In Gun Debate, Physicians Edge Closer to Front Lines
"We should not be prevented from discussing anything with patients about their health. So that's the overarching concern even beyond the gun issue."
Bernard Wollschlaeger, MD, FAAFP, a family practice physician in Miami who is among the group of physicians who successfully sued to halt the Florida law, has counseled patients about gun use.
"We need a collective effort of our entire society. I do not see politicians as catalysts of change," Wollschlaeger told me after the Connecticut shootings. "We can't rely on politicians to resolve this problem. It's a collective effort. For a mentally unstable person, to give him a weapon of war, it is crazy. These are weapons intended to hunt, not weapons to be used for self-defense. These weapons should be in the hands of law-abiding citizens. For what purpose could it be? Armageddon? It's insane."
The AMA is expected to discuss the shootings soon. Lazarus says in the interview that education is needed among "public and policy makers and there is also a need for more (mental health) services" including more specialists in mental illness care.
In his blog, Lazarus health leaders must "work together as a medical community and [with] the public to make evidence-based interventions when available, and continue public discussions on some of the important tradeoffs between individual rights and protection of the public. We must not keep blaming ‘the system.'"
When will the gun control debate return to a subterranean slumber as it often does, waiting for the next tragedy to wake it up? It won't go back underground, at least, not if some physicians have their way.
Joe Cantlupe is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media Online.
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