While the Surgeon General of the United States does not craft policy, impose regulations or pass laws, as “The Nation’s Doctor,” he or she certainly has a pulpit in the spotlight.
Which is why Second Amendment advocates are concerned with President Obama’s nomination of Dr. Vivek Hallegere Murthy — a 38-year-old British native and ardent gun-control zealot — to become the 19th Surgeon General of the U.S.
Obama made the nomination last November. Since then, Murthy’s appointment had been delayed in Senate confirmation hearings. In February, however, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee voted 13-9 to send Murthy’s nomination to the Senate. But, as many as 10 Democrats are ready to join Republicans in opposing it on the floor.
Murthy, a 2003 Yale graduate, is the president and founder of “Doctors for America,” which claims it has 15,000 medical workers and students as members. Murthy originally founded the group in 2008 as “Doctors for Obama.”
“Doctors for America” has lobbied for increased gun regulation as a matter of public health, such as in the “Docs vs. Glocks” debate in Florida. The group refers to guns as “the worst public health crisis you’ve never heard of” and actively petitions the public and politicians for support for gun control initiatives.
Murthy is no wallflower in expressing his anti-gun views, tweeting such comments as, “Tired of politicians playing politics w/ guns, putting lives at risk b/c they’re scared of NRA. Guns are a health care issue,” and “Signs of progress-we got 20 votes in the senate in favor of gun violence legislation that we wouldn’t have had 1 year ago. Have faith.”
In 2011, Murthy was appointed by the president to the U.S. Presidential Advisory Council on Prevention, Health Promotion, and Integrative and Public Health inside the Department of Health and Human Services, where he has been a prominent supporter of the administration’s health care laws.
Following the Newtown shooting in 2012, Murthy penned a letter to Congress proposing, “Mandatory waiting period of at least 48 hours” for ammunition sales as well as “mandatory firearms safety training.” At the same time, Doctors for America publicly supported the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013.
After receiving his nomination, Murthy tried to placate gun-owners’ fears by assuring, “I do not intend to use my office as surgeon general as a bully pulpit on gun control.”
During a recent Senate confirmation hearing, the National Shooting Sports Foundation and National Rifle Association both filed opposition to Murthy.
In a letter to Congress, NRA Executive Director Chris Cox writes that, “The American people deserve a Surgeon General who will carry out the mission of the office unmotivated by political or ideological goals. Given Dr. Murthy’s lengthy history of hostility towards the right to keep and bear arms … there is little reason to believe that he would not work to further a gun control agenda if confirmed as Surgeon General. Simply put, confirmation of Dr. Murthy is a prescription for disaster for America’s gun owners.”
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— President’s pro-gun control pick for Surgeon General drawing fire