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National Medical Council on Gun Violence Presentation Summary

May 10th, 2016 | Posted by admin in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Dear PPGV Members,

Last month Andrew Zweifler and I were pleased to participate in the National Medical Council on Gun Violence conference in Chicago.  This was a CME conference devoted to exploring how the medical community can make a meaningful impact in addressing the epidemic of gun violence in America.  Our talk, titled “Let’s Talk About Guns: Strategies for Successful Clinical Conversations” was well received and generated lively discussion.  In our presentation, we examined the many barriers that complicate physicians’ ability to talk with patients about guns, ranging from legal barriers such as “gag laws”  (otherwise known as the “Docs vs. Glocks” law in Florida) to general mistrust and fear that can directly impact the doctor/patient relationship.  Using the example of a “well child” visit as the context for illustrating successful strategies for discussing this topic, we emphasized the importance of building warm, genuine relationships with patients and also highlighted the physician’s role as an educator in providing common sense anticipatory guidance. Just as physicians routinely advise patients about the necessity of bicycle helmets, car seats, and smoke alarms, so must we educate our patients about the importance of safe gun storage and restricting access to people who should not have them such as children, substance abusers, domestic abusers, cognitively impaired adults, and anyone in the midst of a mental health crisis.

There were many incredible and nationally known speakers at this conference including Deb Azrael from the Harvard School of Public Health, Injury Control Research Center who spoke about the epidemiology of gun violence; Liza Gold – forensic psychiatrist from the Georgetown University School of Medicine and editor of the recently published book, Gun Violence and Mental Illness; surgeon Michael Hirsch of the University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center who spoke about an exciting and successful gun buyback program that he has developed in his community, and psychiatrist Elspeth Ritchie, professor of psychiatry at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences who spoke about the unique difficulties related to gun violence with military service men and women. All of the presentations were outstanding. I am hopeful that the entirety of the conference will be made available online so that everyone can learn from the material that was presented. Here is a link to the conference brochure that lists all of the speakers.  We are especially grateful to Mike Weisser for organizing this event and gathering together this passionate and determined group of clinicians, researchers, and advocates.

One of the most exciting outcomes of the conference was a common desire amongst participants to incorporate gun violence prevention into medical training. Dr. Zweifler and I have joined a work group that is collaborating to put together educational materials geared for medical students, resident physicians, and physicians in practice. This is an exciting opportunity, and we welcome the involvement of anyone who is interested in collaborating. Please contact Dr. Zweifler (zweifler@umich.edu) or myself if you would like more information. We are only getting started now, but hope that we will be able to harness the momentum and passion generated in Chicago to make an important and necessary impact in the world of medical education.

It was an honor and a pleasure representing PPGV at this conference, and we look forward to continuing our work together to reduce preventable injuries and deaths due to gun violence in our communities.



Sonya Lewis, MD, MPH

Andrew Zweifler, MD


Ken Silk Remembrance

May 8th, 2016 | Posted by in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Doctors- Kenneth Silk’s Memorial Service was held yesterday May 7 at the League on the UM campus. It was a wonderful tribute to a superb man. So many stories about Ken’s generous spirit and gifted life were shared by the many attending. There will be a Kenneth R. Silk, MD Lectureship in Psychiatry. To contribute to that on line go to victors.us/kensilk or write the UMHS office of Development. I have sent the following tribute to his family.

Kenneth R. Silk, MD                                                      Spring, 2016

Physicians for the Prevention of Gun Violence (PPGV) lost a strong partner in the fight to prevent gun violence with the recent passing of Kenneth R. Silk. Ken was a psychiatrist known and beloved in many circles – the Michigan gun violence circle is rather new and small. Ken joined us in the last 2 years and became important at once. His assets were a good sense of himself and his worth, a wonderful sense of humor, a keen intelligence and thoughtfulness. He was an academic, an administrator, a good writer and an editor. His career focused on borderline personality disorder, an entity thought untreatable for many years- a tribute to his willingness to work on a very tough problem.  He helped PPGV with our planning, thinking, and writing. With Ken we were working on a new gun violence curriculum for the University of Michigan. Gun violence is another tough problem and Ken was vital to PPGV.

Many of us in the medical community flinched when we first heard his diagnosis. His bone marrow disorder called for a complex response. Ken seemed centered. His family found him grateful and happy with the life he had led. He pushed on. He received a bone marrow transplant. The subsequent marrow failure dealt another blow and our fear returned. But, Ken seemingly had all he needed. He made plans. He volunteered for a PPGV medical talk in June.

His obituary mentions his mischievous streak as well as his ethical pursuits. We came to love these two parts of Ken. He was fun loving and he was serious about making the world a better place. He showed us how to live and then he showed us how to die. We are better for knowing him and will celebrate him and grieve his death. Thank-you Kenneth R. Silk!


Hospital Leaders Join

April 28th, 2016 | Posted by in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)
New Leaders Join PPGV
We want to introduce some new leaders to the group- we are very happy to welcome them and to have their help.
From the University of Michigan
1. Valerie Opipari, MD, Chairman, Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases.
2. Max Wicha, MD, Founding Director Emeritus of the UM Comprehensive Cancer Center and Director of the Wicha Labratory.
From St. Joseph Mercy Hospital
1. David Fugenschuh, MD, Director of Radiology
2. Jeffrey Sanfield, MD, Chairman, Department of Internal Medicine
From Beaumont Hospital.
Samuel Bauer, MD, Medical Director, Outpatient Perinatal Clinical Services, Department of Obstetrics.
From Sparrow Hospital -Lansing
Gabriel Elia, MD, Nephrology
From Tulane University in New Orleans
Jane Andrews, MD,  Internist and Coordinator of Advocacy Program
Welcome to all of you! Thanks to Drs. J.Tulin-Silver, K. Orringer, B. Lozoff, W. Whitehouse, and T. Johnson who extended invitations this special group of new members! Our hope is that hospital-wide efforts to curtail gun violence may net new and better results!

Going to Chicago- National Medical Conference on GV

April 16th, 2016 | Posted by in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

I am excited to tell you that Dr. Andrew Zweifler and I will be presenting a talk tomorrow at the National Medical Conference on Gun Violence held in Chicago. Our talk is titled, “Let’s Talk About Guns: Strategies for Successful Clinical Conversations”.  In our presentation, we will examine the challenges involved in discussing gun safety with patients, and we will offer ideas about how medical professionals can overcome these challenges in a clinical setting. The link below is to the program.


Over 100 Medical Groups-including PPGV Call for Gun Research

April 10th, 2016 | Posted by in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

141 Medical Groups Urge Congress to Restore Funding for Gun Violence Research

Doctors call on lawmakers to “end the dramatic chilling effect” of a law seen as curbing almost all CDC firearm studies.

Dr. Ken Silk Refutes Michigan Gun Owners

February 28th, 2016 | Posted by admin in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

The Discussion On Gun Control Continues After Kalamazoo Shootings

FEB 23, 2016


Some groups are calling for gun control measures after shootings in the Kalamazoo area left six people dead, but not everybody agrees.

The Michigan Gun Owners organization say the core issue is not being discussed.  The group’s attorney, James Makowski, says it’s not a gun control issue, but rather a mental health one and that should be addressed.

However, those who would like to see more regulations, such as the Physicians for Prevention of Gun Violence group in Washtenaw County, say that’s not accurate.  Psychiatrist Dr. Kenneth Silk says most of the gun deaths in this country don’t occur in mass murders, but they occur because of impulsive actions people take.

There are about 500,000 licensed concealed pistol holders in Michigan.

Like 89.1 WEMU on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

— Jorge Avellan is the Ann Arbor beat reporter and anchor for 89.1 WEMU News.  Contact him at 734.487.3363 or email him javellan@emich.edu

The Guardian gives PPGV an Op Ed

February 23rd, 2016 | Posted by in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

When I attended a national meeting that focuses on gun violence, the National Physicians Alliance (npalliance.org) meeting last year I paid attention to 2 discussions, one led by a medical journalist and one by a union organizer. The journalist taught us to use the media as a friend, the unionist to tryto find out what your target wants.Both were very professional!

Yesterday’s Op Ed in the Guardian was both of these. My coleader, Andy Zweifler and I had spoken to HB 4795 in Lansing.  I sent a copy of my remarks to the Guardian. HB 4795 is the Preemptive Punishment Bill that would stifle dissent like the Ann Arbor School Board outlawing “Open Carry” in schools by charging court costs and fines to the dissenting party. And while in Lansing I looked for a newspaper writer, but found none. Then on Sunday I saw the invitation to write an Op Ed column and away we go! (I had mailed several pieces to other papers in vain before.) Give them what they want.
So here is the link again or you can google the Guardian and my name. Our legislature wants guns everywhere- we at PPGV and NPA don’t- it’s killing us!

Chart Notes

February 23rd, 2016 | Posted by in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Hi Docs-

This has been a time- from beauty of upper Michigan winter slopes to the sadness and shock of Kalamazoo shootings all in a short space.
I had been invited to speak at the Snow Conference for MiACOG two weeks ago. Thanks to Dan McMurtrie for sending me to Jodie Jones. Jodie and Matt Allswede made me welcome at Crystal Mountain and after my presentation 20 new OB doctors joined PPGV. I also was introduced to Sam Bauer (through Tim Johnson) and Cheryl Gibson-Fountain from Beaumont Hospital. We want to become part of Detroit’s approach to gun violence and they may help. Mac Whitehouse sent our new OB members a warm welcome!
Mac and I also met 2/19 with Chris Mitchell, a VP for Government Affairs for the Michigan Hospital Association. He’s a friend and we will work together.
Then comes this shooting! What a devastating story and seemingly so senseless! Random deaths from another guy who “just lost it”? And our lawmakers in Michigan are bringing in new laws to make put guns in hospitals and schools!  And the latest is a “Constitutional Carry” bill to exempt concealed carry gun owners from needing to get any license. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Runestad said  “Bureaucracy and fees do not make people better drivers. Requiring a special permit to carry a concealed weapon just forces inefficient spending and inconveniences responsible gun owners.” Wow!
Finally, after giving testimony recently at a Michigan House hearing on a bill to punish local entities like the Ann Arbor School Board for defying state law and insisting on no guns in schools, we got invited by the Guardian to do an Op Ed piece. More on this SOON!

HB 4795- another PPGV statement

February 11th, 2016 | Posted by in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

My name is Andrew Zweifler.  I’m a physician.  The popular image of members of my profession is that of the curers of illness, dispensing powerful medications or performing lifesaving operations. But as knowledge of the causes of disease and disability has grown, doctors now are able to focus on prevention.

I serve on the Executive Committee of Physicians for the Prevention of Gun Violence (PPGV), a statewide organization with over 350 members.  As we have studied the problem of gun violence, one of the more useful things we have learned is how important it is to keep firearms out of the hands of “dangerous” people (domestic abusers, seriously angry people, certain depressed individuals.) We are convinced that requiring background checks on all gun sales would help to accomplish this, and every major national medical organization has come to the same conclusion (Reference). It is clear that this will not happen nationally in the near future, so it will need to be done locally. This brings me to House Bill 4795 (an amendment of PA 319), which, if it ultimately became Michigan law, would penalize “any local unit of government” and its employees for attempting to do just that.

This makes me angry for two reasons: First, it is certain that implementation of background checks for all gun sales would save lives, while also, by the way, saving tax dollars and secondly, this bill is the product of the same misguided mindset that has given us physician “gag” laws as well as prohibition of use of federal tax dollars to fund much needed research on gun violence.

PA319 is a bad law and HB4795 would make it even more offensive.

Mr Chairman, I have found myself wondering what the mandate of your committee actually is. If it is, as I suspect, to assist local governments in addressing their needs, I urge you to reject HB4795 and I also suggest that you recommend repeal of PA319 to the Legislature.


Reference:   Annals of Internal Medicineb; April 2015, Volume 162, No.7

Submission to House Local Gov’t Comm on HB 4795

February 11th, 2016 | Posted by in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Physicians for the Prevention of Gun Violence (PPGV) is a group of 350 doctors who as our mission, are “Educated and empowered to advocate for the prevention of gun violence.” We are raising our voice in opposition as scientists trained in gun deaths and injuries. We are bringing to you our concern for the right of local government. We come before you today to implore you to defeat this bill. This is undemocratic legislation.

You are the Local Government Committee. That implies that you believe in local entities and their wisdom to choose the best for each locality. It also implies that you believe that the people have kept some of their authority as citizens. Although they chose you as leaders they would not chose to be penalized for raising their voices when necessary.  This bill penalizes its citizens.   In gun issues this bill effectively denies a local government from making a decision on how to handle guns by penalizing it with fines and court costs. This bill then highjacks local government and stifles local control.

We have a gun problem in our country. With over 30,000 deaths a year we have 80 percent of the gun fatalities in the industrialized world (American Journal of Medicine, 2016). So local efforts to enhance gun safety should be supported. In fact, Ann Arbor (and Clio) have done exactly that. The school board in Ann Arbor wanted no guns in schools there- a position that had been the standard in the state for many years. As public health doctors PPGV know that shooting deaths in schools are 50 times[i] less likely  than outside the doors so not allowing guns made excellent sense. The boards acted in the best interest of their students. With this legislation such action would have been intimidated.

Some of you on the committee believe, like most physicians, in the sanctity of life and even belong to the Right to Life movement. You then, must help us protect life. Guns don’t belong in schools and the statistic above -50 times safer- is compelling that protecting students means keeping schools, hospitals, and all traditionally gun free places gun free. Don’t threaten the liberty of the citizens of Michigan by using this law to frighten those who would oppose a gun in every place.  Act in the tradition of Sarah Brady- a great Republican.

Jim Brady, President Reagan’s press secretary was shot in the head during an attempt on the president’s life. He and his wife Sarah began the Brady Campaign against gun violence and strove for universal background checks on gun purchases.  At one time a friend left a loaded gun in reach of James, Jr. when he was a small child. Sarah Brady was incensed and said later “I have fought against the gun lobby and anyone else who wants guns anywhere, at anytime, for anyone.”

Small government is a Republican virtue. Villages and townships know their needs. They often don’t need outside management. They don’t need penalties for making decisions that may be better than those of the state. Think of the Flint water crisis. The city knew its problems better than the state did. Don’t punish citizens for speaking and acting locally.  We can do better. Please defeat this bill.

Thank you.

Jerry S Walden, MD  Physicians for the Prevention of Gun Violence.   ppgv.org

[i] U.S. Department of Education & U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs, Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2008 6 (Apr. 2009)