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Asian targeted gun violence

March 23rd, 2021 | Posted by in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Asian targeted gun violence)
Sonya Lewis Mar 21, 2021, 9:07 AM (2 days ago)

Dear Friends and Colleagues, 

Our hearts are heavy following last week’s murders of eight people in Atlanta, six of whom were women of Asian descent. 

Physicians for the Prevention of Gun Violence is steadfast in our commitment to eliminating the interconnected scourges of racism, misogyny, and gun violence in our nation. As healthcare professionals, we condemn racist rhetoric that finds its lethal expression in cowardly acts of violence, and we dedicate ourselves to ending the cancer of armed hatred. 

Each of us has a role to play in speaking out against the American sickness of gun violence. Rejecting helplessness in the aftermath of trauma, there are steps we can take to further the causes of safety and justice. 

We urge you to contact your U.S. Senators to voice your support for H.R. 8, The Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021, and H.R. 1446, the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2021. These bills were recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, and if signed into law, would require background checks on firearms purchased from private sellers (H.R. 8), and would extend the time period in which background checks must be completed from three days to ten days (H.R. 1446). 

Similarly, we urge you to contact your U.S. Senators to voice your support for the reinstatement of the Violence Against Women Act, which was recently approved by the House. Provisions in this act will prevent individuals who are convicted of misdemeanor domestic abuse or stalking from buying guns. This will also close the “boyfriend loophole” by prohibiting domestic abusers from purchasing guns even if they have never been married to, lived with, or had a child with their victim. 

Additionally, we urge you to maintain a personal and professional practice of active anti-racism. As healers, we must loudly and consistently condemn white supremacy when we see it. Through our interactions with patients, colleagues, legislators, friends, family, and the general public, we have the opportunity and obligation to be agents of transformative justice in our communities. 

As we face the future, we decry senseless bloodshed and we keep the victims and survivors of the Atlanta shootings in our hearts. May we honor their lives and memories with positive action.

The Repetition of Gun Deaths

March 23rd, 2021 | Posted by in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on The Repetition of Gun Deaths)

Sonya Lewis

8:12 AM (2 hours ago)

I posted the following reflection on my personal Facebook page but I thought I’d also share it with you. I’m just so sick and tired of living this way. Last night I dreamt our family moved to New Zealand.

Anyway, please be safe and thanks to all of you for working to be part of the solution.

– Sonya

It often happens that I give presentations about gun violence in the immediate aftermath of a mass shooting. In fact, I frequently open my remarks by commenting on the timeliness of my talk. Of course, with over 100 Americans shot to death each day (most not in highly publicized incidents) it’s always timely. Today, in the wake of last week’s Atlanta murders, I had this experience once again. I was grateful to have the opportunity to speak about the physician’s role in the prevention of gun violence to members of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute along with my wonderful colleague, Dr. Jim Peggs. I was sorry that our remarks were once again in the aftermath of tragedy.

Today may be the first time that a high profile massacre actually took place *during* my talk. In fact I didn’t learn of the Boulder incident until the presentation was over and I saw the alerts on my phone. It feels disorienting and demoralizing to have taken steps to counteract a crisis while that very crisis was literally in progress. I’m not giving up, of course, but I feel disillusioned, sad, and furious. I grieve for all victims and survivors of these heinous crimes. I grieve for the soul of our nation.

We must do better than this. We do not have to live like animals, hostages to the basest instincts of hate fueled criminals who are armed with obscene, easily obtained weapons and driven by blind rage. Human beings are capable of so much more than constant trauma and senseless carnage. Our American bloodbath is not freedom; it is self inflicted shame. It is the inevitable consequence of a citizenry supersaturated with guns and propelled by grievance. It is the price innocent people pay for unfettered access to cold metal tools of destruction.

We do not have to live in perpetual fear, at the murderous mercy of violent cowards. It is not this way in other countries. It does not have to be this way here either. We must reject helplessness and complacency and we must allow ourselves to feel the raw, sick, searing outrage that gun murder demands.

Gun violence is not normal. Gun violence is not civilized.

I never want to give timely remarks ever again. Ever.

March Notes

March 16th, 2021 | Posted by admin in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on March Notes)

March news- PPGV is a new 501c3 not-for-profit corporation! More on this soon.
The Michigan Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence (PPGV is a member) is calling for signatures to end guns in the Michigan Capitol in Lansing. This is “our lane”. Link to sign is at the bottom of the Michigan Coalition letter. https://michigancoalitiontopreventgunviolence.org/2021/03/04/guns-in-the-news-sobering-reminders-and-protective-action
Now the idea of a national Czar of GVP. Representatives Neguse and McBath have written President Joe Biden asking for the creation of a Gun Violence Prevention Czar. https://www.axios.com/joe-neguse-lucy-mcbath-gun-violence-czar-biden-18dc2c52-823b-458a-a26a-adb28506c279.html
Dr. Gregory Engel and Doctors for America are envisioning a Bureau of Firearm Injury Prevention both at the state and national level. Last year the Washington State Academy of Family Physicians passed a resolution to this affect and sent it to the American Academy of Family Physicians. It was favorably reviewed but not adopted. Plans are to bring it back again this year. If there is movement in various state societies to adopt the concept it will be more likely to succeed.
Some of us plan to present the resolution to the Michigan Academy of Family Physicians at the annual meeting this summer. The hope is that other Michigan societies will also support this. If you belong to say- Internal Medicine, Emergency Med, Psychiatry, OB-Gyn, etc. contact us if you would bring forward a resolution. The resolution used in Washington is available as a model. Now to bring it to Michigan.
Exciting times for PPGV!

Holiday Greetings

December 27th, 2020 | Posted by admin in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Holiday Greetings)

Holiday Greetings Doctors and Friends,

As 2020 comes to a close Physicians for the Prevention of Gun Violence are grateful for many things.

· We have vaccines against the COVID 19 virus and a path to safety that looks promising.

· We are also on a path to becoming a non-profit corporation- a 501c3. The application is being submitted by our treasurer Walter Mac Whitehouse.

· We plan a brief member survey in early 2021 to enable us to engage well with you. Look for it please!
President-Elect Joe Biden has committed to working for gun violence prevention. This gives us encouragement.

So Happy Holidays! Happy New Year! Stay safe and well, everyone!

PPGV Executive Committee

Chart Notes Summer 2020

August 28th, 2020 | Posted by admin in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Chart Notes Summer 2020)

Physicians for the Prevention of Gun Violence (PPGV) is in transition in 2 ways.

First, our co-founder and co-leader Andy Zweifler is stepping down from leadership and Sonya Lewis has been selected to fill this role. Andy will continue on our executive committee and we will continue to enjoy his energy and wisdom for gun safety. Thanks, Andy!   Sonya’s many attributes, especially as a writer and champion will be utilized even more fully.

Second, we are applying for not-for-profit 501c3 status. Mac Whitehouse, our treasurer, is leading this initiative. Donors will get to apply for tax relief on our completion. Stay tuned.

Is the NRA in hot water?https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-1-d&q=nra+sued+by+ny+attorney+general The NRA has long been the bane of gun violence prevention groups, even telling physicians in 2018 to “Stay in our Lane” and not use our voice to try to influence policy on GVP. This caused wide anger among physicians. The NRA executives including Wayne LaPierre, a GVP nemesis, have been sued for fraud. The charges are impressive. If LaPierre leaves maybe the new leaders will be less oppositional.

Who should we elect in November? Finding a Gun Sense Candidate on Moms Demand Action web platform will help you decide. https://gunsensevoter.org/candidates/# Then use your voice to get that person elected. For the past 2 years PPGV has supported positive legislation in Michigan, specifically the “Red Flag Law” or Extreme Risk Protection Orders. Nineteen states have the law.  We were successful in getting the Michigan Academy of Family Physicians to also advocate for this law, but without any Republican legislative help we have been stymied. We urgently need more gun-sense candidates. Your voice can help them win.

Responding to police violence and our history of racism

June 8th, 2020 | Posted by admin in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Responding to police violence and our history of racism)

Everyone is called upon for answers today. How are we physicians to respond to the recent deaths of African Americans at the hands of police and to the protests against police violence? We are deeply saddened and outraged by the senseless killings of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd. These are but three recent examples from a centuries long, shameful list of brutal acts.

As healers, we must grapple with the ways in which white supremacy and white privilege have shaped American life. Though painful, recent traumas represent an opportunity for change. It is incumbent upon us to translate generations of suffering into progress. Each of us has a responsibility to act.

In 1903 W.E.B. Du Bois wrote The Souls of Black Folk. In it, he discussed the “Color Line” or segregation, calling it the problem of the 20th century. As we witness protests throughout our country and we review the senseless murders, disproportionate rates of incarceration of black people, and inequitable access to the “American dream,” it is apparent that the color line is alive in the 21st century.

Unfettered capitalism and years of systemic racism have resulted in rampant wealth disparities – just one of the markers of a just society. Research shows that white Americans tend to underestimate the wealth gap. In fact, data from the U.S. Census Bureau show that black Americans’ wealth is only 9% that of whites, and this gap continues to widen. Furthermore, the lowest 25% of black families have no or negative wealth, whereas only 10% of white families experience this level of poverty. This didn’t happen by accident. Poverty is a form of violence especially when it follows our racist policies that have dogged people through our lifetimes. This must change. We must confront the economic and social disparities that plague our nation.

What are doctors to do? Those of us who are white must think critically of the advantages that white skin has conferred, listen to our colleagues of color, and take action to make amends. Systemic racism, like gun violence, is “our lane” and we must do better.

We must educate ourselves and address any implicit biases we may hold. Through honest introspection and genuine commitment to change, doctors are in a unique position to make a difference in the lives of our patients, and in society as a whole.

We, the Executive Committee of Physicians for the Prevention of Gun Violence support the demands of the protestors in the streets who are crying out for justice. They are asking us to come alive, to find our voices, to create a just America with a strong public health undergirding.

As a physician’s organization that advocates for the prevention of gun violence, we understand that gun violence cannot be separated from co-occurring societal ills, namely systemic racism. We hope that by writing this we will stimulate introspection, dialog, and action resulting in positive change.

We encourage you to deepen your commitment to creating a just society through education and through supporting organizations engaged in this work. We have listed just few of these below (there are many more). Additionally, it is critical that we vote for political candidates who will fight to eradicate structural racism in America.


Black Lives Matter

NAACP    Poor Peoples Campaign

White Coats for Black Lives

Black Psychiatrists of America


American Public Health Association – Racism and Health

75 Things White People Can Do For Racial Justice” by Corinne Shutack

Together we can make this country a better place to live. We must. Too many lives are at stake.

Executive Committee of Physicians for the Prevention of Gun Violence

Wear Orange Day June 5

May 30th, 2020 | Posted by in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Wear Orange Day June 5)

Dear Docs,

June 5 is national Wear Orange Day. So, it is less than a week away.

This year with the corona virus there may be less in person interaction, but dust off your orange for our day.

Hadiya Pendleton’s memory is a focus- orange was her favorite color and she was shot as a bystander in  2013 after marching in then President Obama’s inaugural parade. Then there are all the others who have been shot and killed or injured to honor. So we doctors persist – we persist knowing that each time that guns are used to harm someone we have lost something precious and important and that this is OUR LANE and we as a people can and must do better.

WEAR ORANGE Docs!  And thanks for all you do for your patients!

2019 PPGV Annual Report

May 5th, 2020 | Posted by admin in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on 2019 PPGV Annual Report)


  • We are now 730 physicians strong
  • 1. Operations
    • Our Executive Committee continues to meet monthly.
      • Cochairs: J. Walden and A. Zweifler
      • Treasurer: W.M. Whitehouse, Secretary: E. Arneson
      • Membership: T. Wilson
      • Welcome Host: WM Whitehouse
      • Governmental Relations: S. Dombey,
      • Education: J. Peggs
      • Communication: S. Lewis
      • Audio/Visual: A. Weder.
  • 2. Education
    • Grand Rounds and other educational presentations continue to be a core function.
    • University of Michigan student Psychiatry Clerkship ( 2019 ) Jan 7, Feb 4, Mar 4, Apr 1, June 10, July 8, Aug 5, Sept 3 and30 ,Oct 28, and Nov 25. Most of these presentations were made by S. Lewis; JP, JW, and WCW contributed.
    • Feb 12, 2019: Pediatric Gr. Rounds, Beaumont Hosp, Royal Oak (JW, JP).
    • April 3, 2019: Ann Arbor Rotary, (JP).
    • May 22, 2019: St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor, Grand Rounds; (WMW, JP).
    • May 22, 2019: St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor, A2 IHA staff (WMW)
    • May 29, 2019 Beaumont Family Practice Residency, Wayne; (JP, JW).
    • June 4, 2019: Beaumont Family Practice Residency, Sterling Heights (JW, MS).
    • Aug 2, 2019: Michigan Academy of Family Practice, Bellaire/ Shanty Creek (CF, BW).
    • Oct 3, 2019: University of Michigan Family Med Fall Update, (JP, JW)
    • Oct. 14, 2019: Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, Ann Arbor (SL,JP)
    • Oct 21, 2019: Firearm Safety Among Children and Teens (FACTS Symposium), University of Michigan poster presentation, (JW).
    • Nov. 11, 2019: Ypsilanti Rotary, (JP).
    • Nov. 21, 2019: WMU Family Med Grand Rounds, Kalamazoo, (WMW, JP). Presenters included Cheryl Farmer (CF), Sonya Lewis (SL), James Peggs (JP,) Marguerite (Peg)Shearer (MS), William (Bill) Wadland (BW), Jerry Walden (JW,) Welton Craig Washington (WCW) and Walter Mac Whitehouse (WMW)
  • 3. Curriculum Development
    • Executive Committee members of PPGV have developed and are continuously updating a PowerPoint slide deck summarizing the epidemiology of gun violence, practical approaches for gun violence prevention in clinical practice, and public health advocacy. This resource has been modified for various presentations including medical schools, residency programs, academy meetings, and community groups.
    • A model for identification and communication in the clinical setting on gun safety and gun violence prevention has been adapted based on the successful brief advice model for smoking cessation in clinical practice (the 5 A’s: Ask, Advice, Assess, Assist, and Arrange).
    • Psychiatrist and PPGV executive committee member, Dr. Sonja Lewis, has developed a gun violence prevention curriculum involving health communication and behavioral change techniques which has been introduced during the medical student clerkship in psychiatry at UM.
    • The UM Trauma Center has developed and distributed an excellent handout on gun safety that serves as a model for other clinical settings.
    • The UM Pediatric Residency has developed video clips for role playing clinical interactions on gun safety. Rather than relying solely on simple didactic presentations, PPGV presenters are willing to tailor interactive workshop approaches especially for seasoned clinicians who wish to incorporate gun safety measures in their personal practice. PPGV welcomes opportunities to share the above resources with physician educators interested in developing curricula on gun violence prevention.
  • 4. Advocacy
    • There were fewer trips to Lansing to advocate for legislation this year. PPGV did push for Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) or “Red Flag” Legislation that would allow a family member worried about another’s mental state to petition a judge to temporarily remove guns. Lacking Republican support, these bills went nowhere. There were several bills that would have allowed more guns in risky places that were not passed and sent to the governor, as legislators supporting the bills anticipated that the Governor would veto the proposals.
    • S. Lewis serves on the American Public Health Association Maternal Child Health Section’s Gun Violence Prevention Workgroup.
    • Members of the Executive Committee attended a number of townhall meetings with elected officials.
    • J. Walden serves on the Advocacy Committee of MAFP. This MAFP committee elected to try to promote an ERPO or Red Flag Law. PPGV members Anne Betz Kittendorf, Beena Nagappala and Pamela Rockwell supported the effort, which unfortunately was unsuccessful.
    • C. Farmer, M.Shearer and J. Walden serve on Washtenaw County Medical Society and Michigan State Medical Society.
  • 5. Publications
  • 6. Media, Art and Celebrations
    • PPGV members attended the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Annual Spring Gun Safety Day.
    • PPGV participated in Wear Orange Day. Dr. Walden spoke in Detroit along with many other statewide advocates of gun violence prevention. A Washtenaw County event was also held.
    • Detroit’s Silence the Violence Parade. Drs. Peggs and Walden marched with hundreds and Rev. Barry Randolph’s Church of the Messiah in their 12th annual parade for gun victims.
  • 7. Colaborations and Partners
    • We continue to network with many physician groups in the state to secure a safer Michigan.
    • PPGV is a member of the Michigan Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence michigancoalitiontopreventgunviolence.org/mcpgv based in Lansing.
    • Our members, are involved in the many locations that you live and serve and we applaud you.
  • 8. Financial Support
    • We are grateful for many generous donations to help support our efforts. The donations have been used to cover small costs of operation. The remaining funds have been used to support
    • We contributed to youth advocates in Ann Arbor, Florida and Chicago and to a victims’ organization. Physicians helped those with resource needs creating potential for ongoing partnerships.

PPGV 2019 Annual Report- summary.

April 30th, 2020 | Posted by in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on PPGV 2019 Annual Report- summary.)

Summary of the 2019 Annual Report: Physicians for the Prevention of Gun Violence

There are now 730 members of PPGV. Please join us.

Our leadership group has expanded to include Willie James and Welton Craig Washington, Jr.MD

SUMMARY: Our major efforts continue to be education and public advocacy and support for legislative activities supporting gun registration and regulation.

Education: Dr. James Peggs continues to spearhead our educational activities:

  • PPGV members presented to 12 physician and community groups this the year.
  • Dr. Sonya Lewis has developed a teaching module for University of Michigan medical students as part of their Department of Psychiatry clinical rotation.
  • PPGV has prepared a slide presentation focused on gun violence prevention which is available to others for educational activities.

Advocacy: PPGV continues to advocate for gun violence mitigation efforts by:

  • Lobbying Michigan state legislators
  • Supporting the efforts of medical societies including the American Public Health Association, the Michigan Academy of Family Physicians and the Michigan State Medical Society
  • Speaking out publically at local events supporting gun violence reduction efforts
  • Supporting youth advocacy groups

Nationally this was the year following the 2018 youth movement response to the Parkland, Florida shooting and the “Stay in your lane” directive by the NRA. In 2019 physicians everywhere proclaimed “This is OUR LANE”, but Michigan was disappointing legislatively as passing a lifesaving Extreme Risk Protection Order, or Red Flag Bill, was impossible given the composition of the Michigan legislature. Nevertheless, we are encouraged that more physicians and more citizens groups are supportive of our gun violence prevention goals. We urge you to join PPGV in our mission to prevent gun violence.

A Trauma Surgeons Post- Covid, a Kid, a Gun, a Death.

April 22nd, 2020 | Posted by admin in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on A Trauma Surgeons Post- Covid, a Kid, a Gun, a Death.)

Dr. Shaikh trained under PPGV’s Dr. Mac Whitehouse. This is her story.

Almaas Shaikh

April 14 at 10:54 PM ·

COVID Chronicles


With a bottle of hydrogen peroxide I soak a towel and clean the small little lifeless bloody hand on the gurney. At the intersection of science and emotion my mind wanders as I clean. I don’t want his parent’s hand stained with their own child’s blood when they let go. If they let go. I try not to feel the rush of my emotions hurling at me like a runaway train. I have to pull it together so I can shortly go tell the parents of this precious young boy that their child has died.

I clean that hand as gently but as intently as I can to make sure every last drop of blood is gone. I couldn’t do much else for him; the injury was devastating and non-survivable. Not one skillset in all my training and experience could help me to help him live. The bullet traversed his brain from one side to out the other. No one survives. That is the science. I felt my eyes well up with tears. The trauma nurse quietly takes over the cleaning.

It was a trauma nurse who taught me to clean hands for dead patients. It is a lesson that has stayed with me, as morbid as that sounds. Similarly, I was taught to cover bodies in a blanket and wrap the head in gauze after cleaning any head wounds. Then it will just look like the child is sleeping. Peacefully.

My young patient was 4 years old. He hadn’t even had enough time to begin to live. Through tears his mom shows me a video she had made just a few hours earlier. Time warps as I travel back to see the life of a young child with the most beautiful brown eyes and an engaging, innocent precious smile playing with LEGOS. The moment belies what was to happen shortly thereafter. Time would pass and once done building LEGOS his life and my life would intersect in one of the most tragic ways possible.

“I didn’t even know my boys knew we had a gun in the house” mom tells me through gasping sobs. Her husband stands at her side- he tries to hold her in comfort. She pulls away. Immediately I know why. The gun was his. She never wanted it in the house. She never wanted it at all. I read it all on her face because I have seen this story over and over again. The people are just different this time. The gaping emotional heart wrenching impact though is the same.

It’s the middle of the morning. 1030 am. Normally these children would have been in school. But we are in a global pandemic. Schools are closed. Usually a safe haven for so many, these learning environments engage the mind and busy the body. They keep our kids out of trouble – or at the very least minimize the trouble they can get into. We underestimate how valuable school truly is.

The conversation falls to silence.

I step away feeling like an intruder on a very personal moment. The police are waiting for me outside. They need a report. They want to know injuries. Monotonously I answer their questions as I have similarly before. They look as shocked as I feel.

“Where did the older child get the gun?” I ask.

They kept a gun in the house, to protect against intruders. A flood of questions come into my head. Did they not know that the odds of needing to shoot an intruder are so much less than the odds of a gun accident in the house? Did they not listen to their pediatrician who asked about safety locks and lockboxes for gun storage? I don’t ask any of the questions because in this very moment it won’t change a thing.

The older brother had found the gun box. In the closet. On the top shelf. Behind shoe boxes. Tucked under old clothes. He had seen Dad put it away once and also knew where Dad hid the key to open the lock. He picked up the gun. It was shiny, clean and crisp to touch. Much like he thought the one in his video game might be. He turned the gun around in his hand and latched his small finger on the trigger all while his imagination went wild. He was chasing down the bad guys. There was a gun fight. He needed to save some innocent people. He was going to shoot them and be a hero. He aimed it toward the closet door and gently pulled the trigger.

BAM! A loud sound muffled his hearing for a moment. The gun recoiled in his hand and knocked him off the step stool he was standing on. He fell to the ground surprised. He heard someone running up the stairs. He quickly put the gun down. He stepped outside at the very same moment his mother and father walked around the corner to find his younger brother on the carpet…lifeless.

I’ll never be able to look at LEGOS the same way again.

Traumatic injury – such as gun violence – is a nearly 100% preventable disease. Gun violence is no less now that #stayathome and #socialdistancing are in effect. In fact when all is said and done, statistics will likely show an increase during these “shelter at home” times. Economies are stressed as are lives. Schools which are normally safe havens for children are closed. Choices made in boredom or under stress are not always the wisest. If you choose to own a gun please abide by the following:

1) Store guns safely. Guns and ammunition should be stored separately.
2) Use an approved firearms safety device on the gun such as a trigger lock or cable lock so it cannot be fired.
3) Store it unloaded in a locked approved container (lock box or gun safe).
4) Use both a locking device and separate container for maximum safety.

Choose wisely. Save a life.

In peace,
Almaas Shaikh MD

Feel free to share.

Disclaimer: Any resemblance real, fictional or in location in the writing of the story is purely coincidental.

#Stayathome #socialdistancing #COVIDChronicles #COVID19 #Traumaprevention

Photo below of LEGO Sydney Opera House built by Kashif Zubair; a build of nearly 3000 pieces requiring pure grit and determination.