Second Amendment advocates are worried about President Barack Obama's nominee for surgeon general, a political ally of the president and strong proponent of gun restrictions.
Dr. Vivek Hallegere Murthy, President Barack Obama's nominee to be the next U.S. surgeon general, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014, before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing on his nomination. (AP/Charles Dharapak
Dr. Vivek Hallegere Murthy is the president and founder of Doctors for America, which grew from the campaign organization that was called Doctors for Obama, started in 2008. The organization has advocated for a number of liberal initiatives, including strongly supporting the passage of Obamacare and Medicaid expansion.
The group has also been supportive of the Obama administration's failed push for expanding gun control laws in 2013. It successfully fought a proposed Florida law that would have prevented doctors from including in a person's medical file whether they are a gun owner. Doctors for America has referred to guns as a public health threat, and circulated a petition to pressure Congress to pass stricter gun laws.
“This is so big we are scoring it,” National Rifle Association spokeswoman Catherine Mortensen told TheBlaze regarding the vote on the surgeon general nomination. “We sent out notifications to our 5 million members asking them to contact their senator to vote against this nomination.”
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee voted 13-9 last month to send Murthy's nomination to the Senate floor.
The surgeon general does not have a major policymaking role, but rather has a megaphone to speak about public health issues.
But the person in that position must be someone the public can trust, Mortensen said.
“The surgeon general has the important task of providing information to people to help them make better decisions about health care. It's a position that requires trust and leadership,” Mortensen said. “The American people need to know they can look to that person who is independent and not with a political agenda. The American people deserve to have confidence in their surgeon general.”
NRA Executive Director Chris Cox sent a letter to members of the Senate denouncing Murthy's long advocacy of gun control.
The NRA takes particular exception to a letter from the organization on Jan. 14, 2013 supporting licensing of guns, limits on ammunition purchase, and a mandatory 48-hour waiting period. The letter further asks for removing “provision in the Affordable Care Act and other federal policies that prohibit physicians from documenting gun ownership.”
The NRA letter also quotes a Murthy tweet from Oct. 16, 2012 that “guns are a health care issue.”
Investors Business Daily reported on Murthy's anti-gun tweets, including, "Tired of politicians playing politics w/ guns, putting lives at risk b/c they're scared of NRA. Guns are a health care issue,” during the 2012 presidential elections, and in December 2012 in the immediate aftermath of the Sandy Hook massacre: "NRA press conference disappointing but predictable — blame everything in the world except guns for the Newtown tragedy. #wakeup."
A Doctors for America spokesperson did not immediately respond to inquiries from TheBlaze on Monday.
Beyond his political activity, Murthy has been an attending physician and medical instructor at the Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital since 2006. He co-founded VISIONS Worldwide in 1995, a nonprofit organization focused on HIV/AIDS education in India and the United States, where he served as president from 1995 to 2000 and chairman of the board from 2000 to 2003.
Even before Obama began advocating for more gun control laws in early 2013, Doctors for America touted itself in its “Docs vs. Glocks Campaign” in summer 2011 in Florida, gaining 200 signatures on a petition regarding including firearms ownership in medical information.