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The Experts Weigh In on Gun Violence

May 5th, 2015 | Posted by in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Harvard’s David Hemenway, arguably the nation’s foremost expert on gun violence had a problem. The press often asked him for his opinion on gun violence issues and after he gave it he found they sought an opposite opinion. He felt that his was the majority opinion, but it was not treated that way. He was told that journalists would only treat his studies as conclusive when the literature showed a preponderance of opinion on one side. So he set out to survey his colleagues to see whether he could show that excess guns and lax laws were behind our marked excess in gun violence compared to other industrialized countries. This is what he found.

” I decided to determine objectively, through polling, whether there was scientific consensus on firearms. What I found won’t please the National Rifle Assn. 

My first step was to put together a list of relevant scientists. I decided that to qualify for the survey the researcher should have published on firearms in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, and that he or she should be an active scientist — someone who had published an article in the last four years. I was interested in social science and policy issues, so I wanted the articles to be directly relevant. I was not interested in scientists doing research in forensics, history, medical treatment, psychiatric issues, engineering or non-firearms (for example, nail guns, electron guns).”


A 2014 meta-analysis, conducted by researchers at UC San Francisco, of the scientific studies on guns and suicide concluded that access to firearms increases the risk of suicide. Similarly, the 2012 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention from the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention and the U.S. Surgeon General concluded that “firearm access is a risk factor for suicide in the United States.”

Of course it’s possible to find researchers who side with the NRA in believing that guns make our society safer, rather than more dangerous. As I’ve shown, however, they’re in the minority.

Scientific consensus isn’t always right, but it’s our best guide to understanding the world. Can reporters please stop pretending that scientists, like politicians, are evenly divided on guns? We’re not.”

David Hemenway is a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health and director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center.

A New Ball Game

April 11th, 2015 | Posted by admin in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Time for Docs to “Get our Game Face on” – Gun Violence
I love basketball! As I watched the NCAA finals last Monday night I loved the fierceness of the game and the desire to win and the strong team play. It didn’t really matter who won. It was a dog fight and both teams showed us their mettle. They wanted to win badly. They were a proud bunch. Like doctors can be at our best.
Taking a stand counts. Medical societies are joining together- our team- to try to get in the game that has been dominated by the NRA, gun companies, and many politicians. Nationally 8 medical societies have pledged to work harder to make us safe from guns:

Firearm-Related Injury and Death in the United States: A Call to Action From 8 Health Professional Organizations and the American Bar Association. Ann Intern Med. 2015;162(7):513-516. doi:10.7326/M15-0337

In Ann Arbor the school board recently made a strong statement about the determination to keep guns out of schools and allow kids to concentrate on their studies.
Meanwhile in Michigan some of our societies are pledging more leadership on this issue. It’s critical that they do so, as little by little Michigan is becoming less safe under our present legislature. For instance, they passed a bill that prevents a citizen from using the Freedom of Information Act to see if a neighbor has a gun license. Formerly, a parent could have checked to see if their child was playing in a home with guns. And last month over PPGV opposition, they did away with local gun licensing boards. These boards with a sheriff, prosecutor, and state police representative kept a small number of people from obtaining gun licenses and undoubtedly saved lives.
Now Senator Mike Green, beloved by the NRA and ALEC wants to stop open carry in schools in favor of “specially trained” concealed carry. He is readying a new bill. This doesn’t inspire me with a sense of relief that safety is going to win out, and Green’s dismissal of any expert argument by physicians on the above bills gives one pause. However, the call from our medical societies has gone out: Get in the Game! Get your Game Face On! You are a doctor, and you should have something to say about how society works.

Emergency Medicine Physicians Urge Prevention of Gun Violence

April 4th, 2015 | Posted by admin in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

NEWS | March 25, 2015

(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) —

In an editorial posted online today in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, Garen J. Wintemute and Megan Ranney, two practicing emergency medicine physicians from the University of California, Davis, and Brown University — both thought leaders at the forefront of finding solutions to the public health crisis of gun violence — urge their colleagues to take direct action to protect the health and safety of patients and communities.

Their editorial follows the Feb. 24 call to action by eight health professional organizations, including the American College of Emergency Physicians, and the American Bar Association, to reduce firearm injuries and deaths in the U.S. — unprecedented support that suggests mobilization to prevent firearm violence may be underway.

“Firearm violence causes nearly as many deaths as motor vehicle crashes,” said Garen J. Wintemute, an emergency medicine professor at UC Davis and a national authority on evidence-based strategies to prevent firearm violence. “Firearms are involved in most homicides and suicides, and the number of suicides by firearm is increasing — especially among older white men.

“Emergency medicine physicians have limited opportunities to prevent a death once a shooting has occurred, because most people who die from their wounds do so where they are shot. Gun ownership or having a gun in the household is a well-documented risk factor for a violent death. For that reason, we believe physicians should also work to help prevent shootings,” he said.

The authors describe how America successfully reduced motor-vehicle-related deaths by better vehicle and roadway design and public policies that make driving under the influence a crime. Yet no comparable public-health campaign focused on reducing gun violence has been launched.

The authors particularly emphasize the need for a national policy requiring background checks on all transfers of firearms to help prevent access to firearms by those who are prohibited from having them. They recommend adding two other high-risk groups to the list of individuals who are prohibited from purchasing firearms. These include persons with a history of violent misdemeanor convictions, such as assault and battery and domestic violence, as well as those with a documented history of addiction and alcohol abuse.

“Controlled studies of felons, those who have committed violent misdemeanors and persons prohibited for mental-health reasons have all shown reductions in risk for future violence of 25 percent or more when these individuals are denied firearm purchases,” said Megan Ranney, an emergency medicine physician and director of the Emergency Digital Health Innovation program at Rhode Island Hospital and the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

The authors also address mental illness and gun violence. While they agree with recommendations that focus on behavior and expanded access to treatment, they emphasize that serious mental illness directly accounts for only 4 percent of interpersonal violence. In contrast, mental illness is associated with between 47 and 74 percent of suicides. The risk of firearm injury increases when mental illness coexists with alcohol abuse, drug abuse and a history of prior violence.

“Physicians need to include questions about firearms when assessing risk of violence in their patients, and need to act on the information, especially when patients are expressing thoughts of dangerousness to themselves or others, are intoxicated or are in the emergency department for a violence-related injury,” Ranney said.

At a time when civilian fatalities from gunshot wounds for 2004 to 2013 have outnumbered combat fatalities from World War II, the authors welcome the unprecedented support from leading organizations of health and legal professionals for policy recommendations to reduce gun violence.

“Physicians can take direct action to protect the health and safety of patients and communities,” Wintemute said. “While we may not all agree on all the specifics, enough of us will agree on enough of them to make a difference for the better.”

We win Gov’s Veto on Senate 789. Now it is Senate 34.

February 23rd, 2015 | Posted by admin in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

About 2 weeks ago PPGV was part of an effort to defeat Senate Bill 789 that would allow some persons with protective orders against them to obtain a concealed gun permit. Governor Snyder vetoed that bill and made the New York Times and other news while doing it!
Now we are facing a new bill- SB 34. This bill lacks the domestic violence abuser problem, but still poses a public danger according to Daniel Webster MD, a national expert from Johns Hopkins.
The bill’s sponsors say it streamlines the process to a concealed carry permit. To more critical eyes it omits the county gun board made up of sheriff, prosecutor, and others. Instead of the sheriff doing a background check that would be done by the state police. Local eyes would be removed and the process slightly shortened and made less in cost $90 down from $110. But the state police have said it would take about 50 of their partrol officers and $8 million. They originally opposed it.
Michigan has 450,000 CPLs now! And most recently 87, 000 applications a year of which 3-4% were denies and about 250 were denied by local boards. But, these were important denials according to Dr. Webster.
“The best research on the topic of shall issue vs. discretionary concealed carry laws shows evidence that no discretion shall issue laws lead to more gun violence. There is also research showing that many individuals who are not prohibited from possessing guns to keep in their home – legal gun owners – are not so law abiding and most objective people and public safety officials would look at their backgrounds and conclude that it’s too risky for the person to be allowed to carry a concealed loaded firearm outside of their homes. Promoters of nondiscretionary concealed gun policies or no restrictions on concealed carry try to perpetuate a myth that all legal gun owners are God-fearing, rock-solid individuals who are poised to be heroes to take down the next person who attempts a mass shooting or predatory criminals lurking among us. I can try to counter that myth with some facts.
But what would be most effective is for someone on the local boards to give examples of people who they denied a carry permit – prior arrests, drunk driving violations, restraining orders, calls to police at their residences.”
Dr. Webster will voice his concern, but may well not be asked. This week has been a busy one this fast tracking senate action. Moms Demand Action is concerned as are we at PPGV. We will likely write a letter to be read on the Senate floor prior to the vote. It looks like that may not succeed, but clearly this bill creates problems and I think should voice our concern.

Letter to Mi. Senate on SB34

February 5th, 2015 | Posted by in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Dear Senators,

Thank you for hearing our plea. I am a co-leader of a group of 220 physicians with a mission to reduce gun violence. Gun violence is a public health epidemic with a yearly toll of 30,000 deaths and 70,000 injuries.

Removing discretionary authority from local law enforcement will allow dangerous people to obtain concealed pistol licenses (CPLs.) Physicians are often asked to identify persons who they think are a danger and should not have a gun. Michigan’s current system does just that. Our local concealed weapons licensing boards made up of sheriff, state police and prosecutors review applicants and can deny a problem person a license. Present law states “If the concealed weapon licensing board determines by clear and convincing evidence based on specific facts that the applicant poses a danger to the applicant or to any other person,” it has the authority to decline the application. This authority is important. It saves lives.

SB 34 will abolish county concealed weapon licensing boards and transfer their duties to county clerks, the courts, and the Michigan State Police (MSP). The new licensing entities will not retain any discretionary authority. Under SB 34, Michigan will become a “no discretion, shall issue” state. Proponents of the change argue that we can streamline the process, but who would want to arm someone that police and prosecutors would refuse? Local authorities know their people and know many of those no one wants to arm.

Michigan’s system works now and denials of CPLs are relatively rare. In 2011-2012, there were over 80,000 CPL applications. Only 255 were denied by the licensing boards. Local law enforcement often knows persons who are not safe to have a CPL. Examples of those denied licenses include former juveniles with serious records, domestic abusers with misdemeanors or no felonies because their victim would not go to court, serious alcoholics and drug abusers who will all be free to obtain a CPL under this new law.

“Shall Issue” states that include Texas. Alabama, Florida, and Indiana have found that there were more felons and other serious offenders given CPLs. For example, the Los Angeles Times looked at Texas and found that between 1995 and 2000; more than 400 criminals – including rapists and armed robbers – had been issued CPL licenses under the state’s permitting law. A similar study by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel found that people licensed to carry guns in the first half of 2006 in Florida included more than 1,400 individuals who had pleaded guilty or no contest to felonies, 216 individuals with outstanding warrants, 128 people with active domestic violence injunctions against them, and six registered sex offenders. And these people were more likely to commit crimes.

More CPLs don’t make you safer. According to a Violence Policy Center analysis of news reports, CPL permit holders have killed at least 14 law enforcement officers and 622 private citizens since May 2007. We
know, too, that removing guns from violent people is dangerous. These facts may be why both the sheriffs and state police opposed this bill at certain stages. We don’t want to lose officers and any violent altercation can lead to the death of our men and women in uniform.

Dr. Daniel Webster, a national expert on gun violence wrote me recently that there is evidence that this change to a “Shall Issue” state will cause more injuries and deaths. Changing our system may expedite licenses, but more people will get hurt or even killed. The local eyes of our current boards are saving lives. And the state police will have to do new clerical duties that may divert their resources. This bill creates a problem that has both health and administrative costs. Please don’t pass SB 34.

Senate Bill 789 and Basics of Game

January 15th, 2015 | Posted by admin in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

The Governor has a decision on Senate Bill 789 allowing some domestic abuse suspects to get a concealed carry gun permit. He will decide this very soon. Among other voices, including some of ours, Gabby Giffords and Debbie Dingell have written the governor. These two women are each significant to PPGV. Gabby’s shooting in 2011 sparked us to organize PPGV, asking each of you to join and have a physician voice on this issue- a louder, clearer voice than that of most of organized medicine. And Debbie’s husband, Rep. John Dingell, protested to me that personalizing a gun and making the manufacturers more responsible would not be a good idea. He has deep NRA connections. Now, his wife makes her case for a veto of this bill. The links to their voices are here and here

Playing Defense. My friend, Joe, talks about blocking and tackling, his words for life as sport. To do a good job in life you have to do the basics, blocking and tackling. Nothing fancy, but the job doesn’t get done without a ground game. On gun violence to try not to lose more lives and make us safer we need to get our “ground game” together. In playing defense, as we are now that there are few allies in the Michigan legislature, we need to be able to counter the NRA offensive. That said, how we become better at the basics and at building a winning coalition remains our job- our life. Short range go Everytown for Gun Safety call tool to call the governor. And go to our website ppgv.org or respond to this email to be involved in longer term.

AAFP Action on MAFP Resolutions on Gun Violence

December 4th, 2014 | Posted by admin in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

In July Resolutions from the MAFP’s Annual Meeting were sent to the AAFP.

There was debate at the AAFP Advocacy Committee that resulted in the following decisions and they were accepted at the Congress.
  RESOLVED, That the American Academy of Family Physicians advocate for regulations to promote safe firearm storage, and be it further

RESOLVED, That the American Academy of Family Physicians advocate for children’s firearm access prevention laws, and be it further

RESOLVED, That the American Academy of Family Physicians support firearm safety training programs.

Another step for the national academy that already had good policy, but we thought there was room for improvement.  And the process may enable other medical societies to follow. If you are interested in the process that was used by family medicine let us know.

Two Michigan resolutions, one on criminal penalties for parents failing to safely store  weapons and another on reinstatement of data collection on gun violence banned under Obamacare  were not dealt with by the advocacy committee and were referred to the Board of Directors directly. Those decisions are not known.

Thanksgiving Time- Lots happening.

November 29th, 2014 | Posted by admin in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

We are thankful for some notable achievements for PPGV this year. We think that informing you over several days may be best.
Today we are highlighting the Michigan Academy of Family Practice’s (MAFP) new leadership role in gun violence prevention.
The cover story of the Fall 2014 Michigan Family Physician is devoted to Gun Violence and links to an interview with the new president Tina Tanner, MD and me and the recently passed resolutions at the MAFP Annual Meeting resolving to be strong, active leaders as well as prompting the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), too.
MAFP Family Physician Cover story on the Resolutions and PPGV efforts. (Nov/14).

We thank Anne Kittendorf MD, who wrote the resolutions and helped champion them. Steve Thiry MD, Head of Family Medicine, St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, Ann Arbor, Jim Peggs MD, Professor of FM UM, Phillip Zazove MD, Head of FM UM, William Wadland MD, Head of FM MSU and Tsveti Marcova MD, Head of FM at WSU all contributed strong letters of support. The MAFP leadership and Board of Directors were strongly supportive. The measures passed unopposed by the membership
Many thanks, Michigan Doctors you made this effort to become MAFP leaders against gun violence success! You make us proud and thankful!

Next, the AAFP response.
Jerry for the Exec. Committee

MAFP affirms Proactive Stand on Gun Violence

July 22nd, 2014 | Posted by in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

The Michigan Academy of Family Physicians (MAFP) voted on Fri., July 18 at their Annual Meeting to affirm the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) call for multiple actions that reduce gun violence. These include background checks, additional research into gun laws and regulations with the intention of reducing deaths and injuries from firearms, and enforcement of existing laws.

In addition, very importantly, the MAFP  resolved to taking a leadership role in firearm violence, partnering for  legislation, opposition to guns in gun free zones, and education of the membership in gun violence reduction.

These resolutions had the support of the entire board of directors and the medical school faculties in Family Medicine at MSU and Wayne State University as well as the chair of UM FM and head of FM at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital. J Pegg’s Support Letter

These resolutions were proposed by family physicians who were MAFP members and also members of  Physicians for the Prevention of Gun Violence ppgv.org. Thus MAFP joins with AAP in trying to reduce gun injuries and deaths. The American Academy of Pediatrics annual issue for 2014- Gun Violence Prevention- public health approaches to lessen the 30,000 deaths, 80,000 injuries and $2 Billion in medical bills each year.

The Three Major Med Schools Support anti Gun Violence Measures

July 14th, 2014 | Posted by in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

100% backing for Gun Violence Resolutions to the Michigan Academy of Family Physicians (MAFP) Annual Meeting! When Dr. Tsveti Markova, associate dean and department head of Family Medicine at Wayne State University wrote a letter supported by all her family medicine department calling strongly for approval of the resolutions that Anne Kittendorf and I will bring to the MAFP next week I was elated! Wayne was the last, arguably the most important, of the three medical school’s family medicine departments to endorse these resolutions. Dr. Markova noted how committed her department is to the Detroit community and reducing the gun violence that plagues it. This gives us a beginning in Detroit.

Earlier MSU’s Dr. William Wadland and 10 of his faculty joined UM’s FM chair, Dr. Phillip Zazove in support. This may be historic to have all three medical schools bringing a voice to this public health problem. It bodes well for PPGV to have these partners. We are a long ways behind the gun lobby, but we can be better. This helps!
Other members of PPGV in addition to Dr. Zazove have played important roles. UM’s James Peggs and Steve Thiry, head of FM at St. Joe each wrote a letter and Stefani Hudson, winner of the MAFP’s Physician of the Year award, is writing another.
The resolutions which will be offered next week at the MAFP Annual Meeting by Dr. Kittendorf and me are first to bring the national AAFP policies into our state http://ppgv.org/?page_id=666 and second for the MAFP to act strongly to enable the resolutions. http://ppgv.org/?page_id=645 The resolutions also appear under our  website toolbar.
On July 18 even if we don’t get all the support and action from MAFP that we’d like, helping the medical schools to see the possibilities in working together on this issue may be enough.
PPGV was also represented at the Washtenaw County’s Gun Safety Week kickoff held by Sheriff Jerry Clayton and involving all the county’s police agencies. Gun locks and promoting gun storage while protecting kids from firearms was the highlighted. Other community agencies and officials were in attendance.
Lastly, please Like Us on Facebook. ppgv.org