Why doctors say gun violence is ‘their lane’

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A new editorial digs into the explosive spread of the Twitter hashtag #ThisIsOurLane, which health care professionals are using to argue for their role in addressing gun violence.

News of mass shootings has become devastatingly common in the United States, and at the same time the rate of suicide-by-firearm is silently increasing. The need to treat gun violence as a public health crisis has never been more urgent, many experts argue.

In that context, Megan Ranney, an emergency physician who is also an associate professor at the Warren Alpert Medical School and School of Public Health at Brown University, cowrote the new editorial to examine the spread of #ThisIsOurLane, born after a November tweet from the National Rifle Association.

“We are working together, across the political spectrum, to solve this epidemic…”

The three authors were among thousands of health care professionals across the country who assert that firearm injury prevention is, in fact, their lane.

“We are working together, across the political spectrum, to solve this epidemic,” says Ranney, who is also an emergency physician and injury prevention researcher at Rhode Island Hospital. “As a physician and a researcher, I know that it doesn’t have to be this way. We can create innovative solutions to reduce firearm injury, the same way we’ve done for car crash deaths and HIV.”

Ranney and her coauthors focus on the role of physicians and other health care professionals in identifying sensible solutions to the gun violence epidemic, especially as social media has coalesced the voices of these experts. They highlight that #ThisIsOurLane is neither the beginning nor the end of this work.

“This hashtag isn’t a new movement… It reflects the daily work of doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals…”

Ranney’s own Twitter hashtag—#docs4gunsense—created after the Parkland, Florida, shootings, yielded hundreds of responses from physicians and other healthcare workers who shared traumatic summaries of their experiences with the aftermath of gun violence. She is an expert in non-partisan public health research on firearm injury and is among a national group of physicians bringing the matter to the public’s attention.

“This hashtag isn’t a new movement,” Ranney says. “It reflects the daily work of doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals, year in and year out, to not just save victims of gun violence—but also to prevent it.”

In the editorial, she shares not just stories from physicians, but also examples of the non-partisan work that physicians and health care organizations are doing to stop firearm injury.

“At the end of the day, it’s about keeping our patients, families, and communities safe,” she says.

The editorial appears in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Ranney’s coauthors are from the University of Colorado and the Baylor College of Medicine. Ranney serves as chief research officer for the American Foundation for Firearm Injury Reduction in Medicine and has held roles on numerous task forces related to efforts to stem gun violence, including co-chairing Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo’s Task Force on Gun Violence.

Source: Brown University