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Doctors to NRA: Talking gun control is ‘in our lane’

A patient is wheeled into the emergency room at Mercy Medical Center in Roseburg, Ore., following a deadly shooting at Umpqua Community College, in Roseburg, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015. (Aaron Yost/Roseburg News-Review via AP)

The National Rifle Association criticized doctors taking a strong stance on gun control, and it has some in the profession questioning the organization’s reasoning.

Dr. Saman Arbabi is a member of both the King County Medical Society and the King County Gun Violence Task Force, and had some thoughts of his own on the NRA’s pointed criticism.

“I think in general, when you look at history, whenever a group of people are told to stay in their lane, it has never been appropriate,” Dr. Arbabi told Dave Ross on Seattle’s Morning News.

On Nov. 7, the NRA Tweeted out, “doctors need to stay in their lane.” For Dr. Arbabi, though, gun violence isn’t just something doctors have an opinion on — it’s something they deal with every day.

“As far as injury prevention, this is in fact ‘our lane,'” he said.

Doctors in trauma centers often find themselves on the front lines when it comes to gun violence, treating victims and seeing firsthand what a bullet does to a human body.

The NRA tweet garnered a heavy response — about 21,000 replies. There were some supporters, but a majority were from doctors, according to The New York Times. A neurosurgeon from Indiana shared a photo of a bloody bullet they just removed from the head of a 6-month-old baby. A doctor in New Jersey simply sent a photo of a blue chair — the chair she sits in when telling parents their child has died.

Responding to the NRA, emergency room physician Marianne Haughey had some choice words of her own, saying: “I see no one from the @nra next to me in the trauma bay as I have cared for victims of gun violence for the past 25 years,” she said on Twitter in response to the NRA.

“This one made it,” a Louisville doctor tweeted at the NRA. “… not sure about the next one. Gun violence is a national public heath issue.”

Gun control and health care

Dr. Arbabi’s own priorities are semi-automatic, high velocity weapons, primarily due to the problems they present for trauma doctors.

“At some point, as a trauma surgeon, we’re saying give us a fighting chance,” he said. “With high-powered velocity weapons, it’s really difficult to take care of patients.”

Arbabi isn’t arguing for exclusion on any end of the gun control spectrum either, advocating for everyone from mental health care professionals to gun owners to come to the table to negotiate.

In fact, he even goes so far to advocate that “gun owner rights should be protected.”

“It appears if we do it without all these lobbyists and sit down together, we may achieve a goal to keep the gun owner’s right in tact, and at the same time make our society safer,” he said.

“Obviously, this is a complicated issue, there’s no simple answer to it,” Arbabi admitted. “As physicians, we want all stakeholders to come together and discuss how we can decrease injury from guns.”

When it comes to gun control, a strong case can be made that it’s many people’s “lane,” including physicians, gun owners, victims, and anyone else whose life is touched in any way by gun violence.

That all being so, can a measured debate where everyone comes to the table together bring us a step closer to solving the gun crisis?

“I think that’s achievable,” said Dr. Arbabi.

RELATED: King County doctors to take on gun control, climate change

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