Schneider: Out of my lane

As the National Rifle Assocation tries to stifle discussion of gun policy by medical experts, no one should "stay in their lane."

Ellen Schneider

Last week, the National Rifle Association released a distasteful – to say the least – tweet aimed at doctors. The tweet stated, “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.”

Since being tweeted on Nov. 7, doctors from all across the nation have started a hashtag in response: #ThisIsOurLane. The hashtag has brought many doctor’s tragic experiences with gun violence to the forefront of public consciousness. As emergency responders and medical personnel are the only ones who are repeatedly exposed to the trauma, carnage and endless string of mourning families, they unequivocally have the right to speak their minds on the issue that steals their patients’ lives.

In fact, I really can’t think of a better set of professionals to be advocates, or at the very least share their experiences, especially when we take the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s lack of funding for gun research into consideration. The ban came to realization after the CDC released a study in the early 1990s that contradicted the NRA’s premise of gun advocacy: that having a gun in the home protects the family. It does not.

The NRA criticized the use of taxpayer dollars on research that advocated for gun control and the Dickey Amendment was passed in 1996, which cut funding and ended the CDC’s study of gun violence. This resulted in no effort to assess gun violence as a public health issue in the last 22 years, despite the death toll toppling 600,000. Disliking research results is not a reason to stop conducting that research.

Furthermore, it is blasphemous that the NRA is not only working to disallow the country to learn about a problem that takes lives on a daily basis, but it is also trying to stifle discussion. By criticizing doctors for speaking their minds, they are actively trying to suppress productive deliberations that are relevant to bettering communities. Perhaps the only amendment they’re concerned with is the Second.

Sure, doctors may not be experts in firearms, but they surely have pertinent experiences with the effects of them. The argument that somehow, only experts in any given field have a right to be active members in discussion is not only ridiculous, but also wholly undemocratic. Civil debates are a central part of your democracy and exiling entire peoples from public discourse due to their profession or lack of expertise is outrageous.

I don’t know why our modern society has a tendency to disparage those who speak out on issues that are important to them simply because they are not specialists in said issue. Society continues to berate athletes who kneel for the national anthem, celebrities who discuss politics and comedians who discuss legislation. Sticking to what you know best isn’t what’s best for any of us.

This tweet not only disrespects an entire profession with individuals who vigorously try to save the lives that are stolen by gun violence, it perpetuates social norms that suffocate discussion and stifle debate. Commenting “stay in your lane” is absurd. Your opinions are not invalidated because of your profession, gender or ethnicity. Let’s discuss, let’s deliberate and let’s make a change.