I have just been to the war zone. That is, the emergency room of a large hospital in metropolitan Los Angeles.
There I examined a child of 12 who was shot from a passing car while he and his family were standing on the sidewalk.
The bullet entered his right chest cavity and lodged in his spinal canal. He has paralysis of both legs and has lost sensation from the waist down.
The slug destroyed his spinal cord at the lower thoracic level. He will never be able to walk again, nor will he be able to urinate or defecate normally, or have sexual function.
The means by which such tragedies are perpetrated have to be withdrawn from public access. All the money in the world, from the beginning of time until time ends, multiplied by infinity, will not permit this child's spinal cord to recover. He has been damaged forever. He was the victim of an act of violence that takes place so often that society seems to have closed its eyes to its existence, possibly to protect its collective sanity.
I am familiar with all the arguments, pro and con, of gun control, and yet the arguments are of no value to this child.
It is my hope that anybody reading this letter would not be so smug as to feel that this couldn't happen to them. It could happen to any of us. Tragically, it will continue to occur until guns and bullets are no longer available. The people of many countries of the world seem to be able to lead fulfilling live without having access to firearms. Such should be the case in this country too.
FREDRIC L. EDELMAN MD