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‘There isn’t a single day of work without at least one patient touched by gun-related trauma’

These tragedies are preventable. I am asking all readers to do something.

REUTERS/Gaelen Morse

To whom it may concern (which better be everyone): My son is parading around the living room with his rocketship backpack full of backhoes and firetrucks. “I’m going to school!” he beams proudly.

He is supposed to start this fall. A year ago I pictured him at his little desk, with his little cubby, telling his new friends about his superpowers.

I worried about how he would adjust, from having to share to taking turns, or whether he would lose his blankie if he brought it to class.

Now I picture…. I cannot even say it. Does it not seem wrong to describe the scene of the mass murder in Uvalde? To have already “moved on” from the shooting in Buffalo? How did I manage to bury the memory of Sandy Hook?

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But now that my baby is getting ready to start school, I picture his little body lying on that floor. My irreplaceable, perfect, delicate, brilliant and unique baby.

Every child lost in every one of these shootings was equally irreplaceable, perfect, delicate, brilliant and unique. Every single one of these losses was an unspeakable tragedy that should not have happened. That we have allowed to happen.

I am a medical doctor who works in the hospital, the clinic and the emergency department. I see the things you hear about on the news, and the innumerable things you do not see:

  • Teenagers in wheelchairs because of gunshot injuries.
  • Young adults in long-term care because of gunshot injuries.
  • Previously healthy people now in need of colostomy bags because of gunshot injuries.
  • Grandparents with deep depression because of the babies and grandbabies that have died or were never the same because of gunshot injuries.
  • So many deaths by suicide that would not have happened without such a deadly and readily available method.

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There isn’t a single day of work without at least one patient touched by gun-related trauma. These tragedies are  preventable.

I am writing this piece to ask all readers to do something.

We must be reasonable enough to allow evidence to guide us to appropriate and effective regulation. Compassionate enough to bear witness to the suffering around us without becoming numb or hardened. Clear-eyed enough to see through the propaganda and greed of the gun lobby and acknowledge that change is both needed and possible. Be brave enough to act.

Laura McKenzie Lara
Laura McKenzie Lara
You can vote out politicians who get funding from the gun lobby. You can voice your support for universal background checks, red flag laws and banning assault weapons.

These laws have no impact on your hunting rifles, the guns you can test out at the range or access to firearms for those who have been vetted. Even if they did affect these things, are regular elementary school massacres an acceptable alternative?

Earn the breaths you take by caring about the people who do not have the chance to take any more.

Laura McKenzie Lara is a family medicine doctor who works in Minneapolis.