Ann Arbor Is The Location Of An Important Event On September 25th. Get There if You Can.

There’s a group of physicians in Michigan who have formed an organization called Physicians for Prevention of Gun Violence (PPGV) which is sponsoring one of the September 25th Concert Across America To End Gun Violence events. Their concert, which will take place in Ann Arbor at the Genesis Center, and will feature performances by the chamber orchestra conducted by Kevin Fitzgerald, as well as solo piano works performed by a member (Emeritus) of the Ann Arbor music faculty, Louis Nagel.

ppgv           Events like the Ann Arbor concert are going to take place all over the country, and while the New York and California concerts are going to get the spotlight (how could they not get the spotlight with the artists who are appearing at both venues?) we shouldn’t overlook the value and importance of the more local efforts like the Ann Arbor gig.  And the reason we shouldn’t ignore such events is because to really build a national movement for anything, you need to get folks involved in the communities where they work and where they live. After all, it’s one thing to walk into a large, public event where you might or might not know anyone at all. It’s quite another to walk into a room and see other people whom you really know, then all of a sudden the event in that room takes on a special and personal meaning for you.

In the interests of full disclosure (I love that phrase) I happen to know several of the physicians who are active in the PPGV group.  The organization got started after the Tucson shooting (of Gabby Giffords) in 2011 and now counts more than 200 members, including clinicians, residents and medical students in all the relevant medical disciplines.  In 2014 the group was featured in a journal  article published by the Michigan Academy of Family Physicians after the statewide group adopted resolutions on gun violence prevention.

Back in 2014, Detroit’s Police Chief James Craig became a poster-boy for the NRA when he called for law-abiding Detroit residents to arm themselves against crime.  Of course this stance also made Craig an immediate resource for the Trump campaign, and he was, along with Dr. Ben Carson (remember him?) conspicuously present during Trump’s recent drop-in tour of the Motor City.  The only problem, of course, is that armed citizens or not, Detroit still has one of the highest murder rates in the United States, and the last time I checked, Detroit is still located in Michigan, which means that the members of the PPGV group have plenty of work to do.

But along with work comes opportunity and when I think about what PPGV has accomplished in such a short time, it reminds me of another group of physicians which started advocating over a public health issue back in 1961.  The group came together in someone’s apartment and formed Physicians for Social Responsibility to advocate about the health risks posed by nuclear testing and, in particular, the spread of Strontium-90 in the water, soil and air.  PSR limped along for a number of years and then, in 1979, decided to give it one last try.  The same week that they sent out what they thought might be their last fundraising appeal, the nuclear reactor at Three Mile Island blew.  Guess what?  In 1985 this group, known now as the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, shared the Nobel Peace Prize.

Am I saying that gun violence is as serious a risk to health as nuclear war?  Well, if you consider that over the last five years alone more than half a million Americans have been killed or seriously injured because of guns is a number that probably surpasses what would be the human toll from the detonation of a good-sized nuclear bomb.  So I applaud the work of Physicians for Prevention of Gun Violence, I know their September 25th concert will be a great success, and I only hope they and groups like them will continue to forge ahead.


2 thoughts on “Ann Arbor Is The Location Of An Important Event On September 25th. Get There if You Can.

  1. I wish we could get as many Moms and Mayors interested in traffic violence. We kill about as many with vehicles as with guns and the annual cost of traffic crashes is similar to that of guns, i.e., is in the hundreds of billions. But the standard retort is “cars are not designed to kill and besides, we need them”. So those deaths are um, justified?

    I harp on this not to deflect from gun violence (I routinely work with New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence), but because as a bicycling advocate and board member of my statewide bicycle advocacy organization and as chair of my county’s transportation advisory board, its my job to worry about such things. For those worried about the arrogance of Gun Nut Nation, the arrogance of motorists, when combining their cell phone, nine over the speed limit, and one for the road mentality with their cars, are statistically just as dangerous. There is even a National Motorist Association that fights common sense traffic laws. Look it up.

    If anyone reading this has ever been hit by a car, which when misused, is just another high energy projectile that can cause massive tissue damage, permanent injury, mental trauma, and death, you don’t have to be convinced. I sure don’t. I lost a year of grad school and had to change my Ph.D. project after I was run down by a guy in a VW making a dash for an opening in one of those mile long gas lines on Long Island in 1979. Traumatic brain injury.

    So say, let’s worry about both. Senseless death or injury is always bad. Guns and cars are potential hazards, going to my scientific geek-speech for a minute, and both need to be controlled by good hazard control plans in order to reduce public risk. Plus, the public has to take BOTH cars and guns seriously. I think most of the public takes guns seriously. Too bad the same cannot be said for cars–its a matter of cultural myopia.

  2. I note freedomfighter1995 liked this. Australia has enacted a Vision Zero for traffic as well as its “vision zero” for guns, i.e., the 1996 buyback. Maybe he can comment on that.

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