Once reluctant, growing number of doctors speaking out against gun violence

Crime scene tape in a building with blurred forensic team in background
More and more doctors are adding their voices to the debate over gun control. (Getty/Prathaan)

It’s not just students taking a public stand on gun violence. Doctors, including those who have treated the victims, have added their voices to the debate over gun control.

One of the latest is Andre Campbell, a doctor at San Francisco General Hospital who treated the three wounded victims from the shooting at YouTube’s San Bruno campus earlier this month, according to SFGate.

“This is a terrible day in the United States, when once again we have a multiple-casualty situation,” Campbell, a doctor at San Francisco General for 23 years, told a group of reporters. “You’d think after we’ve seen Las Vegas, Parkland, the Pulse nightclub shooting, that we would see an end to this. But we have not.”

While in the past some doctors have been reluctant to get in the middle of the political debate over guns, David Spain, M.D., chief of trauma surgery at Stanford Health Care, told the newspaper that more and more physicians are taking a public stand. “We are starting to voice our outrage. And we’re still not as vocal as we should be,” he said.

Doctors offer a unique perspective. Such was the case of Florida radiologist Heather Sher, M.D., who described the damage from high-velocity assault weapons in an essay in the Atlantic. She said she had seen firsthand the gunshot wounds after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland and her description immediately became part of the gun violence debate.

Following that school shooting, six prominent physician groups called on President Donald Trump and Congress to take comprehensive action to help end gun violence.

Social media has also allowed doctors to have a voice. When Campbell spoke out after the YouTube shooting, emergency department doctors across the country echoed his outrage.


Doctors and healthcare professionals also took to social media criticizing former Senator Rick Santorum after he suggested that student activists should learn CPR instead of marching for stricter gun control laws, according to The Hill.

Doctors, in fact, have sought ways to address gun violence for a long time. In 2016, the American Medical Association adopted a policy labeling gun violence a “public health crisis” in the United States and resolved to lobby Congress to overturn legislation prohibiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from conducting research on gun violence.