Danielle Lee: Good evening, Jacksonville, and happy Saturday. I’m Danielle Lee, and welcome to the Conversation with Dr. Ali Kasraeian. As always, you too can join the Conversation. Give us a call 340-1045. Dr. Ali, how are you today?
Dr. Kasraeian: I am good. How are you?
Danielle Lee: I am doing well. We have a full studio today.
Dr. Kasraeian: We have a full house today and for good reason. We are going to talk about an incredibly important topic today that we hope you come away from it with a way to keep our community and our country a bit safer. Today, we’re gonna talk about firearm safety, and the idea that our firearm deaths in America over the recent and long past has been a big source of controversy and a big source of injury and death in our country. Today, we’re gonna look at it from a physician’s perspective and a medical perspective and really delve into the data.
One thing I want to give as a disclaimer to this, this is not a discussion about the Second Amendment today, and as it will be reiterated during this discussion, you’ll see where we’re gonna delve into the data we have.
In studio with us, Dr. Brian Yorkgitis, who’s a friend to the Conversation, one of the smartest guys I know who’s a trauma surgeon, a critical care specialist, essentially a trauma surgeon who deals with this issue on a day-to-day basis, writes on this prolifically and speaks on it prolifically, and he lives in this space. The ramifications of gun-related injuries and gun-related deaths are really his wheelhouse, and so to discuss what happens before and after are really an important part of his day-to-day activities.
Prevention is really something that is important to his line of work, and prevention is actually something that we’ve spoken to you guys about here on the Conversation with the Stop the Bleed program, which is a profoundly important program that the American College of Surgeons has been very, very prolific about initiating … a lot of the work from that started after the Sandy Hook incident, inspired a group of surgeons and non-surgeons to get together in Connecticut in the thing called the Connecticut Convention where they thought if we could get people to survive the initial incident and get to the hospital quicker, potentially, they could survive things like gun-related injury.
Brian, thanks for joining us.
Yorkgitus: Ali, thanks so much for having me on the show again, and I look forward to our discussion today.
Dr. Kasraeian: And also in studio is Dr. Sunil Joshi, a former gator. We went to medical school together. I think he was a few years older than I was.
Sunil Joshi: About three.
Dr. Kasraeian: Although, he looks younger. And he is currently the Duval County Medical Society Foundation president, and one thing that’s very exciting about what is coming up in the upcoming few weeks is the Future of Healthcare Conference that the Duval County Medical Society’s putting on that will be here in town on May 21st and 22nd, and this is one of the topics that will be discussed at that conference.
Sunil Joshi: Absolutely, and thanks for having me here, Ali. It’s an important topic not just because of what’s happened in the last year here in Florida but for us generations going forward.
Dr. Kasraeian: The one thing that’s important for us to talk about, and the one thing that … besides all of the things that have been going on over the recent few years, it seems like we talk about mass casualty shootings and things of that nature over and over, and really the most recent events of last Valentine’s Day in Parkland, Florida, which really brought this to the forefront when people seemed to have enough of these mass casualty events that happen, but really mass casualty shootings are a small, small subset of a firearm-related injuries and deaths that occur on an annual basis.
One thing that I wanted to set as a backdrop for our discussion and begin our discussion from that. One thing that happened in 1996, there was a … following the 1996 Dickey Amendment, this was an amendment that banned CDC funding for research into gun control advocacy. One thing that’s really important, and I’m really interested to see what your thoughts are, especially yours Brian because you do a lot of research in this line of work, following this ban, gun violence-related publications decreased by 64 percent between the years of 1998 and 2012. This is really important.
Now, according to a … this was data that came out of study that was recently published in the The Annals of Surgery in September of 2017. The study was that side of this, Firearm Deaths in America: Can We Learn From 462,000 Lives Lost?, which was side of this study. This particular study looked at over a 15-year period between 1998 and 2012 to see if a state had more restrictive gun control laws versus less restrictive gun control laws, does it make a difference in terms of the amount of injuries and deaths related to guns? I mean, it’s no surprise to anyone, if people had less access or they were more restricted in terms of access to guns, there were less injury and death related to guns.
From this as a trauma surgeon, I would assume that you’re not too surprised with that. Taking that information and the fact that there’s less research to look at the why’s and the details related to that, what are your thoughts in terms of the fact that there’s data that’s consistently showing that and then your inability to research the details related to information with that, and we’re constantly criticizing the United States of having significantly higher gun ownership, and then significantly higher gun-related injuries and deaths, and significantly higher numbers of mass casualties in our country compared to the rest of the world.
Yorkgitus: As you name those staggering statistics, the premise of any physician is based off of science and evidence, and unfortunately, with the restriction on funding for research, it’s really hampered our efforts to really drill down. Again, not a gun ownership conversation about the Second Amendment. This is about science, and where can we best put our resources, and what programs can we put in place to prevent those deaths or those injuries that cost America $220 billion a year? In Florida alone, firearm injuries cost the taxpayers $5 billion. If it was any other topic in the State of Florida, legislature would be all over this. A $5 billion savings to the taxpayers? Incredible. Incredible. We really need to work and focus on where our interventions need to happen, and we can’t do that without science.
The second thing that you mentioned was about restrictive gun laws. Well, we know that states, according to that paper that was very well done, that have restrictive gun laws have decreased. It’s an access issue just like speeding if speeding … we know that the National Highway Transportation Safety Bill, when they do statistics, why is the speed limit set at 65 and some are at 70? The higher it goes, the more likely of injury and death.
The interesting thing is one particular law when we talk about restrictive state laws, is the waiting period, and that’s been studied on, waiting periods, and especially in suicide. You can think if you’re having some difficulties and can easily access a firearm, you can complete the task of suicide, and if we just put a waiting law for guns, not restricting anyone’s ownerships rights, just talking about a waiting period. One study show 750 homicides would be reduced and 910 suicides could be reduced. We’re talking about 1500 lives a year just by putting a small waiting period on, not restricting anybody, just putting a waiting period there.
Sunil Joshi: Is that here in Florida?
Yorkgitus: That’s national. Yeah.
Sunil Joshi: National.
Dr. Kasraeian: And if you think about that, we talked about in the 15-year study, more than 462,000 firearm-related deaths in the United States, the majority of those deaths were suicides. If you take that one small step, again, taking the politics out of it, this makes no comment on the Second Amendment, and you take that one step, you can potentially make a significant impact just applying science and allowing a bit of research to be applied to the practical application of gun control.
Yorkgitus: And one thing that Florida’s looking at, and it’s gaining popularity, it’s called a Red Flag law in which the court is able to confiscate a gun for a patient at very high risk, so maybe a patient that might be em Baker Acted that may have weapons lawfully, that they can secure them until the patient or the person is better, or someone that may be in a very difficult situation in life that others feel a very imminent threat there.
The second thing is, as far as other states’ efforts, some states, you can take your weapon, if you feel unsafe, if you feel like you may hurt yourself or others, you can take your weapon to a certified gun shop and say hold my weapon. I don’t feel safe right now, or someone in my house … maybe you have a child that’s …