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Last Wednesday the NRA tweeted out a link to one of their magazine articles, titled “Surprise: Physician Group Rehashes Same Tired Gun Control Policies”. To promote the article, the NRA wrote “Someone should tell self-important anti-gun doctors to stay in their lane. Half of the articles in Annals of Internal Medicine are pushing for gun control. Most upsetting, however, the medical community seems to have consulted NO ONE but themselves.”

The tweet went out a few hours before the Thousand Oaks shooting. The NRA tweet had thousands of “likes” by mid-Thursday, but it also really riled up the medical community who started replying back with personal stories, like this one: “Was I supposed to consult the NRA when my elderly patient with dementia accidentally shot himself holstering a gun he legally owned?” Or this: “After treating countless patients with life altering spinal cord injuries and brain injuries secondary to gun shot wounds, I would have to say this is my lane.” And this: “Next time I have 16yo boy shot through the spine and liver, paralyzed and terrified, gasping for air, and have to pretend to reassure him that we will do our best as he only survives long enough to make it to the OR table, I’ll be sure to call you to come tell the family. This IS my lane!” Lots sent in photos of bloody shoes and bloody hands from working in operating rooms with the hashtag #This IS my lane”

What apparently drove the NRA to be so critical of the medical community was a recent article in an Internal Med journal published in late Oct. in the aftermath of the synagogue and Kentucky Kroger shootings. In that journal,  the American College of Physicians shared new recommendations on how doctors can play a role in reducing gun violence across the country. The medical association has long maintained that firearm-related deaths and injuries should be treated as an urgent public health crisis. The recommendations include urging doctors to more regularly ask whether patients have guns in their home and to counsel patients on gun safety.

I guess this sent the NRA into a tizzy and they felt a need to warn doctors they were driving “out of their lane” when they discussed gun control.  These doctors are fired up and it’s become a mini uproar with doctors responding on the NRA twitter feed with personal stories and the trending hashtag #This IS our lane.” 

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The powerful NRA lobby gives multiple millions of dollars to Republicans. Texas gets more than their share of those dollars. Our two Texas senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn both have A+ ratings from the NRA. The only Texas politician who recieved more NRA money in Texas than Cruz was Congressman Pete Sessions, who lost in the mid-terms. So now Ted is #1. Cornyn is #3. As long as the Senate has a Republican majority, there is no chance of even minor gun reform legislation being passed.

In 2013 a bi-partisan bill called the Toomey-Manchin Amendment didn’t pass in the Senate. The sponsors, Pat Toomey (R) and Joe Manchin (D) both strongly support the 2nd Amendment, open-carry and the sale of high-capacity magazines. Both had A ratings from the NRA, but after the two sponsored this very limited gun control legislation, the NRA reduced Toomey’s rating to a C and Manchin’s to a D. Bad boys! Take THAT! 

The Toomey-Manchin bill calls for the most minor of reforms: (barely) stronger background checks, longer waiting periods, prevention of gun sales to those on terrorist and no-fly watch lists — and funding to support studies on mental health and school safety. Even these small reforms couldn’t pass Senate approval. In 2015, and again in 2018 (after Parkland shootings), Mitch McConnell wouldn’t even allow the damn bill to come to the floor for a vote. Shameful.

Four of the biggest mass shootings in 5 decades happened in 2018. The recent shootings in Thousand Oaks, CA marked the 307th mass shootings in 311 days. Shootings of 4 people or less (not counting the shooter) aren’t even tallied in these stats. And it doesn’t count the injured, some left paralyzed or with brain injuries. Can you imagine? And the year isn’t even over. Who doubts there will be several other mass shootings before the end of the year? Who doubts it will be even worse in 2019? Do these shootings even surprise us anymore?

I am a proud Independent — have never in my life considered myself a Democrat or Republican, and until the 2018 mid-terms I have the voting record to support that. But this is a fact: the only possible way to get any kind of sensible federal gun legislation passed is to vote more Democrats into the Senate. Cruz is there for another 6 years, so not much can be done about him. He is free to shut down the government, arrogantly pontificate and lecture to anyone who will listen, send his “thoughts and prayers” to gun violence victims – and of course, tell Trump how pretty he is. But John Cornyn is up for re-election in 2020 and something CAN be done about that! A vote for Cornyn (or any Republican at this stage) is a vote for the NRA. If you care about ever seeing any kind of limited gun controls in our lifetime, you will vote for the Democrat next time you have a chance (even if the candidate supports things you don’t agree with).