The 150,000 registered nurses of National Nurses United (NNU) are sickened and angered as we bear witness to the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas; Dayton, Ohio; and Gilroy, Calif. Horrifically, these three mass shootings have claimed the lives of at least 32 people, and left dozens of others injured. NNU represent nurses in all three locations.
As healers and caretakers who respect the humanity of every person, nurses see very clearly the root causes of this disease of gun violence infecting our country: rampant xenophobia and a lack of common-sense gun control policies. These factors combined have created a public health crisis of epidemic proportions.
Writings by the El Paso shooter, as reported in the news, are a reminder of the deadly consequences of hate speech and anti-immigrant policies that must be challenged and denounced by all.
“The current political climate has fanned the flames of hatred and division, creating fertile ground for white supremacists, racism, and violence,” said NNU President Jean Ross, RN. “We must denounce not only these violent acts, but the rhetoric and policies that denigrate our fundamental belief that all people are entitled to dignity and respect, regardless of their race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identification, or immigration status.”
As registered nurses, we honor the dignity of each human life and focus on the commonalities that bind us all. Nurses take a sacred oath to care for anyone who needs help, and inherently reject intolerance, racism, hate, and bigotry.
In El Paso, NNU represents nurses at Del Sol Medical Center, where some of the wounded in Saturday’s shooting were taken and cared for.
“El Paso has a proud history of being one of the safest cities in the country,” said Kim Martinez, an intensive care unit RN at Del Sol. “It is a place where neighbors look out for one another, though they may speak different languages or come from very different places. The pain of this shooting has touched us all, and will stay with us for years to come. But we are committed to healing our community and ensuring that all our residents are treated with respect and dignity.”
Nurses understand the impact bullets have on our bodies, as well as the lasting devastation gun violence has on families and communities. There have been a staggering 254 mass shootings in the United States in 2019 alone, according to the Gun Violence Archives. We are demanding meaningful action be taken to find solutions to this tragic health crisis.
“Military-grade assault weapons have no place on the streets of the United States,” said Bonnie Castillo, a registered nurse and executive director of NNU. “Rampant gun violence threatens our very democracy. Democracy is dependent on the ability of all individuals to engage in free speech, to gather together, and to debate ideas in a safe environment. There can be no true civil discourse when people fear leaving their homes, or entering into public life.”
Gun violence is a leading cause of premature death in the United States, the American Public Health Association notes. Guns kill more than 38,000 people and cause nearly 85,000 injuries each year. Gun associated homicides are the second leading cause of death for young people aged 15 to 24.
“Just weeks after a mass shooting in a New Zealand mosque left 50 people dead, their country moved quickly to outlaw military-style weapons,” said Castillo. “We have now had two mass shootings within 13 hours. What does it take for the United States to act?”
National Nurses United nurses will continue to monitor the situation in El Paso and advocate, as always, on behalf of patients to ensure that hospitals provide proper staffing of units and provision of social services to victims, their families, and the health care workers treating them in order for everyone to receive the best care possible.
NNU would like to offer thanks and praise to the first responders who jumped into action as these tragedies unfolded in their communities. We are heartened by the response of those in the communities who have offered their support, their blood, and their energy to aid their neighbors in this time of need.