Gary Conkling Life Notes

Mostly whimsical reflections on life

Dr. Murthy, the NRA and Public Health

The political zealots at the National Rifle Association target big political prey – presidential, senators, state legislators and local elected officials. Apparently they  have enough spare time to put a nominee for U.S. surgeon general in their cross-hairs.

Dr.-Vivek-Hallegere-MurthyDr. Vivek Murthy was nominated by President Obama and, if confirmed, would become the youngest surgeon general in U.S. history. At the moment, his nomination is in limbo, thanks to the NRA.

British born, Murthy came to the United States at age three and grew up in Miami. He attended Harvard, graduating magna cum laude in three years, then went to the Yale School of Medicine where he took his MD. Murthy is now an attending physician at a women’s hospital in Boston where he also teaches medicine at Harvard Medical School. Other than an Ivy League education, not much there for the NRA to hiss at.

Murthy is co-founder and chairman of TrialNetworks, which leverages digital technology to speed up and improve the quality of clinical trials for new drugs and medical procedures. He founded a company in 2008 to create a web platform enabling physicians to collaborate and boost their research productivity. This guy sounds like the kind of biotechnology entrepreneur that Republicans, even Dr. Ron Paul, would like to hug.

But that’s where the rub comes in. Murthy launched a physicians group that campaigned for Obama – and for universal access to health insurance. Clearly that sends up the red flag.

You also get suspicious of Murthy when you learn he has been a leader in HIV prevention and AIDs education since 1995. Who would want someone like that in an appointed post dealing with public health.

However, what really galls the NRA is Murthy’s views on gun control. Following the Newtown school shootings, Murthy tweeted, “Tired of politicians playing politics w/guns, putting lives at risk b/c they’re scared of the National Rifle Association. Guns are a health issue.” It was like calling out the NRA for a gunfight.

Murthy thinks there should be restrictions on how guns are purchased and who can buy them. His views are so far out that they happen to be, according to credible polling, identical to the views of a majority of Americans. He clearly is a radical, with a huge sympathetic mob behind him.

I’m sure Murthy has strong feelings about tobacco use. He might even favor banning tobacco products because people keep dying or suffering serious illnesses after using them. However, the tobacco industry isn’t exerting political pressure to block Murthy’s confirmation.

Murthy probably worries about overuse of prescription drugs as more Americans get hooked on painkillers and teenagers look for a thrill by mixing opiate cocktails with ingredients from the family medicine cabinet. But the pharmaceutical industry isn’t fomenting political jihad, even though a surgeon general could use his bully pulpit to urge stricter and more costly regulation on drug purchases and disposal.

No, only the politically paranoid operatives at NRA are running scared of Dr. Murthy and his Twitter feed. NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam concedes it is rare for the NRA to stake out a position on a surgeon general nominee, but adds, “All the rules have changed  as far as this White House is concerned. Given Dr. Murthy’s blatant activism on behalf of gun control, that’s not a gamble we’re willing to take.”

So there it is. Obama faces no more elections and can say what he actually thinks, such as people with histories of mental illness shouldn’t be able to buy bazookas. With a puppet appointment like Murthy as surgeon general, the next thing you know there will be an executive order to outlaw gunshot wounds, putting a huge dent in the Second Amendment.

From the rock under which the NRA is peering, it is a slippery slope from trying to stop shootings to violating someone’s fundamental right to buy a gun without a background check.


One comment on “Dr. Murthy, the NRA and Public Health

  1. Pingback: Obama nominee for Surgeon General says banning guns is part of medicine | Home Grown News Media

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