The Bully Pulpit and the Bully: the US Surgeon General Nominee vs the NRA

Gun manufacturers can’t be sued. Physicians can’t get grants from the National Institute of Health to research gun shot injuries. And now public health leaders can’t call gun violence a public health problem, for fear of being shut out of public health leadership opportunities.
(Click here for a NY Times article on National Rifle Association opposition to the Surgeon General nominee, and here for a NY Times Op/Ed.)

The NRA’s moneyed opposition to the nomination of Dr. Vivek Murthy to Surgeon General is deeply troubling. Like other public health experts moved by the Sandy Hook massacre, Dr. Murthy campaigned to implement common sense laws to curb gun violence. At the Surgeon General nomination hearing, he explicitly promised not to use the office as a “bully pulpit” on gun violence, instead listing obesity as his number one concern. Still, the NRA threatens to withdraw support and actively campaign in the mid-term elections against any Senator who supports Dr. Murthy’s nomination. If the NRA succeeds in torpedoing the candidacy of an outstanding nominee for Surgeon General for his stand on a single public health issue, they effectively tell future public health leaders to remain mum on this important public health topic.

Protecting gun manufacturers. Limiting data on harm. Dictating the national public health agenda. The gun lobby demonstrates the distorting influence of special interest and corporate money on national politics and policies. The NRA and their bullying use of campaign contributions is hurting all the Americans whose lives have been and will be destroyed in our national epidemic of gun violence.

Dr. Vivek Murthy, public health advocate

Dr. Vivek Murthy, public health advocate

2 thoughts on “The Bully Pulpit and the Bully: the US Surgeon General Nominee vs the NRA

  1. Chicago has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country and there is a blood bath every weekend more restrictive laws are not the answer for gun violence.

    • I agree that gun laws *alone* are not the answer for gun violence. Jobs, for example, would help prevent bored broke teens from getting into trouble in hot Chicago summers. Economic development and life opportunities to change the epidemic cycles of violence and hopelessness that are plaguing our inner cities. Still, I believe common sense laws to decrease gun violence–like universal background checks– are part of the solution.

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