Time to end the Dickey Amendment — for good!

Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC
Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC

After the San Bernardino shootings late last year, I wrote a blog about the “The ‘Icky' Dickey Amendment.” It detailed the measure that halted all research on gun safety and violence by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Coincidentally, hours before that shooting, physician groups met in Washington with a petition calling to end the amendment.

Physicians again responded to gun violence in a meaningful way on Monday, hours after the Orlando massacre. The American Academy of Family Physicians joined with the American Medical Association's Minority Affairs Section and its Young Physicians Section, along with several other physician groups, to demand (via a late resolution presented to the AMA House of Delegates) that Congress lift its ban on funding gun violence research by the CDC.

The resolution read, in part, "Resolved, that our AMA immediately make a public statement that gun violence represents a public health crisis which requires a comprehensive public health response and solution, and be it further resolved that our AMA actively lobby Congress to lift the gun violence research ban.”

I am still sick of all the platitudes, especially that any research on gun violence and gun safety infringes on the Second Amendment. To those that think that, READ the amendment and the decisions of the Supreme Court!

“A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.” The Supreme Court seems to affirm individual protection but only in the context of the maintenance of a militia or other such public force.

Somehow, it is taboo to discuss gun safety research, so I cannot fathom why in this United States we are even contemplating a discussion of banning citizens based on their religion. That is a clear violation of the First Amendment, which states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …”

This is way too reminiscent of Nazi Germany, and a slap in the face of those who have fought, and do fight, for our freedoms. Just who gets to decide what minorities or religions pose a threat? Scares the pooh out of me, honestly.

Yet the second you enter into a discussion on gun safety and prevention of gun violence, it becomes a Second Amendment issue instead of a population health issue. But this is a health issue.

Health, you may ask? In Sunday morning's Orlando shooting there were not enough emergency transport vehicles to handle the victims.  Volunteers loaded the wounded in cars. Emergency rooms aren't equipped to handle mass shootings on scales like this.

Doctors and nurses are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder caring for these victims. Do we change our entire healthcare response system rather than have a discussion on research?

And yet people want to say that any discussion such as I am having is a violation of their rights. As a healthcare provider, I am talking about population health here. That is my focus. And as far as long-term care, we get many young adults for the rest of their lives who have been victims of gun violence.

So did a man with a history of domestic violence and on an FBI watch list, or a couple on a “no fly” list, or three people with mental health diagnoses all have a right to purchase without any restrictions AR-15 semi-automatic rifles? People who in my opinion, should never have been allowed access to any weapon, yet alone one with the distinction of being the weapon of choice for the last five mass slaughters in the U.S.

I ask this because maybe solid research will bring us answers. I, of course, while having opinions, am not an authority on the subject. But research has landed us many answers that have led to safer use of things that could bring about death if not used properly, such as automobile safety.

So why do some fear that research on gun safety and violence is a violation of their rights? I don't agree with the second amendment arguments. I do believe there are more of us who believe that we have a right to understanding the “why” behind the violence. Perhaps access is the issue. But we'll never know unless we study and understand.

So if you agree that research should be allowed, write to your local congressman and demand an end to the Dickey Amendment. Support the physicians behind the AMA resolution. When “We the people” stand together, anything can be accomplished.

Just keeping it real,

Nurse Jackie

The Real Nurse Jackie is written by Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC, a 2012 APEX Award of Excellence winner for Blog Writing. Vance is a real life long-term care nurse. A nationally respected nurse educator and past national LTC Nurse Administrator of the Year, she also is an accomplished stand-up comedienne. She has not starred in her own national television series — yet. The opinions supplied here are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her employer or her professional affiliates.

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The Real Nurse Jackie

The Real Nurse Jackie is written by Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC, a 2012 APEX Award of Excellence winner for Blog Writing. Vance is a real life long-term care nurse. A nationally respected nurse educator and past national LTC Nurse Administrator of the Year, she also is an accomplished stand-up comedienne. The opinions supplied here are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her employer or her professional affiliates.

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