Later this week I am scheduled to attend a two-day conference at the Academy of Sciences Health and Medicine Division Institute in Washington, D.C. The conference topic is: “Health Systems Intervention to Prevent Firearm Injuries and Death.” The purpose of the conference is to update recommendations for additional gun research, a task recommended by President Obama after Sandy Hook. Of course this would mean that the CDC research spigot would be turned back on. Yea, dream on.
I’m not going to the meeting because I do not believe we need any more research on gun violence. What are we going to find out? That there’s some way to point a gun at yourself or someone else, pull the trigger and not suffer an injury or death? Oh, I forgot. We can always do yet another study which assumes that keeping the gun ‘safely stored’ will reduce gun violence. Except other than a couple of hundred youngsters who are accidentally shot each year by a dumb parent or older (or younger) child, safe storage doesn’t do squat.
You don’t walk around with a gun safely stored. You walk around with a live gun because you believe it will protect you from someone else who has a gun, or from someone else who wants to steal your money, or from someone like the kid in Corpus Christie this past weekend who got into an argument with another family member “over nothing” (according to a witness) then pulled out a banger and – bang! – four people were dead.
The Urban Institute study indicates that one out of three adolescents and young men in certain Chicago neighborhoods either have or plan to walk around their neighborhood with a gun. These neighborhoods experience killing rates twenty or thirty times higher than the national fatal gun-violence rate. How did that happen?
If one more physician tells me that he or she would like to advise patients to avoid guns but, after all, the Constitution gives the patient the ‘right’ to own a gun, I’m going to suggest that said doctor go back and read the Hippocratic Oath which happens not to mention the Constitution at all. If a patient walked into a clinic and admitted to being a smoker, would a physician dare avoid telling the patient that he shouldn’t smoke? Because in case you didn’t know it, smoking is also a Constitutional ‘right.’ It’s Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3 – the Commerce Clause. I can buy as many cigarettes as I want. In my state I have to be 21 to buy smokes. But I also have to be 21 to buy a handgun. How come the doctor insists that I shouldn’t exercise one Constitutional ‘right’ but I should just behave in a ‘reasonable’ way when I want to exercise the other Constitutional ‘right?’
Lester Adelson was Cuyahoga County coroner for almost thirty years. He had plenty of experience with gun violence and wrote a remarkable textbook on forensic homicide which should be read by everyone in the gun-control crowd. In 1980, he published what I believe is still the best and most concise opinion-piece on gun violence, and you can download it from my website here. I quote Adelson apropos of what happened in Corpus Christie: “With its peculiar lethality, a gun converts a spat into a slaying and a quarrel into a killing.”
Next time you buy a gun (ha ha) open the box and you will find an owner’s manual. If you don’t want to buy a gun, you can read one right here. Notice right on the first page it says in big, bold, red letters: “FAILURE TO FOLLOW THESE WARNINGS MAY RESULT IN SERIOUS INJURY OR DEATH TO YOU AND OTHERS.”
If gun makers don’t try to hide the fact that their products are dangerous, why do we need more research to learn the same thing? Since the medical community hasn’t figured this one out I’ll explain it: you reduce gun risk by getting rid of the risk. Gee, that was a tough one.