Pro-gun candidates get more money from physician PACs despite #ThisIsOurLane

Physician-affiliated political action committees for the American Medical Association, American College of Emergency Physicians and American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons, among others, have contributed more money to U.S. Senate incumbents who voted against gun control regulation, according to an investigation published in JAMA Feb. 22.

The study analyzed the 25 largest physician organization-affiliated PACs to determine if politicians they support voted in favor of legislation that was in line with the organizations' views on firearm safety regulations.

Researchers examined candidates' voting records on two pieces of legislation in the House and Senate that sought to expand background checks for firearm purchases. The study also evaluated candidates' letter-grade ratings from the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund, which ranks politicians based on their support for the NRA's mission.

Researchers found that 20 of the 25 PACs contributed more money to Senate incumbents who voted against the legislation, while 24 PACs contributed more funding to House incumbents who did not sponsor the House bill.

"We were surprised to find that there was a pattern across the largest PACs affiliated with physician professional organizations — they gave more money and to a greater number of Congressional candidates who voted against background checks and were rated 'A' by the NRA. This pattern held true even for physician groups that publicly endorsed evidence-based policies to reduce firearm injury," Hannah Decker, a medical student at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta and co-first author of the paper, told Futurity.

Study authors said findings contradict the actions of numerous physicians nationwide who have taken to social media to call attention to multiple examples of gun-related violence with the hashtag #ThisIsOurLane.

"We aren't suggesting that these groups actively sought to support candidates that are against evidence-based firearms policies. Rather, our study shows that these physician PACs haven't made candidates' stance on firearms policy an issue they consider," Jeremiah Schuur, MD, chair of emergency medicine at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University in Providence, R.I., told Futurity.

"The question going forward is if physicians can change their organizations' PACs contribution criteria, so NRA 'A'-rated candidates no longer get the majority of physicians' political dollars," he added.

To access the full study, click here.

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