Following last week’s mass shooting in a California bar that killed 12 people, scores of doctors and other medical professionals have spoken out about the epidemic of American gun violence, describing it as a public health crisis.
Their comments seemed to draw the attention of the National Rifle Association, which tweeted last week that doctors should stay out of the debate about gun laws.
“Someone should tell self-important anti-gun doctors to stay in their lane,” the gun lobbying group tweeted. “The medical community seems to have consulted no one but themselves.”
That tweet set off a firestorm of responses from doctors and nurses who say that, as first responders, the issue of gun violence is one they’re familiar with. The hashtag #ThisIsMyLane began trending over the weekend.
“If it’s my job to locate the 15 shotgun pellets in my 3 year old patient’s abdomen, it is my job to try to prevent gun violence,” Jessica Boat Landry, a pediatrician from Houston, Texas, responded. “This is a public health crisis, let’s work together to study and solve it!”
“My ‘lane’ is dealing with emotional aftermath, not only endured by children but entire communities,” responded Nerissa Bauer, a doctor from Indianapolis. “Those surviving gun violence are victims too & can have lifelong effects.”
Some of the medical professionals responded angrily.
“Do you have any idea how many bullets I pull out of corpses weekly? This isn’t just my lane,” tweeted Judy Melinek, a forensic pathologist. “It’s my f—ing highway.”
“I’ve ruined scrubs from blood,” tweeted nurse practitioner Jennifer Corrigan. “Wiped off grey matter from my arms. Ran a level 1 with units of blood too [numerous] too count. I’ve held the hands of family members when they were told their loved one is dead. #ThisISOurLane
An ER physician from Sacramento who has served in the military also weighed in on the controversy — and attached a photograph of herself in her Army uniform.
“Hey NRA,” she tweeted. “In case you forgot, for us emergency medicine military physicians, GSW’s are not only in our lane, it’s our highways, byways and airways…always. Think before you speak fools. Happy Veteran’s Day.”
Mahua Dey, who identified herself on Twitter as a neurosurgeon, on Monday shared a photo of a bullet she said she had removed from a 6-month-old’s brain — and that the child did not survive the gunshot.
The operation, Dey wrote, was so “the baby looked somewhat recognizable to the parents so that they could say goodbye.”
“@NRA you created my lane!” Dey wrote.
The NRA has not publicly commented about the backlash to their tweet.