President’s Message – Fall 2015

October 2015

Ken Deitz (President)

As nurses and health care professionals, can we all agree that anything which kills 30,000 Americans and injures 70,000 more each year is a serious public health issue? If so, then maybe we can look at gun violence that way. Because those are our annual casualty figures from guns in this country. Personally, I’m not pro-gun, I’m not anti-gun. I’ve never owned a gun. But I’m a nurse. That means when I see any health problem that widespread, I want to find solutions. Practical solutions, based on real data.

Americans often have very personal feelings about guns. When the issue comes up, they often seem to choose sides based on emotional arguments and rigid positions. But I suspect that we as health care professionals bring a unique perspective to this issue and are mostly united in at least two ways. First of all, whenever we hear about another mass shooting, we can’t help but think of all of our experiences with ill, injured and dying patients and their families. Secondly, our approach to our work is evidence-based. We want to attack every health problem with the most effective treatment. Fortunately, there’s more good solid data and more widespread agreement on solutions to gun violence than you’d think when listening to the extreme viewpoints which get the most media attention.

The data clearly shows: more guns = more gun deaths. When countries are compared, or different states in the US, stronger gun prevention laws and lower gun ownership rates mean fewer gun deaths. On the other hand, there’s no good data to support the argument that more guns = greater safety. People with easy access to guns are twice as likely to be homicide victims and three times more likely to commit suicide than people without. In 30 years not a single mass shooting has been stopped by an armed civilian. In an ER shooting, chances are 1 in 5 the gun was taken from the security guard.

Fortunately, many polls show overwhelming support among Americans for some solutions such as universal background checks on gun buyers; and at least majority support for bans on assault weapons and certain kinds of ammo. A large majority favors increased government spending on mental health. Even the NRA has supported some state laws restricting gun purchases based on criteria involving mental illness. I’d guess that most UNAC/UHCP members would support more resources going to mental health care in this country. Overall, I think that we as health professionals and voices trusted by the public can and should contribute our unique perspective to the larger conversation on this issue.

In unity,
Ken Deitz, RN

Previous Messages

President’s Message – July 2015 Jul 2015
President’s Message – May 2015 May 2015
President’s Message – March 2015 Mar 2015
President’s Message – January 2015 Jan 2015
President’s Message – November 2014 Nov 2014
President’s Message – September 2014 Sep 2014
President’s Message – July 2014 Jul 2014
President’s Message – May 2014 May 2014
President’s Message – March 2014 Mar 2014
President’s Message – January 2014 Feb 2014
President’s Message – July 2013 Jul 2013
President’s Message – May 2013 Jun 2013
President’s Message – March 2013 Mar 2013
President’s Message – January 2013 Jan 2013
President’s Message – November 2012 Nov 2012
President’s Message – September 2012 Oct 2012
President’s Message – July 2012 Aug 2012
President’s Message – June 2012 Jun 2012
President’s Message – March 2012 Mar 2012
President’s Message – January 2012 Jan 2012
President’s Message – October 2011 Oct 2011
President’s Message – July 2011 Jul 2011
President’s Message – June 2011 Jun 2011
President’s Message – April 2011 Apr 2011
President’s Message – February 2011 Feb 2011
President’s Message – December 2010 Dec 2010
President’s Message – September 2010 Sep 2010
President’s Message – July 2010 Jul 2010
President’s Message – March 2010 Mar 2010
President’s Message – January 2010 Jan 2010
President’s Message – November 2009 Nov 2009
Testimony at the Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee Meeting Aug 2009
Kathy J. Sackman | Make a Difference Video Aug 2009