Doctor behind viral tweet to NRA says gun lobby started the fight
The American pathologist whose response to the NRA's call for "self-important anti-gun doctors to stay in their lane" went viral says the powerful gun lobby started the fight.
- Dr Melinek wants federal guidelines based on research and in line with the constitution
- She is uncertain why there's debate around whether doctors should be able to research gun violence
- Says doctors have had enough of dealing with gun violence and are pushing back
Dr Judy Melinek was preparing for another autopsy on a gunshot victim when she saw the tweet. It made her angry.
"How dare they tell us to stay in our lane, when actually it's the other way around," she told RN Drive.
Dr Melinek, a forensic pathologist who spent months examining remains from the 9/11 World Trade Centre attack, is familiar with the consequences of gun violence.
"Do you have any idea how many bullets I pull out of corpses weekly? This isn't just my lane, it's my f*****g highway," she tweeted in response to the NRA tweet.
Dr Melinek sees at least one or two gunshot deaths a week and estimates her five colleagues have about the same amount of cases.
But it's not just deaths that have outraged doctors, many of whom shared images, X-rays and stories about dealing with the horrific results of gun violence.
"The doctors in the hospital have a much better perspective on the survivors, the ones who suffer from devastating abdominal injuries, brain injuries, traumatic injuries that they survive but have effects on their lives and livelihood for the rest of their life," she said.
WARNING: Some readers my find this content disturbing.
The NRA's tweet, which criticised guidelines released by the American College of Physicians telling doctors to ask their patients about guns in the home, hit a nerve due to its bad timing, Dr Melinek said.
"They tweeted this out and it just so happened it was several hours before a mass shooting incident in Thousand Oaks California, which claimed the lives of 12 victims, not including the shooter," she said.
"We had this confluence of an event in Pittsburgh the week before, this tweet coming out, and then another mass fatality incident."
Medical professionals have had enough, she said.
"This is really a pushback on behalf of the doctors. They started this fight. We didn't start this."
For years research into gun violence, which advocated for greater firearms controls, had been restricted.
"The research restriction has been lifted, but they haven't been funding research, so it's essentially silenced doctors who want to do research on gun violence," Dr Melinek said.
She is uncertain why there is such intense debate about whether doctors should be allowed to conduct research on gun violence.
"Epidemiology is the study of diseases and injuries, and doctors have advocated — not just in the United States but throughout the world — for safer cars," she said.
"The seatbelts that we currently have, those airbags, they wouldn't be in vehicles if physicians and epidemiologists didn't research motor vehicle fatalities and advocate for those improvements, even arguing with the auto industry.
"And when it comes to tobacco, doctors took on big tobacco because they were denying for many years — decades — that cigarette smoke causes lung cancer and heart disease."
Dr Melinek knows any controls need to be in line with the constitution, which allows for owning a weapon.
"The question is, what kind of weapon?" she said.
"Can that individual get multiple weapons or easy access if they have a track record of being violent or have suicidal ideations?
"That's where the restrictions can reasonably come in."
As part of her campaign, Dr Melinek wants federal guidelines that can be applied to all the states in the US.
External Link: Tweet from Stephanie Bonne: Hey @NRA ! Wanna see my lane? Here's the chair I sit in when I tell parents their kids are dead. How dare you tell me I can't research evidence based solutions. External Link: Tweet from Mahau Dey: Bullet I took out of a 6 month old's brain. @NRA you created my lane! #stayinmylane #ThisISMyLane #GunControlNow #Docs4GunSense External Link: Tweet from ScrubbedCTSurg: 16 y/o GSW to the Aorta.@NRA his mother is in the waiting room. Should you tell her he didnt make it? Didnt think so. #stayinmylane #ThisISMyLane External Link: Tweet from DShadowgazer