From the Journals

Physician PAC dollars support candidates against gun regulation

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Dear PACs: We’re in our lane

Though national membership organizations have finally taken a lead in advocating for firearm safety, this study from Schuur et al. illustrates the disconnect between physician PACs and the physicians themselves, according to Rebecca M. Cunningham, MD, Marc A. Zimmerman, PhD, and Patrick M. Carter, MD, of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

The study comes in the wake of the NRA admonishing physicians to “stay in their lane,” which was met by a very vocal response via social and mass media. “Health care professionals demonstrated that, contrary to the NRA position, they have an undeniably central role and authority in addressing this public health problem through the direct care that they provide to patients and their families, prevention-based research, and advocacy for policy-level changes that make patients safer,” they wrote.

The coauthors noted the parallels to the American Medical Association previously calling for tobacco regulation while financially supporting politicians who felt otherwise. It’s a comparison that is meant as a cautionary tale; as more focus is placed on this particular issue, “medical PACs must consider the increasing physician voice on the need to address firearm-associated morbidity and mortality in the policy arena to reduce their experience with this issue in emergency bays, operating rooms, and clinics.”

Rebecca M. Cunningham, MD, Marc A. Zimmerman, PhD, and Patrick M. Carter, MD, are with the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. They reported having no conflicts of interest. Their comments are adapted from an accompanying editorial (JAMA Netw Open. 2019 Feb 22. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.7823 ).



Despite many physician professional organizations endorsing policies that support firearm regulation, more of their political donations go to candidates who oppose those policies, according to a study of political action committee (PAC) campaign contributions during the 2016 election cycle.

Guns and bullets Bytmonas/ThinkStock

“Our analysis indicates that most of the largest physician organizations’ PACs contribute more to candidates whose stances on firearm policy are in direct opposition to evidence-based firearm policies and to their organization’s stances,” wrote lead author Jeremiah D. Schuur, MD, of Brown University, Providence, R.I., and his coauthors.

The study was published in JAMA Network Open.

This retrospective, cross sectional study examined contributions from the 25 largest physician organization–affiliated PACs during the 2016 election cycle and compared them to federal candidate support for firearm regulation.

Support for regulation was measured by voting history on U.S. House and Senate legislation proposing firearm background checks and their rating from the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF).

Health care professional–related PACs in general contributed $23.7 million during the 2016 election cycle; 57% of that sum ($13.6 million) came from the 25 largest physician-affiliated PACs.

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