When the National Rifle Association tweeted Nov. 7 that doctors should “stay in their lane” on the topic of gun control, that message did not sit well with Dr. Joseph Sakran.
The Johns Hopkins Hospital trauma surgeon is himself a victim of gun violence and has been a vocal advocate for funding more research of what he calls “a uniquely American problem.”
So Sakran launched a Twitter campaign, which includes an account called @ThisIsOurLane, following the uproar from members of the medical community over the NRA tweet.
The new account has garnered more than 12,500 followers and is geared toward medical professionals proposing solutions to prevent firearm injury and death.
The NRA first tweeted a link Nov. 7 to a commentary on doctors’ roles in advocating for gun control. Accompanying the commentary link, the NRA tweeted “Someone should tell self-important anti-gun doctors to stay in their lane. Half of the articles in Annals of Internal Medicine are pushing for gun control. Most upsetting, however, the medical community seems to have consulted NO ONE but themselves.”
The NRA did not respond to requests for comment.
Sakran called the NRA’s message a “gross estimation” of what doctors have to contribute to reducing firearm deaths, he said Monday.
“You know, when I saw it I was very surprised because I think that type of message just demonstrates the lack of understanding of how complex a problem this is and their inability to want to move the needle forward on this issue,” Sakran said.
Sakran has experienced the physical devastation of a gun shot wound first hand. When he was 17 years old, he was shot in the throat during a fight after a football game. He had multiple surgeries to help him breathe and speak, and the experience inspired him to become a trauma surgeon.
Sakran believes Americans should search for common ground on addressing gun violence. He is frustrated that national conversations about firearm safety seem to follow mass shootings, which he added is only a fraction of the problem. In Baltimore, more than 200 people have died from gunshots this year.
“People on both sides want to polarize the issue,” he said. “This is not us versus them.”
His message to the NRA and followers of his Twitter campaign is that gun violence is a problem that requires a variety of stakeholders, he said.
“The medical community is front and center,” Sakran said. “We are the people on the front line. We are the ones that have to care for these patients day in and day out.”