A top trauma doctor who has come face to face with thousands of gunshot victims says gun violence is a national health crisis and is glad the president is doing something about it. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.
Sheldon Teperman, director of trauma at Jacobi Medical Center, keeps an old pair of sneakers under his desk as a horrible reminder of the thousands of gunshot victims he has treated.
"It has been soaked year after year with blood," Teperman said. "It is literally soaked with the blood of America's children."
Teperman says he has the blood of those children, adults and seniors on his hands as well.
He says he broke down in tears a few years ago after 92-year-old Sadie Mitchell died on the operating table. She was hit by a stray bullet while watching TV in her Bronx home.
"My attempts in Congress and the New York state Senate, up until Newtown, there had been very very little interest in getting something done," he said. "The [National Rifle Association] seemed unstoppable and from time to time it is very frustrating."
As an anti gun violence advocate, he says he's pleased by President Barack Obama's newly announced gun policies. In the 1990's, Teperman had unsuccessfully lobbied Washington lawmakers to keep the national ban on assault rifles.
"This is not like curing cancer or world peace," Teperman said. "It's just a simple question of the will of the people."
Tom King, head of the New York Rifle and Pistol Association and NRA board member, says at least parts of the Obama's proposal are okay with him.
"We have always advocated to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals, the mentally maladjusted or anybody who would be a threat to them or society," King said Wednesday on NY1's Road To City Hall.
Obama also called on the Centers for Disease Control to research the roots of gun violence.
Teperman says that is important.
"Is there something in their environment that you can help with and you mentor them and you carry them through and you look at them," Teperman said. "You can actually make a difference. You can decrease recidivism."
He says he's hopeful that eventually he'll see fewer victims in his emergency room.