Violence, particularly, firearm violence, has been a specter of American tradition for many years, and its influence on public well being has been shrouded within the shadows for practically as lengthy, due to political lobbying by gun producers. An NPR article entitled “How The NRA Worked To Stifle Gun Violence Research,” revealed in April 2018, offers some historical past on the subject. A brief abstract? The Dickey Modification, handed in 1996, slashed funding for research on gun violence by 90 p.c and prohibited the CDC from supporting gun management. The Tiahrt Modification, handed in 2003, then prevented the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms from disseminating data relating to the acquisition historical past of weapons utilized in crimes. Each items of laws had been lobbied for by the Nationwide Rifle Affiliation (NRA), which relied on the age-old tactic of fear-mongering to maintain the general public at midnight concerning the public well being impacts of gun possession.
A spending invoice handed in March 2018 lastly gave the CDC funding to renew analysis on research about gun violence. A follow-up NPR article revealed in September 2021, “After 25 Years In The Darkish, The CDC Desires To Research The True Toll Of Weapons In America” sheds extra gentle on the difficulty and delves into the chances relating to coverage adjustments following step one of any scientific inquiry—knowledge gathering.
The extent of the lobbying behind the subject of gun violence ought to shock us as a result of, in some methods, it’s a gag order to cease speaking about it. And but, this doesn’t shock me. It doesn’t shock me as a result of, in 2012, 20 kids and 7 adults had been killed, with two extra injured at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut—the results of a private vendetta and easy accessibility to firearms. It doesn’t shock me as a result of in 2017, 60 folks had been killed, and 413 extra had been injured on the Route 91 Harvest Music Competition in Las Vegas—the one deadliest mass capturing in America. It doesn’t shock me as a result of in 2019, 23 folks had been killed and 23 extra injured at a Wal-Mart in El Paso, Texas, by a far-right white supremacist underneath a right-wing authorities.
The subject of numbness typically arises within the dialog surrounding gun violence. If there’s something I’ve discovered in class up to now, it’s that being numb dehumanizes our sufferers and ourselves. If we really feel nothing in any respect, we surrender the emotions of hope, pleasure, and peace that comes from achievement in our objectives and beliefs, and for many people, we got here to medical faculty to advocate for our sufferers and for our communities.
It’s simple to look away. It’s simple to neglect. And it’s simple to surrender. That’s the reason I’m writing this text now when there’s a lull within the information headlines about weapons and the lifelong trauma that accompanies shootings. That’s the reason I’m placing efforts towards higher understanding the CDC grant awards for analysis on gun violence and prevention and its potential impacts on public coverage.
“Essentially the most revolutionary factor you are able to do is graduate medical faculty” is a mantra typically repeated by the well being fairness leaders at my medical faculty. It’s a phrase that brings consolation throughout exhausting instances, an concept that validates the enormity of the battle of balancing coursework and neighborhood service. Watching the neighborhood I grew up in, and numerous different communities battle with the scourge of gun violence whereas making an attempt to study the pathophysiology behind kidney dysfunction is disorienting. However when the enormity of the duty at hand we have now overwhelms me, the potential for advocacy and studying what we will do to assist retains me going. It retains my mentors going. It retains my friends going. And we’ll by no means cease. That is our lane in drugs, prefer it or not.
Shreya Kumar is a medical scholar.