes. Parents are responsible to make sure their kids don’t find and use them. ASK.
We have work to do to become a safer country. We have a history of being leaders. Speaking up about gun violence with colleagues and patients can make a difference. We can have great hope!
PPGV will again partner with the Washtenaw County Law Enforcement in Washtenaw County Gun Safety Week. Please join your physician colleagues at a press conference at 11 am June 22 at the WCSO, 2201 Hogback.
“Washtenaw County and our Washtenaw County Law Enforcement agencies will again be participating in a Washtenaw County Gun Safety Week June 21 through June 27, 2015. We would like Physicians for the Prevention of Gun Violence to be a partner again this year in this endeavor to publicize and educate our community about gun safety issues. Law Enforcement agencies will be giving away free gun locks to the public and information about gun safety.”
Other PPGV news.
Tsvedi Markova, MD, has recently joined PPGV. She is professor and Chair of Family Medicine and Public Health at Wayne State University(WSU). She is Associate Dean for Graduate Medical Education and Designated Institutional Official for Wayne State University sponsored programs. In 2008 she was Michigan Academy of Family Medicine’s (MAFP) Educator of the Year. She has an extensive bio as a clinician, researcher, scholar and medical leader.
She and Pierre Morris MD who chairs WSU’s residency program were instrumental in gaining the support of the entire department’s faculty in writing a strong letter of support to the Michigan Academy urging the MAFP to become a leader in gun violence reduction. The MAFP voted to do this. At a recent coffee Jim Peggs and I were impressed with her commitment not only to medicine and that serving patients well includes her commitment to reducing gun violence.
Sonya Lewis, MD, local psychiatrist and leader of the citizen movement to keep guns out of Michigan schools has become a member of our PPGV Executive Committee. Add your voice to this effort to keep our kids safely in school.
Welcome Drs. Markova and Lewis!
An Ann Arbor church, the Episcopal Church of the Incarnation on Lohr Rd. in Pittsfield Township
got its Orange On June 7 for National Gun Violence Awareness Month. Almost all the congregation showed up aiming to make us safer!
PPGV member Kathleen Howard targets many of our issues in this Op-Ed.
June is National Gun Violence Awareness Month. And June 2 is the first National Gun Violence Awareness Day. We are to wear orange. Commit to wearing orange and engaging patients and colleagues in a conversation about gun violence on June 2. (See. http://wearorange.org).
For several years the Brady Campaign and the American Academy of Pediatrics has led us in the ASK Campaign in June. ASK is the acronym- Asking Saves Kids- and one question- is there an unlocked gun where my child plays? Brady estimates there are about 1 home in 3 with children have a gun and 1.7 million children in homes with loaded, unlocked guns. This leads to thousands of accidental injuries and deaths. (See ASK. http://askingsaveskids.org/content/about-ask)
My pediatric colleagues add an initiating question, “Where do our kids play when they come to your house?” This helps to go to the question “Are there guns in the home?” and then the question “Are they unlocked or stored safely?” “Where are they kept?” “Can the kids go into that room?”
These questions have somehow provoked attempts across the country to “gag the doctors” and make it illegal to ask about guns. Most of us physicians love and value this privilege of asking personal questions in a respectful way. It’s our privilege, really our right and responsibility, to shine light on personal problems that may help our patients. So I am angry with those who would interfere with our doctor-patient relationship and demand, even outlaw this responsibility to seek the best health for our patients. These legislators do not represent good medicine and for the most part are not doctors. And these interactions about guns like our questions about auto safety, drug use, depression and suicide risk, etc. are arguably the most important thing we do- they can save lives. In primary care they may save more lives than antibiotic prescriptions.
Gun questions are now usually part of a standardized health history. But, in Michigan, our legislature recently passed a law making it illegal to use the Freedom of Information Act to find out whether a neighbor has a registered gun! So a personal question is what can we physicians do to protect our patients and ourselves from becoming victims of gun lobby control? Our Physicians for the Prevention of Gun Violence is on the cutting edge of that question. Recently seven national medical societies added their voices. See http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=2151828#Background. National Physicians Alliance is another strong voice with 10 fellows in Gun Violence medicine. I am a member of their Gun Violence Task Force begun this year. (View or join. http://npalliance.org/)
Also, Sonya Lewis is leading the effort to remove guns from schools closing the loophole allowing persons with concealed carry permits to open carry in classrooms. Please help by signing the petition http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/keep-guns-out-of-michigan-1
We are becoming organized and vocal in our effort to keep our profession whole with the right to ask any reasonable question and act on the answer.