The United States has been without a Surgeon General since July, 2013. The acting Surgeon General is Rear Admiral Boris Lushniak, Why is this position temporary? The Senate has refused to push through President Obama’s nominee for the position. While the Surgeon General cannot enact laws, this person can influence policy by discussion and is the national spokesperson for health related issues. Think back to comments from people serving in this position over smoking cigarettes, AIDS, and teen sex. Many folks just don’t want to have any discussion at all. This time, the NRA is leading the charge. Apparently, it fears any talk about gun violence or suicide. I can’t imagine a doctor worth his or her salt not talking about the importance of gun safety. Maybe we just won’t find a Surgeon General. Let’s examine what the problem seems to be, according to Billmoyers.com:
[T]he NRA has tried to bar pediatricians from counseling parents about the risks of keeping guns at home. The American Association of Pediatrics recommends that doctors begin to talk to parents about gun safety even before their baby is born and continue the conversation yearly, just as doctors talk to parents about the dangers of swimming pools and the importance of bicycle helmets. Florida passed a gag law in 2011; crafted by an NRA lobbyist, the bill forbids doctors from “making written inquiry or asking questions concerning the ownership of a firearm or ammunition by the patient or by a family member of the patient.” A district court ruled the following year that the law restricted physicians’ rights to free speech and the case is now in the appeals process. Murthy’s opposition to pediatrician gag laws was one of the reasons cited by the NRA and Rand Paul in their attempt to disqualify him.