Letter from the Editor
Can you stand to read one more thing about gun violence? I hope so.
In this issue of Brown Medicine, Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine Megan Ranney writes about a new organization of physicians who, citing the lack of federal funding, have come together to sponsor research on gun violence prevention. Ranney and others have written volumes on the prohibition of using federal dollars to research gun safety. But she’s also the director of the digital health initiative in the Department of Emergency Medicine, and been voted one of the “top docs to follow on Twitter” (@meganranney). It was natural that she turned to Twitter after the Parkland, FL, high school shooting in February to ask fellow physicians to share their stories of how gun violence had affected them.
Tagging their anecdotes with #docs4gunsense, all types of health professionals told the “story they will never forget”: informing a parent their child had died from a gunshot wound; caring for a patient paralyzed or in a permanent vegetative state after a gun injury; mourning a colleague who had taken his or her own life with a firearm. Added to these traumas was the impact on health care workers themselves, who carry what Ranney calls “the burden of lives lost.” Is it any wonder that our doctors, nurses, and first responders are burning out when faced with so much violent, preventable death?
Ranney is part of a new research consortium funded by the National Institute on Child Health and Development that will provide $5 million to build research capacity to study firearm injuries among children and teens. As she points out, given the dearth of research, it’s hard to make evidence-based policy decisions. And as her Twitter experiment shows, this research is important not only for the patients who are in the literal crossfire—but also for the physicians and caregivers and others who are caught by the ricochet.
The last time I published an opinion piece by Megan Ranney, I received a letter to the editor that told me why she was wrong about guns. I encouraged the writer to flesh out his thoughts in his own piece, which I would publish in the next issue. He declined, saying he didn’t want to deal with the backlash his opinions, which he knew “would be unpopular at Brown,” would cause.
If you read Ranney’s opinion piece (which would mean you’ve read two more things about gun violence, sorry) and you have a differing opinion, be brave and submit your own. There is space in this magazine for different viewpoints.