Today is National Gun Violence Awareness Day. There’s a sad irony here, as the recent tragedies in Buffalo, Texas, and now Oklahoma make it difficult for any of us to not already be keenly aware of this issue.
And it falls just one day after we lost one of our own, Dr. Stephanie Husen, DO, who was ABIM board certified in Internal Medicine and Sports Medicine. Dr. Husen was killed in her office while serving patients, by a gunman who was upset his back pain continued after a recent surgery and was looking for his doctor who worked nearby. That physician, an orthopedist, was also killed.
As the numbing cascade of mass shootings in the U.S. continues, we stand united in loss and pain. There have been 231 mass shootings in the country in 2022 – and not one week has passed without four mass shootings occurring (defined as incidents where at least four people are injured or killed, not including the shooter). Sit with that for a moment – 231 mass shootings in six months – so many that most of us only hear about a handful of them. They have taken place at our schools, supermarkets, workplaces and now, once again, at a medical center where patients were being cared for.
Every death is a tragedy, a loss to an entire network and community of people. When we are not directly connected to that particular community, we can try to distance ourselves from the tragedy, to be horrified and saddened by the loss of life while being grateful, somehow, that it hasn’t touched us personally. And yet, the widening spiral of gun violence has hit so many communities and networks that it reminds us we are all part of the broader community being devastated by this. We are a country that is perpetually in mourning over tragedies inflicted by gun violence.
I’m proud to be an internist, and proud of the leadership displayed by the American College of Physicians in proclaiming “This Is Our Lane.” As a society, we have figured out how to dramatically increase automobile safety without banning cars; surely we can learn from that experience and use our collective research and policy capacity as a society to reduce the death toll from guns.
I grieve for the loss of Dr. Husen, for her family, her patients, and her community. And it reminds me of the deeply personal toll this is taking across the country. I hope we can be motivated to take whatever steps we can, individually and collectively, to protect children, to protect each other, and to make our society safer.