Keep up the fight in the war on guns – posted by on May 18, 2024

Having learned of the gun buyback held May 11 from the newspaper (“Safety in homes: Reduce the amount of guns,” Our View, May 8), I made a point of visiting the event sponsored by New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence.

I had a great time chatting with volunteers, members of the Santa Fe Police Department, reporters, Mayor Alan Webber, District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies and local folks turning in firearms and ammo for gift cards. There was one guy who only wanted a thank-you. This matters to me because I am an occupational psychiatrist who listens to tales of citizens involved in our nation’s gun violence epidemic. If COVID-19 were a serious epidemic, at least it wasn’t self-inflicted.

My profession, occupational psychiatry, involves consultation on cases of employees who experience work-related accidents or trauma. Not uncommonly, guns are involved. Here are some of the people with whom I’ve consulted. A convenience store clerk raped with a gun during a robbery. A burned out homicide detective who was the lead investigator of a mass shooting at a shipping hub in San Francisco, where I interviewed 13 of the victims. Firefighters issued Kevlar vests when going into active shooting scenes. EMTs, sheriff’s deputies, and paramedics called to the scenes of human carnage caused by guns. The toll wears on a person.

Trained in public health and health policy, I speak out on guns, including in letters and articles in this newspaper. I have presented on the topic of gun violence to groups of academics, doctors, lawyers, church parishioners, library audiences and others. Like my college professor who spoke out about the Vietnam War, I have chosen to do so about America’s domestic war.

In my book, Wounded Workers: Tales from a Working Man’s Shrink, and in an upcoming publication, America’s Most Dangerous Jobs: More Tales from a Working Man’s Shrink, a number of gun-related tragedies are portrayed. These tales are not fictional but real accounts of our shared reality. If leadership at The New Mexican can encourage more than 100 gun owners to turn in their firearms, then that’s a positive step pushing back against NRA propaganda.

The weapons industry that funds the lobbying for our Second Amendment rights is perfectly happy selling Americans weapons of war when there is reduced demand from wars overseas. As the buyback was a good step, let’s end on a message of hope.

The Five Keys to Happiness: Release hatred from your heart. It does you no good. Let go of anxiety from your mind. You can’t fix it all. Live more simply. You don’t need that latest device. Give back more. There’s always someone who needs it more than you do. Expect not less of yourself, but for yourself.

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