Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
Washington, D.C. – During a Senate hearing this week called, “The Gun Violence Epidemic: A Public Health Crisis,” a tense and noteworthy exchange unfolded between Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) and several of the witnesses, including Dr. Megan Ranney, an emergency room physician.
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Senator Questions ER Doctor’s Expertise and Views
Sen. Kennedy began his questioning by probing Dr. Ranney’s background as an ER doctor and her appearances on television.
He asked, “You are an ER Doc, is that right?”
He went on to inquire about her home television studio setup, to which Dr. Ranney clarified, “That’s a bit of an exaggeration…I had a laptop on a stool.”
Nevertheless, the point Sen. Kennedy was making remains: Dr. Ranney doesn’t mind the limelight.
Chicago’s Gun Violence Problem Discussed
The senator then shifted the focus to Chicago, a hotbed for gang-related violence. He asked Dr. Ranney, “Why do you think that Chicago has become America’s largest outdoor shooting range?”
“Do you think it’s because of Chicago citizens uh who have no criminal record but but who have a lawfully a gun in their home for protection or perhaps for hunting,” he continued, “or do you think it’s because of a finite group of criminals who have rap sheets as long as King Kong’s arm?”
To explicate, over 79% of firearm homicide victims in Illinois had a prior arrest, predominantly being male, Black, and under 30 years of age, according to a recent ICJIA study.
“I don’t live in Chicago; it’s not my primary area of research,” she said.
“I think there’s easy access to firearms combined with environmental conditions, lack of great education,” she added. “There have actually been studies showing that when you green vacant lots and repair abandoned buildings in urban neighborhoods, you see decreases in gunshots and violence as well as in stress and depression in the neighborhoods around them.”
Right, it’s not the Bloods or Crips or Latin Kings. It’s the “vacant lots” that’re causing all the murders.
Discussion on Gun Laws and Public Health
Sen. Kennedy’s questions grew more pointed as he referenced specific legal decisions related to gun control in various states and cities, seeking Dr. Ranney’s opinion.
Specifically, he asked about the New Mexico governor suspending 2A rights via an emergency order and the Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner dropping 47% of all the illegal firearms cases in the city. Not surprisingly, there was a spike in violent crime.
Sen. Kennedy asked if Dr. Ranney agreed with those decision.
On several occasions, Dr. Ranney maintained her position as a physician, stating, “I am neither a lawyer nor a prosecutor.”
Closing Remarks Highlight Ideological Differences
In his closing remarks, Sen. Kennedy challenged another witness’ philosophy on judgment and forgiveness, particularly in the context of violent crimes: Dr. Franklin Cosey-Gay, the Director of the Violence Recovery Program at the University of Chicago.
Senator Kennedy: “Let me ask one more question. I’m sorry, I cannot see that far. Doctor, on the very end, Franklin Cosey-Gay. Thank you. Yes, sir. You said, I wrote it down, you said that no one should be judged by the worst thing they have done in their lives, correct?”
Dr. Cosey-Gay: “Correct.”
Senator Kennedy: “If one of these young doctors sitting behind you, God forbid, walks out on the streets of Washington, D.C., and is raped or sodomized, you don’t think the rapist should be judged?”
Dr. Cosey-Gay: “I don’t think it should be terminal. It shouldn’t be for the rest of their lives.”
Senator Kennedy: “You think we should forgive them and not give them any punishment?”
Dr.Cosey-Gay “I believe in responsibility. I believe in forgiveness.”
Sen. Kennedy concluded with a brief thank you, leaving a room filled with unresolved tensions and a clear division in approaches to gun-related violence.
On one hand, there is a perspective that scapegoats responsible gun owners, uses kid gloves on repeat offenders, and overlooks the role of gang activity as a significant contributor to societal violence.
On the other, there exists a staunch defense of 2A rights, coupled with a call for stringent accountability for those culpable and a firm stance on tackling gang-related crimes.
Voters, aware of these differences, should consider them carefully when casting their ballots in the future.