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HB 4795 – a Preemptive Poison Bill

February 11th, 2016 | Posted by in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)
Yesterday, 2/11/16,  Andy and I went to Lansing for a hearing on  HB 4795, introduced by Rep. Lee Chatfield.
 It was heard by the Local Government Committee, which Chatfield Chairs. He explained it as “putting teeth” in the law that forbids localities from creating law that the state has jurisdiction in. The NRA spoke first and longest to this bill on invitation from the chairman a NRA member.
What it is-
It is a “Punitive Preemption” bill.
  • Firearm preemption laws specifically prohibit local governments from adopting reasonable gun laws tailored to local conditions. In other words, preemption laws prohibit cities, municipalities, school districts, libraries, etc. from setting their own firearms policies.
  • “Punitive Premption” laws say that local governments (cities, school districts, libraries, etc.) can be assessed with legal fees and punitive fines if they even try to introduce firearms polices.
Andy Zweifler and I spoke against this bill. It stiffles our local attempts to do the “right thing” for our kids in schools and our hospitals- no guns.
I will attach my comments in another post.
Now, we need to gather voices to oppose this bill. Will your medical society cast a NO? The MAFP is coming on board. The Michigan Sheriffs oppose it.  We will need help from  other voices. If there is a coalition the governor likely will not want this bill at this time.

A Good Year- 2015! and our first Annual Report

February 1st, 2016 | Posted by in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

PPGV Annual Report 2015
Physicians for the Prevention of Gun Violence (PPGV) is a Michigan based group with its conception in 2007 following the shooting at Virginia Tech. and its organization in 2011 after US Rep. Gabby Gifford’s shooting in Tucson. In 2015 we grew to a statewide group of 330 doctors with a Mission Statement: “Michigan physicians, educated and empowered to advocate for gun violence prevention.” We have professors and deans, journal editors, over a dozen heads of departments in our group. We are scientists directed to act in the public interest during this health crisis of over 30,000 deaths, 70,000 injuries, and costs approaching $250 billion annually.
Operations. We function with a monthly executive committee (EC). We added extensively to the EC in 2015. Among those joining were: Ellen Arneson, PA, as our official secretary, Sonya Lewis, Jeffrey Tulin-Silver, William (Bill) Wadland, and Walter (Mac) Whitehouse. Cheryl Farmer rejoined the EC. AC (Chris) Elkins and Kenneth Silk plan to return. These additions allowed us to become a more effective unit and will help us grow.
Presentations. An important PPGV focus is education. We gave presentations of grand rounds to the Washtenaw County Medical Society, UM Public Health School, St. Joseph Pediatrics, and medical students at UM. The Michigan section of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (MIACOG) and a Washtenaw Co. womens’ professional group invited us to speak. We toured Michigan State Medical School’s sites- visiting Flint, Marquette, Traverse City, Midland, and Lansing with plans to return to Lansing and to Grand Rapids In 2016. We will present at the Snow Meeting of MiACOG in February. After these presentations with lively conversations we added 130 members- a 65% growth in membership and three new physician leaders. And we continued to add important patient and physician gun violence stories.
Advocacy. PPGV gave statements in Lansing before the legislature on two important bills. Dr. Walden presented in a losing cause before the House committee on a bill to disband local gun licensing boards. Washtenaw County lost its local board. Dr. Lewis also presented to the Mi. Senate on Bill 442 to allow guns in public places previously off limits including schools and hospitals. That bill passed the committee but is not voted out to the senate floor, partly due to our opposition. The NY Times quoted us on SB 442 http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/11/03/us/gun-owners-concealed-carry-schools.html and the Guardian quoted us on the phasing out of local gun licensing boards. gu.com/p/4ekc4/stw
Letters and Resources. Dr. Cheryl Farmer had a letter to the editor published in the Detroit Free Press advising readers that most major medical societies are striving to prevent gun violence. Dr. Zweifler developed “Children and Guns” a PPGV handout for primary care offices.file:///C:/Users/jswalden/Documents/Downloads/Downloads/PPGV_handout_Revised%255bcompressed%255d-1-1.pdf We are also distributing “Parents Guide to Home Firearm Safety” by the UM Injury Center http://www.injurycenter.umich.edu/sites/default/files/documents/firearm_safety_flyer_final_4-30-15.pdf as well as “Advice that Could Save Lives” View & Order Today! from the National Physicians Alliance (npalliance.org).
Meetings and Demonstrations. We attended 2 national meetings; NPA and Brady Campaign in Washington. These gave us good ideas and important partners on the national scene. We also went to Detroit and Lansing to join in demonstrations, at times wearing our white coats.
UM Medical School Curriculum. Physician-patient encounters related to gun violence prevention are being developed.
Partners. In 2015 PPGV partnered with the Michigan Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, a multi- member group. We have relationships with local government, WCMS, MAFP including its Advocacy Committee, UM, MSU and WSU. Nationally, we have members in the NPA and its Gun Violence Task Force, Doctors for America, and the National Medical Council on Gun Violence.
Activism. We continue to work to ensure that our hospitals and clinics are gun-free. We want to protect our rights to speak frankly to our patients about their safety, to work for the repeal of Michigan’s “Stand Your Ground” law, and to support the policies of our state and national medical societies on gun violence. We hope to help make any needed preventive changes focusing on Michigan.
Upcoming: We look forward to bringing a national speaker in 2016. This will require significant fund raising. We hope to share this event with others in the Washtenaw County area or with Lansing or Detroit. We also look forward to visiting your hospital, clinic, or medical school campus to make a presentation. We have our work cut out in 2016.

Nearing the End of the MSU Tour

January 15th, 2016 | Posted by in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

On Tuesday, January 12, PPGV members Jerry Walden, Bill Wadland and Jim Peggs conducted our PPGV powerpoint presentation at Grand Rounds for the Department of Internal Medicine at Sparrow Hospital, Lansing. Estimated attendance was 30 individuals; the audience was attentive, engaged and inquisitive. We added another 14 names to our member list. Whether we ultimately managed to change behavior of any physicians or their at-risk patients is purely hopeful but at least the issue received appropriate attention.
Our next scheduled presentation is on Feb. 23 at DeVos Children’s Hospital in G.R.
We are readying our First Annual Report. Membership is now about 345 from 200 a year ago!
More Good News from Lansing- SB 442 on allowing Guns in Schools, Hospitals, College Campuses and Bars seems stalled at present. Be ready to write for a veto from Gov. Snyder!

National News-A Quote from the Guardian Dec. 1

December 9th, 2015 | Posted by in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Ryan Felton in Detroit
A Michigan law that goes into effect Tuesday has eliminated an individualized gun license screening that critics say has prevented many potentially dangerous individuals from obtaining a concealed carry license.

The law to eliminate local gun boards marks a long-sought legislative victory for gun rights advocates, who argued the boards indiscriminately rejected applicants, and comes as the Michigan legislature is set to continue debating a bill that would expand access to guns across the state.

But critics of the gun board elimination say local law enforcement officials have lost a safety net to prevent concealed pistol license (CPL) applicants with mental health issues or criminal backgrounds from obtaining a license.

For nearly 90 years, Michigan counties used a three-member gun board – comprised of local law enforcement officials – to either issue, deny, revoke or suspend such licenses.

If an individual wasn’t explicitly disqualified under state law, the boards could still deny a license following a face-to-face interview with an applicant, which could reveal issues that otherwise wouldn’t emerge in a criminal background check. Nearly 350 applicants were denied a license by a gun board in the fiscal year 2013-2014.
“Local law enforcement often knows persons who are not safe to have a CPL,” said Jerry Walden of the 220-member group Physicians for the Prevention of Gun Violence, during his testimony in February against the change.
“Examples of those denied licenses include 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.”

Under the change, county clerks and state police will now assume responsibility for the application process. Applicants are required to disclose whether they’ve been diagnosed with a mental illness, but federal law prohibits Michigan state police – which will now determine an applicant’s eligibility – from accessing mental health records, unless involuntary treatment has been ordered by a court.
Complete article link below.
Michigan law takes effect eliminating gun license screening by local boards http://gu.com/p/4ekc4/stw

PPGV on the Move-the MSU Tour continues

December 9th, 2015 | Posted by in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

On Thursday, Dec 3, PPGV members Bill Wadland, Sonya Lewis and Jim Peggs made a Grand Rounds presentation at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing entitled “ Gun Violence and Firearm Safety: The Physician’s Role.” The audience included resident physicians from both Pediatrics and Family Medicine as well as a number of staff and teaching physicians and non-physician providers. The estimated attendance was 60 people and they proved to be a receptive and responsive audience. The discussion was particularly poignant since the San Bernadino rampage had occurred the prior day!
The speakers maintained their focus on practical ways in which clinicians can decrease the risk of gun violence in populations of patients that are particularly vulnerable: children, depressed individuals especially when users of alcohol, and people, especially women, exposed to intimate partner or domestic violence. The importance of asking about the presence of guns in the home was endorsed especially ways to “normalize” the gun question amidst other health behavior issues such as use of bike helmets, seat belts, smoking, etc. Approximately 2 dozen individuals added their names and email addresses to our member list by the end of the hour-long session. Similar presentations are scheduled in January and February for Lansing and Grand Rapids.

Gun Rights are not Absolute

December 8th, 2015 | Posted by in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)



End the Gun Epidemic in America

December 8th, 2015 | Posted by in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)


New York Times Carries Quote-PPGV Goes National!

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

It seems that our fight to keep guns out of schools, hospitals, bars etc. has gained national attention. We were quoted in the New York Times! This quote on Nov. 3, 2015 was taken from my testimony when I spoke in Lansing against SB 442.

Sonya Lewis

Dr. Sonya Lewis testifies against SB 442, allowing guns in schools

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

October 13, 2015
Senate Judiciary Committee
Lansing, Michigan
Opposition to SB 442
Sonya Lewis, MD, MPH

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and guests.

I am honored to speak to you today as a representative of Physicians for the Prevention of Gun Violence (PPGV), a group of approximately 300 Michigan physicians who are working across the state to address the devastating epidemic of firearm violence that has affected our state and our country. As a psychiatrist, a public health advocate, and the mother of two school-aged children, I have a professional and personal interest in reducing the risks for firearm-related injuries and ensuring the safety of our children. I am confident that none us here want to experience another Columbine, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, Umpqua, or any shooting – high profile or otherwise – ever again.

PPGV strongly opposes Senate Bill 442. This bill, if passed, will threaten the health and safety of countless men, women and children in our state by making it easier to bring guns into sensitive areas such as schools, hospitals, bars, and places of worship. This is a dangerous bill that should never become law.

Gun violence in America is a public health crisis. With over 30,000 deaths and twice that many injuries per year attributable to gun violence (“Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence – Gun Law Information Experts,” 2015) we cannot ignore this national emergency. We must address this problem immediately, and to do so we must use a public health approach. One of the fundamental components of public health is prevention. We seek to reduce and eliminate risk before illness, injury or tragedy strikes. In my remarks today, I will demonstrate that guns in our environment, particularly in areas such as those addressed in SB 442 represent an unacceptable risk, and the only logical way to promote health and safety is to reduce – not increase – exposure to firearms.

Firearms have no place in our schools where they may become easily available to children if left unsecured. Prior research demonstrates that one third of homes with children contain firearms and that in over 40% of these homes, firearms are not stored safely (Schuster et all, 2000). Since we know that unsafe storage of firearms in the home is common, we have no reason to expect that guns would be safety stored in schools. Let me remind you of the Macomb County assistant prosecutor – a CPL holder – who in March of this year absentmindedly left his jacket in the gymnasium of his son’s elementary school. Concealed within the jacket was a handgun. Thankfully in this instance nobody was harmed (Burns, 2015). However, this situation could easily have ended tragically. Consider the following statistics:

♣ 50% of all fatal firearm accidents among children occurred after a child found and began playing with an unsecured firearm (NVDRS 2010).
♣ 25% of children as young as 3-4 years old are strong enough to pull the trigger on a firearm that they find while playing (Naureckas et al., 1995).
♣ Among high school youth – suicide is the third leading cause of death (CDC, 2010).

We know that adolescents can frequently act on impulse, a potentially lethal scenario when coupled with access to unsecured firearms. With these facts in mind, how many of us here would feel comfortable if our children had access to unsecured firearms at school?

Proponents of SB 442 will tell you that the presence of firearms will prevent injury by allowing teachers and adults to act defensively in the face of a threat. However in a 2015 study, Hemenway & Solnick showed that firearms were used in less than 1% of violent crimes as a defensive weapon, and
among events where a firearm was used defensively there was no evidence that they decreased the risk of injury to the victim. Why, then, if the increased presence of firearms doesn’t actually confer a benefit would we allow them onto our school campuses particularly when the risks of injury are well established?

Proponents of SB 442 will tell you that expanding right to carry laws leads to reduced crime. This argument is based on a deeply flawed study from 1997, but unfortunately, is still widely cited. The National Research Council has discredited the conclusions from this study and subsequent research has actually suggested that expanding right to carry laws may be associated with an increase, rather than a decrease, in some crimes (Anaja, Donohue, & Zhang, 2012). Why, then, if credible research fails to demonstrate any benefit to the expansion of right to carry laws would we ever consider making it easier to carry guns into our schools, our hospitals and our places of worship?

Proponents of SB 442 will maintain that only properly licensed and trained CPL holders will be allowed to carry firearms in these sensitive areas – as if that should provide us reassurance. Let me remind you of the minimal training that is required of CPL holders in the state of Michigan (Michigan State Police, 2014):

• New CPL applicants only need 8 hours of training, and only 3 of those need be on a firing range.
• The CPL is valid for 5 years. No continuing education or training is required during this period.
• To renew a CPL an applicant need only certify that he has reviewed three hours worth of safety training and spent ONE hour on a firing range in the preceding 6 months.

This very low level of training should give us significant pause as we consider the challenges a CPL holder might face in an active shooter situation. To quote Harvard researcher David Hemenway:

“Police officers, who receive large amounts of training, are still often inadequately prepared to handle ambiguous but potentially dangerous situations. Intense stress, confusion, and fear are inherent in most possible shooting situations. Heart rates skyrocket, and it is difficult to think clearly and to act deliberately (Diaz 2001a). Not surprisingly, even police make serious mistakes. Individuals without training are likely to do much worse.” (Hemenway, 2004, p. 70)

Are we to seriously believe that ordinary citizens with limited practical experience are capable of mounting an effective response in an active shooter scenario?

Finally, Proponents of SB 442 argue that allowing for concealed carry rather than open carry is a valid solution to the “open carry loophole” because it will eliminate the disruption and fear that open carry creates. I submit to you that out of sight does not equal out of mind. More importantly, out of sight does not equal out of danger! A concealed threat is no less dangerous than one that is visible. Guns, openly carried or concealed have no place in schools, hospitals, bars, houses of worship, or in any of the other areas impacted by this bill.

In closing, I am confident that I speak for all of us here today when I say we all wish for peace and safety throughout our state, our country, and our world. Where we disagree sharply is how to achieve that goal. While proponents of SB 442 may believe that they have the right to carry firearms in virtually all locations at all times, I want you to carefully consider the evidence I have presented today that clearly illustrates why this practice is dangerous. When we decrease exposure to hazards, we decrease the likelihood of harm. It is incumbent upon us to minimize risk in order to maximize health and safety. We must keep firearms out of schools and all of the other sensitive areas impacted by SB 442. Our children’s lives depend on it.

Thank you.

Works Cited:

Anaja, A., Donohue, J., & Zhang, A. (2012). The Impact of Right to Carry Laws and the NRC Report: The Latest Lessons for the Empirical Evaluation of Law and Policy. National Bureau of Economic Research.
Burns, G. (2015, March 3). http://www.mlive.com/news/detroit/index.ssf/2015/03/macomb_county_assistant_prosec.html. MLive [Ann Arbor, MI].

Hemenway, D. (2004). Private guns, public health. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Hemenway, D., & Solnick, S. J. (2015). The epidemiology of self-defense gun use: Evidence from the National Crime Victimization Surveys 2007-2011. Prev Med, 10(79), 22-27. doi:10.1016/j.ypmed.2015.03.029

Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence – Gun Law Information Experts. (2015, April 17). Retrieved from http://smartgunlaws.org/category/gun-studies-statistics/gun-violence-statistics/

Michigan State Police. (2014, October). Concealed Pistol License Guide and Application. Retrieved from http://michigan.gov/documents/ri-012_7736_7.pdf

Michigan State Police. (2014, October). Concealed Pistol License Guide and Application. Retrieved from http://michigan.gov/documents/ri-012_7736_7.pdf

National Research Council. (2005). Firearms and Violence: A
Critical Review. Committee to Improve Research Information and Data on
Firearms. Charles F. Wellford, John V. Pepper, and Carol V. Petrie, editors.
Committee on Law and Justice, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and
Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

Naureckas, S. M., Galanter, C., Naureckas, E. T., Donovan, M., & Christoffel, K. K. (1995). Children’s and women’s ability to fire handguns. The Pediatric Practice Research Group. Archives of Pediatric Medicine, 149(12), 1318-1322.

Products – Data Briefs – Number 37 – May 2010. (2010, May 5). Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db37.htm

Schuster, M. A., Franke, T. M., Bastian, A. M., Sor, S., & Halfon, N. (2000). Firearm storage patterns in US homes with children. American Journal of Public Health, 90(4), 588-594.