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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Washington (AFP) – A leading US medical journal hit out at the powerful American gun lobby for opposing the nomination for the post of top doctor, calling it a new form of “political blackmail.”

At issue is the nomination to the post of surgeon general of a Harvard medical school physician named Vivek Murthy, whose parents were born in India.

Murthy “has lived the American dream,” said the editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine, noting his role in expanding HIV education, broadening access to healthcare and fighting childhood obesity.

His nomination awaits a vote in the U.S. Senate, but that vote may be postponed or his candidacy withdrawn, amid reports that as many as 10 senate Democrats would vote against him, enough to keep him out of the post.

The National Rifle Association has sent letters to lawmakers and to members over the past two months, urging them to oppose Murthy based on his views on guns.

“Dr. Murthy’s record of political activism in support of radical gun control measures raises significant concerns about his ability to objectively examine issues pertinent to America’s 100 million firearm owners,” said one NRA letter to lawmakers, sent to AFP by the NRA press office.

A separate email alert to NRA members described Murthy as someone who agrees with President Barack Obama’s “radical anti-gun agenda” and who has “advocated on many occasions for the banning of lawfully owned firearms.”

“It’s clear that Dr. Murthy would be a prescription for disaster for America’s law-abiding gun owners,” the email said, urging NRA members to contact their senators to express their opposition.

The editors of the New England Journal of Medicine said Murthy has stood for “reasonable and mainstream forms of gun regulation, including an assault weapons ban, a limit on ammunition sales, and required safety training.”

These views are “unsurprising” given the more than 30,000 firearm deaths in the United States each year, the editorial said.

It also pointed out that Murthy has said that if confirmed, his principal focus would be on preventing obesity in America.

“This is the first time that the NRA has flexed its political muscle over the appointment of a surgeon general,” the editors wrote.

“By obstructing the president’s nomination of Vivek Murthy as surgeon general, the NRA is taking its single-issue political blackmail to a new level.”

The authors concluded by calling on U.S. senators to confront the NRA and vote according to their conscience.

“Dr. Murthy is an accomplished physician, policymaker, leader and entrepreneur. He deserves the president’s continued backing and should be confirmed.”

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  • sigrid28

    Here’s even more evidence of what a pernicious influence the NRA has become. Political blackmail in the case of the appointment of a new surgeon general is bad enough but not as deplorable as death threats on the NRA’s behalf against gun shop owners willing to sell new safe guns that could prevent many accidents that kill children and improve safety for law enforcement. Gun owners and NRA members who imagine the Second Amendment has anything to do with it are being manipulated even more than elected officials who count on the NRA to fund their political campaigns. It’s about the money, stupid. What matters to the NRA exclusively is the income of gun manufacturers and those who devise and sell gun paraphernalia.

    • latebloomingrandma

      When in doubt, always follow the money, and you will find your answer.

  • ps0rjl

    The NRA is mostly a lobbying group for the gun manufacturers. Fortunately it can whip up its members to support whatever the cause du jour. Its members are the sheep that the NRA uses to further its lobbying effort. The first time the gun manufacturers are at odds with the NRA members you will see the NRA abandon its members.

    • Allan Richardson

      That has already happened; polls show that a majority of rank and file MEMBERS of the NRA want sensible regulation, and are smart enough to know the DIFFERENCE between sensible regulation for the purpose of safety and crime prevention, and the paranoid fantasy of “confiscate the guns to subjugate the people” promoted by the NRA and John Birch Society tag team with Koch brothers’ big oil money.

  • Melda Page

    I think it is time we all start calling out our elected representatives publicly on this. It is a national disgrace. I’ll start: Senators Collins and King: how do you stand on this? Do either of you have the courage to answer?

    • Pamby50

      I hear you Melda. I have Senators Corker & Alexander. Alexander will do nothing as he is running for re-election.

    • idamag

      I write to my representatives and only one responds with a form letter that says. “Thank you very much for your input. I always want to know what my constituents think…” Now, in my state the tpotty is actively trying to replace our governor and my representative.

      • old_blu

        I write to mine as well, and they send back letters that say “thank you for your input” I always think if they read those letters they wouldn’t be thanking me.

  • mah101

    The NRA states: “Dr. Murthy’s record of political activism in support of radical gun
    control measures raises significant concerns about his ability to
    objectively examine issues pertinent to America’s 100 million firearm

    I think a saner interpretation is that he probably HAS objectively examined the issues and concluded – as have reasonable people everywhere – that our current limited regulation of access to firearms has provided opportunities for individuals with bad intent to cause great harm to people and society.

  • progressiveandproud

    The man is a perfect candidate for the position so of course the NRA hates him. Can’t have a sane person in that office you know.

  • Allan Richardson

    Would the American Automobile Association oppose licensing drivers, registering vehicles to pay for roads, requiring safety training for drivers and seat belts to save lives? Why should guns, whose INTENDED use could cause death, have LESS safety regulation than cars and trucks, which only kill people when used INCORRECTLY?

    The gun fanatics in Florida tried to tell doctors, including pediatricians, that they could not ASK their patients, or the PARENTS of their young patients, if there was a gun in the house, NOT in order to “report them to the Gestapo” but in order to PERSUADE them to take SAFETY precautions, such as locking up the guns to keep them away from kids.

    Sometimes I get the impression that the “right to keep and bear arms” promoted by the NRA is the “right” to keep and MISUSE them without any legal consequences.