At age 17, Joseph Sakran was shot in the throat after a high school football game — a life-threatening injury that set him on the path to becoming a doctor. Now a trauma surgeon who fights to save shooting victims on the operating table, Sakran says gun violence in America is a health crisis that medical professionals can and should help address. He has become the public face of a campaign to unite doctors, nurses and others who treat gun violence victims in an effort to reduce it, pushing back against the National Rifle Association (NRA) lobby’s assertion that the issue is none of their concern. “When you look at firearm-related violence… there’s no question that it is a public health crisis that we are facing in this country,” Sakran said at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, where he is director of emergency general surgery. The 41-year-old doctor said that firearms deaths should be approached like other major threats to health, such as smoking and obesity. “It falls under the injury prevention piece that we as clinicians and as scientists really consider as… part of our responsibility,” he said. He has become the public face of a campaign to unite doctors, nurses and others who treat gun violence victims in an effort to reduce it, pushing back against the NRA lobby’s assertion that the issue is none of their concern For Sakran — who said he has talked with “hundreds if not thousands” of gun owners, finding that “we actually have a lot more in common than we have that divides us” — the issue is not banning firearms. “In the ’60s and ’70s, when people were dying from motor vehicle crashes, we didn’t get rid of cars. We figured out, ‘How do we make cars safer?'” ‘This Is Our Lane’ As someone who both survived a gunshot wound and treats them, Sakran was “a little bit incensed” when the NRA took aim at the involvement of doctors in the debate over gun violence. Firearms killed nearly 40,000 people in the US in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And despite the scale of the problem, efforts to address it legislatively have long been largely deadlocked at the federal level. “Someone should tell self-important anti-gun doctors to stay in their lane,” the NRA tweeted in November, calling out a particular medical journal for publishing what it deemed to be too many articles backing gun control. “I think there was a significant amount of outrage from the medical community — and not just non-gun owners but also gun owners — for a group to say that we are not part of the solution,” Sakran said. Published in Daily Times, January 18th 2019.