Dr. Durston – In response to your allegation that my response to the Orlando mass shooting was inane and is an embarrassment to you, I must respond. The statement to which you refer was written and released immediately after the shooting. It was meant to express my prayers for those who were hurt and killed as well as what ACEP was doing in an attempt to have our communities be better prepared in the future.
If you saw any of my public statements in multiple news organizations which followed those initial words, some of which were video-recorded, you would see that I called gun-related violence a public health catastrophe and shared my personal sentiment that much more must be done by our federal legislators. I even traveled to Washington, DC on June 17 catching a 5:40 a.m. flight after working a clinical shift until 11:30 p.m. the night before in order to speak to a group of 40 legislative aides gathered by House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer to talk about what we should do together to stem this plethora of mass casualty incidents. A video captured after that talk is available on ACEP.org.
At times I have had to indicate that I have personal sentiments (which I elucidated) which differ from a significant number of ACEP members. While you criticize me for not doing enough, I have been condemned by some ACEP members for calling firearm-related violence a public health crisis and for saying too much. Please remember that I must represent all of our members. We have had vigorous debates at our Council meeting about ACEP’s position on this issue, and I expect that we will have many more. A change in our “Firearm Safety and Injury Prevention” clinical policy has come before the Board and a workgroup is being put together to ensure appropriate revisions. I will certainly share your name with Becky Parker who will be assuming the ACEP Presidency in mid-October and will be watching over those deliberations.
I have reiterated ACEP’s 2013 policy which includes the following efforts:
- Firearm safety and injury prevention research;
- Create a confidential national firearm injury research registry while encouraging states to establish a uniform approach to tracking and
- Recording firearm related injuries;
- Promote access to effective, affordable, and sustainable mental health services;
- Protect the duty of physicians and encourage health care provider discussions with patients on firearm safety;
- Promote the development of technology that increases firearm safety;
- Support universal background checks for firearm transactions;
- Require the enforcement of existing laws and support new legislation that prevents high risk and prohibited individuals from obtaining firearms by any means;
- Restrict the sale and ownership of weapons, munitions, and large-capacity magazines that are designed for military or law enforcement use
I take your comments very seriously. You would not know that my own family has been affected by gun violence. One of my nieces, who lives in Springfield, Oregon, was in her high school cafeteria when she was shot by a student gunman in 1998. She survived but she still carries the bullet in her pelvis as well as the post-traumatic effects of that experience; her best friend was shot in the head and died.
I understand that you are President of the new organization which you mention, Americans against Gun Violence. I wish you well in your efforts. ACEP has stood publicly against gun violence. Our policy promotes some of the measures which you support. We will continue to advocate for stronger laws to protect the public and decrease the penetrating trauma which we unfortunately see so often in our emergency departments.
Jay Kaplan, MD, FACEP
President, American College of Emergency Physicians