The Problem With Docs 'Staying In Their Lane' Is They Only See One Side

I’ve stayed out of the whole mess between a group of physicians and the National Rifle Association.

In case you missed it, the NRA told doctors to “stay in their lane” when it comes to guns. A number of doctors responded by posting gory photos of themselves to argue that gun control was their lane.


It was a thing, but then it died down. Now, The Post and Courier is wading into it with an editorial, but in the process, it points out the problem with the doctors’ positions.

Guns aren’t necessarily related to public health. They’re inanimate objects. But bullet holes in people who have been shot by people with guns are very much a health concern.

And considering that more than 100,000 people in the United States are injured or killed by firearms in an average year, according to the National Institutes of Health, gun violence is a problem with which many health professionals are too intimately acquainted.

That’s why it was so galling for the National Rifle Association to tweet out criticism of medical research on gun violence earlier this month, saying “someone should tell self-important, anti-gun doctors to stay in their lane.”

Doctors responded with graphic, bloody photos demonstrating the extent to which shootings are very much “their lane.”

“The medical profession has a special responsibility to speak out on prevention of firearm-related injuries and deaths, just as physicians have spoken out on other public health issues,” the Annals of Internal Medicine report said.

The problem is that doctors only see one side of it.

While there may be 100,000 people killed or injured by firearms each year, according to the CDC, there are 2.4 million people who use a firearm in self-defense every year.

Doctors working in emergency rooms see horrible things, including way too many innocent people shot by the thoughtless, the careless, or the downright evil, but they don’t see people who aren’t in the emergency room because they had a firearm. They don’t see some of these folks torn up by wild animals or with injuries consistent with being beaten with a crowbar. They don’t treat would-be victims of stabbings or other terrible injuries. They don’t see all of these things because as many as 2.5 million people – every year, mind you – use a gun to keep themselves out of the emergency room or even worse, the morgue.


Many people like to argue that having doctors lead this fight is akin to them pushing for mandated seatbelts in cars. The problem with this is that driving isn’t considered a fundamental civil right. Owning and carrying a firearm is, and because of that, there’s going to be some high tensions in the discussion, especially when some doctors are popping off based on emotion rather than recognizing that there’s a whole lot more going on that they don’t see.

Doctors see the individual bleeding in front of them. They don’t see the family who didn’t come in because the rapist who broke into their home got a face full of buckshot instead.

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