Joseph Sakran remembers the day in 1994 when an errant bullet changed the trajectory of his life. As a Virginia high school senior, he remembers the flash from the gun fired during a fight after a football game and blood gushing over his clothes. He had been shot in the throat. Sakran, 17, had many operations to help him breathe and speak. He resolved to become a doctor, believing his destiny was “to give others that second chance I’ve been given,” the Washington Post reports. Now 39 and a trauma surgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Sakran is on the forefront of a movement among medical professionals vocal about a surge in gun violence in Baltimore, where more than 240 people have been fatally shot this year.
Sakran is motivated by his experience as a survivor and his experience performing emergency surgery on gunshot victims. In Baltimore, one out of three people shot last year died, making the city one of the most lethal of large U.S. cities, said the Baltimore Sun. The odds for gunshot victims worsened last year in at least 10 of those cities, including Baltimore, Chicago and Milwaukee. At the same time, a number of deadly trends have taken root, including as criminals using higher-caliber guns with large-capacity magazines, leaving multiple-gunshot victims to bleed out more quickly. Political impasses over universal background checks for gun purchasers and federal funding for research into gun violence were among the reasons Sakran started the group Doctors for Hillary two years ago. After Donald Trump’s win over Clinton, Sakran plans to merge his group with Doctors for America, an advocacy group that has made increased federal funding for gun violence research a top goal. “More than ever, it’s going to be important for us to really take a concerted effort to say that ‘This is not a Democratic issue, not a Republican issue. This is an American issue,’ ” he said.