Should Children's Hospital Colorado take a position on gun control?
Jim Shmerling, DHA, FACHE, President and CEO of Children's Hospital Colorado
Most of my previous blogs have been intended to share my thoughts and opinions regarding health care policy and/or events that impact children. This edition will be a little different. I am soliciting your thoughts and opinions rather than sharing my own.
The Aurora Theatre shootings have prompted a number of debates ranging from the paucity of mental health services to gun control. The tragic and inexplicable violence that occurred recently will have implications for months and even years to come. Over the last week, a number of Hospital and Medical staff have stopped me to ask whether or not the Hospital will finally take a strong position supporting gun control. After all, they argue, we have a vibrant and robust Advocacy agenda so now of all times shouldn't gun control be on it?
I received an email from Dr. Jeanne E. Dise-Lewis, Professor, Rehabilitation Medicine and Psychiatry, who very articulately asks "What is "our mission?" And how are we "activating" it? ….As the adults, we have a responsibility to provide a better psychological life, a saner society, and reclaim the true meaning of American freedom for our children. As leaders in the community and as medical professionals, I believe we have a responsibility to get active about assault weapon control". Dr. Dise-Lewis' question quite articulately expresses this sense of duty that I have heard from many of you.
However, having said that, others have argued that it is not the gun that kills, but rather the person pulling its trigger. It is a constitutional right to own a gun. Maybe if people who felt prolonged periods of despair and alienation people had had better access to mental health care service such atrocities could be avoided.
Our Children's Hospital Advocacy Initiative (CHAI) conducts an annual child health needs assessment that informs our Advocacy priorities. It is centered around the health and wellness of children. We are committed to injury prevention programming that obviates the need for hospitalization. Those efforts include education and community outreach that covers gun safety and gun use.
So, my friends, my question to you is: Is that enough or should we include a more aggressive gun control advocacy position? One method of informing our Advocacy agenda is feedback from multiple sources, including you. I am asking that you respond to this blog with your thoughts and suggestions. As always, I appreciate the collective genius of our staff and look forward to hearing back from you. Please contact me with your thoughts and comments.
Response from a reader:
From Stephanie Marquez
I read your article about "gun control".
I live in Southern Colorado where almost every household has multiple guns. We use guns to hunt and provide for our family. We don't run around and shoot people. Law abiding citizens obtain their guns legally for sport and self defense. People with ill intentions will get guns by many other means then legally therefore gun control will only hurt the innocent.
In most of the cases, like the Aurora Theater shooting, there was a huge red flag prior to the incident. There were multiple individuals that could foresee a problem yet this guy had the privacy rights to protect him. I think thats where the law needs to change, it has nothing to do with gun control. Lets get real and talk about "people control". People have no self control these days because of all the laws that stop the discipline of children, they dont grow up knowing right from wrong or even having a thought process to figure it out. Young adults run on emotions and nothing more. Teen suicide proves that.
I think everyone is side tracked with "gun control" and are wasting their time not dealing with the real issues. Criminals will always have their weapons of choice.