October 3, 2018

My NHMS presidency is soon to come to a close. In this blog post, I have a couple of comments on some of the issues I have raised in previous blog posts on gun violence and immigration issues.

Today is the first anniversary of the Las Vegas massacre. That shooting was the worst mass shooting ever by a civilian anywhere in the entire world. The shooter, Stephen Paddock, 64, planned and executed a plot that killed 58 innocent people and injured more than 500 attending a country music festival some 30 plus floors below his hotel room. He used several semi-automatic rifles fitted with bump stocks to wreak unimaginable havoc to the innocent crowds of people attending that festival. We still have no idea why he was motivated to do what he did. 

Most people had no idea about what bump stocks were until the Las Vegas shooting. Bump stocks effectively function by making semi-automatic rifles into fully automatic rifles, but somehow these devices were allowed on the market and heavily promoted. New Hampshire legislators tried to outlaw bump stocks in the last legislative session but that legislation was defeated. Even President Trump has talked of banning bump stocks but the effort is in limbo.

In the ensuing year since the Las Vegas shooting, we have experienced many other mass shootings in the U.S. The most horrific: twenty-seven killed in a church in Sutherland Springs Texas, seventeen killed at Marjorie Stoneham High School in Parkland, Florida and seventeen killed at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas.

The effort to push for reasonable gun control laws has been so admirably led since the massacre at Parkland by students at Parkland High and students throughout the U.S. It does appear that gun violence has finally become an issue of major importance to the electorate. Hopefully, the momentum for gun control will lead to positive changes by new legislators elected both nationally and locally on November 6, with a firm commitment to make such changes.

I will be presenting an in-depth review of the issues of gun violence in my presentation “The Impact of Firearms on Public Health” at the NHMS Annual Scientific Conference on November 9-11 at the Wentworth by the Sea Hotel and Spa.  I hope to see many of you there.

The stories of immigration continue to be so heartbreaking. Even though the uproar by so many led to the horrible policy of “Zero Tolerance” being stopped by President Trump in June, many hundreds of children are still separated from their families. Indeed, we have learned that the documentation of where their parents are located is unknown because the government never instituted a system to accurately track the parents and children. Many parents were deported without their children. There are also thousands of children and adolescents who immigrated by themselves, and are being kept in large camps (detention) without schooling or basic social needs being met. They came to our country seeking freedom and safety, but they found a prison environment instead. The backstory is that many or most of these kids immigrated to connect with relatives in the U.S., but those relatives hesitate to come forward for fear that they might be deported.

This current immigration policy is such a travesty of human rights, yet it is a story that continues mostly under the radar. We are a country of immigrants, yet as a country we have trampled our heritage, forgotten who we are and from where we came.

As always, I would appreciate your comments and ideas on this and other issues affecting medicine and the care and compassion that our society has for its citizens. I can be reached at lenkorn.md@gmail.com.

Regards,

Len Korn, MD
NHMS President