#THISISMYLANE

The NRA unleashed the wrath of social media with one of their typical tone-deaf tweets.

Let's set aside for a moment that the NRA has been shown to be a front for Russian influence to funnel money to pro-Russian politicians and is tirelessly working to destabilize American society by promoting mass shootings and criminality. Let's just talk what doctors know about guns.

A typical floor after a trauma for GSW.
I had several pairs of shoes that went
from white to red and had to be thrown
away after a shift. 
Thirty years ago I started working at a Level I Trauma Center in Columbia, SC. Back then it was Richland Memorial Hospital (Palmetto-Richland today). We were affiliated with the University of South Carolina School of Medicine. I worked on both the trauma and orthopedic teams. I was in my early twenties and lived for the adrenalin rush trauma provided.

Now that I'm in my fifties, I'm not sure I could do the same job. Not just physically, but mentally. The things we saw on the weekends when the "Gun and Knife Club" were in full swing on the streets was almost unimaginable.

I'm not a surgeon, just a CST and later First Assistant. I ended my career in family practice as a CMA which was rewarding but definitely not an adrenalin rush. I was the guy who handled the instruments and held the retractors when a med student wasn't available for abuse. I was the one who did chest compressions while my second scrub grabbed the stuff to crack a chest when things went south. However, I was close to many of the surgeons in the OR. We depended on each other and I will always be honored for the trust they placed in their teams. There are a handful of doctors in this world whom I would never question should they want to cut on me. Three of those are trauma surgeons I worked with at Richland.

So, with that in mind, let me tell you why guns are most definitely the lane of doctors.

My first C-Section was a pregnant woman who had been shot by a boyfriend. Luckily, both she and the baby survived. That's why this tweet broke my heart.


I once had to go with my RN circulating nurse to tell a mother that her son had died from a gunshot wound (we say GSW). She fell on the floor screaming in grief and agony. We sat on the floor with her and her family trying to console her until the rest of her family arrived. This tweet from a trauma surgeon brought that back.
Although I wasn't on the neuro team, I was called to fill in many times. I remember one of the surgeons pulling bullet fragments out of the brain of a young man who'd been shot in the head. Our gallows humor sometimes had to be employed to keep us from breaking down. I can remember the quiet of the room and as he dropped each fragment into a basin he would say: "There goes the first kiss." (plunk) "There goes prom." (plunk) "There goes graduation."
One scene I can see clearly as I write this is one of my residents literally riding a patient into the OR on a gurney performing CPR. The man had been shot in the chest and coded on the way to the OR for us to crack his chest. He didn't survive.
And let's not even go into detail on:

  • The dozens of non-fatal but life-changing injuries caused by easy access to guns during domestic arguments - usually in the groin or belly - just to be extra cruel. 
  • The permanently handicapped by gunshot and shotgun blasts to legs or arms where there was not enough bone or tissue left to save the limb.
  • Permanently disfigured people who botched a suicide attempt by shooting off half their face.
Gun violence is most definitely the purview of doctors. The NRA has one overriding principle and that is to promote guns at any cost. Doctors have one overriding principle and that is to save lives. The way we save lives is to have honest and practical discussions about how to curb gun violence. And let's be real, the answer to gun violence is NEVER more guns.

It's time the NRA accept that they need to stay in their lane. That lane is promoting the interests of gun manufacturers. We all know what you're about. If you can't be part of the solution it's time we all ignore them and any politician who ever takes a penny of their Russian money.