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Haunted by Gun Violence

By Dr. Lisa Plymate

I am still haunted, over 30 years later, by the 18-year old woman I saw in the Emergency Room during my residency at the University of New Mexico. She had been shot in the chest, but was fully conscious when she arrived. "I'm not going to die, am I?" she asked plaintively. We worked as hard as we could on her, even cracking open her chest to massage her torn heart, but, tragically, all to no avail.

Years later, while making home visits, I encountered a 78-year old woman with severe rheumatoid arthritis who lived in subsidized housing in Richmond, VA. When I tried to coax her into at least taking walks in her first-floor apartment for exercise, she told me she wouldn't stand up after 2 p.m., because that was when the junior high kids got out of school, and "I might be shot."

Many of us have stories like these that we carry with us from our every day practices. While nothing will erase these tragedies, there is something we can do about them.

Over one thousand doctors and health advocates have signed our petition urging Congress to end the CDC ban on gun violence research. We will be delivering these signatures to Congress the week after Thanksgiving and need your help in gathering even more signatures in the final push, to reach our new goal of 2,000.

Please raise your voice and join us so we can speak up for all our patients, past, present and future, who may be impacted by gun violence. 

This is a problem we can tackle! And we need to start by supporting, not banning, gun violence research at the CDC. Let's gather more of the data we need; let's have a resource that enables us to compare the effectiveness of various interventions.

Thank you for working for our patients and our families.

Lisa Plymate is our Washington State Director and an internist/geriatrician based in Seattle Washington.


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