US doctors decry 'political blackmail' by gun lobby

by Kerry Sheridan

A leading US medical journal on Wednesday hit out at the powerful American gun lobby for opposing the nomination for the post of top doctor, calling it a new form of "political blackmail."

At issue is the nomination to the post of of a Harvard medical school physician named Vivek Murthy, whose parents were born in India.

Murthy "has lived the American dream," said the editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine, noting his role in expanding HIV education, broadening access to healthcare and fighting childhood obesity.

His nomination awaits a vote in the US Senate, but that vote may be postponed or his candidacy withdrawn, amid reports that as many as 10 Senate Democrats would vote against him, enough to keep him out of the post.

The National Rifle Association has sent letters to lawmakers and to members over the past two months, urging them to oppose Murthy based on his views on guns.

"Dr. Murthy's record of political activism in support of radical gun control measures raises significant concerns about his ability to objectively examine issues pertinent to America's 100 million firearm owners," said one NRA letter to lawmakers, sent to AFP by the NRA press office.

A separate email alert to NRA members described Murthy as someone who agrees with President Barack Obama's "radical anti-gun agenda" and who has "advocated on many occasions for the banning of lawfully owned firearms."

"It's clear that Dr. Murthy would be a prescription for disaster for America's law-abiding gun owners," the email said, urging NRA members to contact their senators to express their opposition.

The editors of the New England Journal of Medicine said Murthy has stood for "reasonable and mainstream forms of gun regulation, including an assault weapons ban, a limit on ammunition sales, and required safety training."

These views are "unsurprising" given the more than 30,000 firearm deaths in the United States each year, the editorial said.

It also pointed out that Murthy has said that if confirmed, his principal focus would be on preventing obesity in America.

"This is the first time that the NRA has flexed its political muscle over the appointment of a surgeon general," the editors wrote.

"By obstructing the president's nomination of Vivek Murthy as surgeon general, the NRA is taking its single-issue political blackmail to a new level."

The authors concluded by calling on US senators to confront the NRA and vote according to their conscience.

"Dr. Murthy is an accomplished physician, policymaker, leader and entrepreneur. He deserves the president's continued backing and should be confirmed."

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User comments

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ab3a
4.2 / 5 (5) May 07, 2014
The Bill of Rights exists because it was deemed a reasonable basis for building a better society --not because it is safe or medically appropriate. Any candidate for Surgeon General has to realize that the right to bear arms is not negotiable by virtue of opinion by a medical expert.

I'm sorry, I think the NRA has a point here. This is a bald-faced political hack to remove the right to self defense based upon some misguided view of what "safe" is.

What next? Shall we limit free speech because it might conflict with the opinion of the surgeon general and thus possibly mislead the public for proper medical advice?
RobPaulG
3.7 / 5 (3) May 07, 2014
Doctors should worry about the 100,000 yearly deaths from medical error that they can do something about rather than a few thousand deaths from guns.
Sinister1812
not rated yet May 07, 2014
Rednecks will say anything to promote an agenda.
freethinking
1 / 5 (1) May 08, 2014
Yea protesting a radical agenda driven doctor is political blackmail...... since it is Obama who is nominating this person, it is also racist.

Obama should be able to post any radical socialist to any post without objection. Any objection is racist, homophobic, anti-woman, anti-child, etc. etc.....

Truth matters not when it comes to Obama...
fortranfixer
1 / 5 (1) May 08, 2014
Whether you are pro or anti-gun this situation was brought about by the expansion of public health into deaths caused by human violence. The medical/health profession moved into gun politics and now want a candidate's position on gun politics to not be relevant. That is naive.
rhugh1066
1 / 5 (1) May 08, 2014
I wonder if Dr. Murthy lives in a gated community, perhaps with armed security. Most of the rest of us do not.
jmlvu
1 / 5 (1) May 11, 2014
The surgeon general deals with allot more important issues then gun politics. I support the right to bear arms but the nut jobs at the NRA really piss me off.
sirchick
5 / 5 (1) May 11, 2014
Still don't get American's need for guns. The thought of someone having a gun in Europe never even comes in to people's thoughts. Just ain't the type of people to want anyone to hold weapons like that.

Heck not even the UK police carry anything more than tasers. Its nice to know we simply don't require it in the first place.
Sinister1812
not rated yet May 11, 2014
Still don't get American's need for guns. The thought of someone having a gun in Europe never even comes in to people's thoughts. Just ain't the type of people to want anyone to hold weapons like that.

Heck not even the UK police carry anything more than tasers. Its nice to know we simply don't require it in the first place.


Exactly, it's the same in Australia. And we don't have as many mass shootings. Even automatic firearms are legal in the US. It doesn't make sense.
kochevnik
1 / 5 (1) May 12, 2014
Heck not even the UK police carry anything more than tasers. Its nice to know we simply don't require it in the first place.
Is that why you have a level of street violence in London that makes Chicago look like paradise?
Lex Talonis
5 / 5 (1) May 12, 2014
Merkins - Gad Dammit - Guns, Guns, Guns......

Little Britain USA: America's Love for Guns

https://www.youtu...gOvJVol8

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