Greg Gibson: Taking Back The 2nd Amendment.

The Second Amendment is truly remarkable. We alone among nations have, not only the unfettered right to keep and bear arms, but an access to guns that is unequaled by any other stable society in the world. This constitutional right bespeaks a deep faith in the civility, wisdom, and maturity of all Americans – a fundamental trust in the average citizen that is unparalleled anywhere else in the world.

2nd amendmentPeople talk about American exceptionalism, and we ARE exceptional as a nation, in part because of our right to keep and bear arms, and the ways in which this right has become a part of our heritage. It is more than a privilege, more than an custom. It is a unique and glorious right.

And look what we’ve done with it. Just open the paper, turn on the TV, take out your phone.

Guns falling into the hands of madmen, domestic abusers, and teenagers with still-developing brains. Guns to keep people safe from people with guns. Guns on night stands. Guns in pockets and purses. Guns in shopping malls, on college campuses. 300 million guns.

35,000 gun deaths a year. 125,000 injured. Hundreds of thousands suffering the grief, trauma, and displacement that trail in the wake of gun violence. Whole communities turned into vengeful, dysfunctional battlegrounds.

We should be ashamed of ourselves.

We’ve defiled this right. Through our own inaction and inattention we’ve let custody of the Second Amendment slide into the hands of ideologues, profiteers, and fear-mongerers, overseen by a cowardly Congress unable to act on the will of the people.

Don’t you think it’s time we reclaimed our Second Amendment?

Sensible people like you and me. Gun owners and non-gun owners. Red people. Blue people. Plain, unassuming, reasonable men and women, standing millions strong, facing down fanatics of every stripe.

We’re here for our Second Amendment, guys. We want our amendment back… NOW!

 

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Don’t Forget Self-Defense When You Celebrate The 4th.

In case you want to be a real American tomorrow and celebrate July 4th the way real Americans are going to celebrate, here’s an eye-catching advertisement I received from one of the websites that sells all the most important stuff to Gun-nut Nation on this most patriotic day. Actually, the most important stuff for the 4th is the case or keg of beer. But after that item, what counts is how you go about making sure that your personal protection is up to date.

armor3              Let’s see.  Body Armor – Medical Kits – Targets.  Those are the must-have items in case of a terrorist attack, or better yet, making sure you can defend yourself and your loved ones from a flood of illegals from you know where. Trump says that those kids in Texas will be sent to military bases here and there – I can see the FEMA trailers rolling right now into Fort Bliss or Fort Hood.  Let’s not forget to string the barbed wire around the trailers so that the kids can’t escape because all you need is one twelve-year-old invading the town and then God knows all kinds of Hell might break loose.

Now if such an invasion does occur and you and your loved ones are facing a threat, having a complete set of body armor is a prerequisite for personal defense.  You can choose between soft armor, designed for ‘pistol threat protection’ or hard armor, which is ‘rugged, reliable and ‘stress fracture resistant,’ cost based on size and weight.

Do you know what an EPIK is?  Do you have an EPIK?  Well, if the answer to either of those questions is ‘no,’ you better get with the program and purchase an EPIK today.  That’s right – today! Because if you don’t buy your EPIK today, you won’t have it ready for July 4th, which means you won’t be able to protect yourself and your loved ones from come what may.

The EPIK is an Emergency Personal Injury Kit to be used against ‘life-threatening bleeding injuries,’ specifically designed to ‘stop bleeding fast from a gunshot, knife, or other traumatic bleeding wound.’ And this particular product is extremely versatile because you never know how or where the threat may appear.  You can buy an EPIK to fit in your ‘Pocket, Plate Carrier, Backpack, Glove Box, Range Bag, and Survival Kit, anywhere you need it.’ And your personal EPIK starts at only $39.99.

Now you may think that the purpose of this column is to give free advertising to the company that makes and markets all this crap. But that’s not it at all. What today’s column is all about is my continued amazement at the ability of American entrepreneurship to come up with new ways to sell Gun-nut Nation stuff they don’t need.

Of course, what nobody really needs is another self-defense gun, and if what I see and hear from the gun shops around here is any indication of how gun sales are going across the fruited plain, just about everyone in Gun-nut Nation has also bought every gun that they could ever need to own. One of the local gun stores has a big sign out front telling customers that they can take 50 bucks off the retail price of any gun. The dealer won’t make a dime on the sale, but at least he’ll move some iron off the shelf.

Remember Glenn Beck peddling freeze-dried foods that would be edible even after sitting in your backyard bomb shelter for thirty years?  That’s right – the same Glenn Beck who’s now bankrupt. How could anyone in their right mind believe they need to drive around with a personal injury kit, particularly when the average adult doesn’t know squat about how to deal with any kind of traumatic medical injury at all?

God bless America, God bless the free enterprise system, and most of all, God bless our sacred duty to protect ourselves and our loved ones by spending a few bucks on some worthless junk.  Have a great 4th!

Further Comment On What We Don’t Know About Gun Violence Numbers.

If I didn’t have anything better to do, I would have spent an hour this past Thursday at the Hammer Health Sciences Center, part of Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, listening to a panel of experts talk about public health solutions to gun violence. The lead panelist, Professor Sonali Rajan, has published several articles on gun violence, one of which, “Firearms in K­12 Schools: What is the Responsibility of the Education Community?” notes that schools tend to be very safe environments , but “even one instance of gunfire in a school should be considered one too many.”

cdc             Is Dr. Rajan serious?  I thought the science of what happens when a bullet collides with a human body had long been settled, at least since somewhere around the 15th Century when Bartolomeo Beretta manufactured a pile of gun barrels at his little factory in Gardone in 1526.  But evidently Professor Rajan and her colleagues still believe that all kinds of gaps exist in public health research gun research; in fact, she concludes by saying, “There is an urgent need for coordinated efforts by the education community to effectively address the implications of firearms inside and surrounding K‐12 schools.”

And why is there such an ‘urgent’ need for more gun research? Because those meanies at the NRA and their sycophantic followers in Congress have blocked research money for more than twenty years. In her article, Dr. Rajan joins a long and distinguished list of scholars who have been pointing out, with good reason, that the lack of funding stymies any real effort to figure out strategies that will lead to less violence caused by guns.

Far be it from me to try and cast the boys in Fairfax as being anything other than totally opposed to gun-violence research.  But while it’s convenient to cast the NRA as the villain in this piece, the story doesn’t end there. I can’t imagine that someone doing research on any virulent disease would accept not knowing where the data came from on which the study was based. But guess what? The data on gun violence published by the CDC comes from a ‘representative sample’ of 100 U.S. hospitals who send data on all ER visits for injuries to an agency called the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) run by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the outfit that DD Trump is trying to shut down.

Hey, wait a minute.  I thought that thanks to those NRA meanies, the Consumer Product Safety Commission can regulate the design of baby carriages, vacuum cleaners, lawn mowers and other lethal products, but they can’t regulate guns. But they can send data on gun injuries to the CDC.  And while the folks at NEISS declined to send me the ‘nationally representative’ list of hospitals which supply the data on gun injuries, they do publish a map showing the location of these participating hospitals, so please download it here.

Take a look at Louisiana, the Number One state for gun injuries of both the fatal and non-fatal kind.  The NEISS hospital appears to be located at least 50 miles away from New Orleans, which happens to be the state’s chief killing ground. In Virginia, the participating hospital is probably near the small town of Danville, more than 100 miles from Richmond. There’s no hospital at all in New Mexico, which is only ranked 4th-highest among all states for gun suicides involving victims under the age of 29.

This is the source for the data which scholars use for the research which then informs the GVP community about which strategies they should follow and promote?  This is the data which the GVP claims is evidence-based, as opposed to the gun-rights gang who don’t care about evidence at all? I wrote about this issue last week but I’m writing about it again because I simply cannot accept the idea that gun-violence research is flying along so blind.

I only wish that some organization with more authority than me can find a way to set this straight. We owe it to the 125,000 people shot each year by guns, even if we really don’t know what that number means.

How Many People Get Shot By Guns? Nobody Knows.

As soon as the NRA show rumbles to an end, our friends in the gun-control world can get back to business and celebrate the latest news about gun violence from the CDC.  Because the CDC has just published the numbers for how many Americans were wounded but not killed by guns in 2016, and the number is the highest it has ever been – 116,114 – an increase from the 2015 of nearly 40 percent!

cdc            The only problem with the numbers reported by the CDC is that they probably aren’t correct.  How can I say something like that?  I mean, we’re not talking about numbers from this survey outfit or that; we’re not talking about Pew, or Gallup, or even the vaunted gun researchers at Rand.  We’re talking about the U.S. Government and even more to the point, about the agencies responsible for medical research, which we all know is science- based.  This data is also instintingly used by gun-violence researchers at major academic institutions like Harvard and Johns Hopkins, so it has to be correct, right?

If by using the word ‘correct’ we are saying that the numbers on gun injuries collected and published by the CDC are accurate to the point that they withstand serious scrutiny either in terms of how the numbers are gathered or how they are used, then when I characterize these numbers as correct, I am wrong. And I’m not saying that I’m a little bit wrong. I’m saying that I am wrong to the degree that anyone who uses these numbers to support any argument about gun violence is making an argument out of whole cloth.  Which happens to be a polite way of saying that the numbers are nichtsnutzig, pas bien, non buono, zilch – whatever works, okay?

The CDC numbers on non-fatal gun injuries come from an agency known as the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), an outfit run by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC.) The data collected by NEISS “is based on a nationally representative probability sample of hospitals in the U.S.” Those happen to be my italics, and if you can show me a single place where these numbers are used by any gun-control organization with the caveat that they are a ‘sample’ rather than what the real numbers might be, I’ll send a hundred bucks to the charity of your choice. Don’t waste your time looking, I already did.

Hey! Wait a minute! I thought the gun industry was exempt from any consumer regulation by the CPSC or anyone else.  That happens to be true, thanks to an exemption written into the first Consumer Product Safety Act of 1972. But this law doesn’t prevent the CPSC from collecting information about consumer injuries from guns, an activity for which they use the same NEISS reporting system and then send the numbers to the CDC.  The NEISS numbers for gun injuries also come from the same ‘nationally representative’ hospitals which furnish the injury data for every other product group: toys, kitchen appliances, ATVs, amusement-park rides and just about everything else.

I don’t know about injuries from hair dryers or chain saws, but when it comes to gun injuries, the ‘nationally representative’ list of hospitals isn’t representative at all.  How do you compute a national estimate of gun violence when the hospital you use in Virginia is located in the little town of Danville, whereas Richmond is left out? How do you have any idea about gun violence in Florida without including at least one hospital from Dade County?

The CDC says that the margin for error they employ for gun injuries means that the actual number might be 30% higher or lower than the specific number they publish each year. Which means that the real 2016 gun-injury number might have been as low as 85,000 or as high as 150,000 – take a pick.

Whether they know it or not, when gun-control advocates talk about the number of gun injuries, it’s nothing but a guess. You would think that the gun-violence researchers, on whose work the gun-control movement depends, would at least try to point this out.

 

 

 

American College Of Emergency Physicians Promotes Guns? Yep.

It seems like eons ago when the medical profession found itself under direct assault by Gun-nut Nation exemplified by a 2011 Florida law that criminalized physicians who chose to counsel patients on the health risks of guns. This attempt to intimidate doctors, known as ‘Docs versus Glocks,’ was eventually thrown into the legal trash basket by the 11th Circuit, after which doctors became much more vocal about the need to join the campaign against gun violence that emerged following Sandy Hook.

ER1             The engagement of doctors in the gun violence prevention (GVP) movement took a major step forward in 2015 with the publication of a manifesto ‘A Call for Action’ calling for more involvement by physicians, a document signed by 7 national health organizations, along with the American Public Health Association and the American Bar Association. At the same time, many health organizations issued statements about gun violence, one of the most active organizations in this respect being the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP.)

Not only has the ACEP gone on record multiple times supporting various programs to reduce gun violence, but in 2013 the organization adopted a “Firearm Safety and Injury Prevention policy that included including investigating socioeconomic and other risk factors that lead to firearm injury, promoting access to affordable mental health services and supporting universal background checks, among other recommendations.

It should not come as a surprise that ACEP would take the lead in gun violence medical advocacy. How could it be otherwise, given the fact that the organization represents physicians who, more than any other medical specialty, deal with gun injuries as a frequent part of their job. Not only are more than 75,000 people with bullet wounds transported into emergency medical facilities each year, but many ER doctors also find themselves counseling numerous patients suffering from mental distress who are often at high risk because they happen to own guns.

But before we give ACEP a collective pat on its organizational back, let me tell you something else about what this group is doing regarding gun violence, because what they are also doing is promoting gun violence in a cynical and self-serving way. What I am referring to is the fact that only 4 other medical organizations, including the AMA, donated more money in 2016 to Republican politicians, many of whom support pro-gun laws.

That’s right. In 2016 the ACEP gave political donations through its PAC to 128 House Republicans, many of whom also receive money from the NRA.  Among these recipients was Joe Wilson from South Carolina, he’s the one who called President Obama a ‘liar’ from the House floor. After the Charleston church massacre, Wilson said he saw no real reason to make any changes to NICS. Another recipient of monies from both the NRA and the ACEP is Wilson’s South Carolina colleague, Jeff Duncan, who happens to be the sponsor of the bill to remove gun silencers from NFA controls. Want a third glowing example of NRA-ACEP largesse? Try David Joyce (R-OH) who says he’s a steadfast supporter of the 2nd Amendment because “we must ensure that all Americans are safe and secure from radical Islamic terrorists and other national security threats.”

The fact that a national organization representing physicians who have called for reducing gun violence takes the money they collect from these doctors (ACEP annual dues run $600+ a year) and gives this money to jerks like Wilson, Duncan and Joyce isn’t just a ‘mistake.’  It’s scandalous, downright offensive and should be stopped.  The ACEP is not the only medical society that signed off on the 2015 manifesto but continues to give aid and comfort to the Congressional enemies of sensible initiatives to reduce violence from guns, but in terms of dollars, ACEP is by far the worst.

The ACEP membership to do the right thing and stop contributing this blood money right away. You don’t need to engage in an evidence-based, longitudinal study to know the difference between right and wrong.

 

 

 

 

 

Will National Concealed-Carry Reciprocity Increase Gun Violence?

What would be the result if the national concealed-carry bill being considered by the Senate actually passed and was signed into law? According to the pro-gun gang, this law will allow every American to use a gun for self-defense no matter where he or she goes. The gun-control gang, on the other hand (I’m trying to be as even-handed as possible but don’t expect me to keep it up) says that such a law will unleash a wave of untrained people carrying guns from states that require little or no pre-licensing training to states which require some kind of safety certification before someone can walk around with a gun. Let’s start with the pro-gun argument first.

CCW1             By now everyone is aware of the ‘fact’ that people with guns prevent millions of crimes from being committed each year. This argument first burst out of the brain of Gary Kleck in the early 90’s, and continues to pop up on various sites here and there. Although Kleck doesn’t necessarily go along any more with his own nonsense, the idea that more guns equal less crime is a gun-nut refrain which floats around about as frequently as the idea that Trump and the Russians had nothing to do with each other during the 2016 Presidential campaign. Last month, according to John Lott, armed citizens prevented a whole, big 22 criminal attacks from taking place, which is a whole, big nothing.

Unfortunately, the reverse argument used to support the idea that concealed-carry laws (CCW) will lead to more crime, isn’t a study of CCW at all.  It’s a critique of how Lott analyzed data in his book, More Guns, Less Crime, which isn’t a study of the impact of CCW, no matter what his critics say. The fact that a particular jurisdiction makes it easier to receive a CCW license, or abolishes the CCW licensing process altogether, doesn’t mean that more people are necessarily walking around with guns. And it certainly doesn’t mean they are walking around in neighborhoods where most crime actually occurs.

My friend John Lott has taken it upon himself to track the increase in CCW licenses issued over the last few years, but even he admits that “the main focus from a crime prevention point of view should be whether people actually do carry guns.” Unfortunatrly, neither he nor anyone else can provide data which confirms that more CCW means more people are actually walking around armed. The Pew gun survey found that 40% of gun owners kept a gun within ‘easy reach,’ but only 10% carried one around all the time.

What seems to provoke the greatest degree of concern among advocates opposed to national CCW reciprocity is that someone living in a state which requires little or no training will be able to take a weapon into another state where training is mandated, thus creating a safety risk that would not exist if issuing authorities continued to set the requirements for CCW within their own state.  Last year some of our public health research friends published a survey of gun training, noting that only 60% of gun owners underwent training of any kind, findings that were turned around and immediately ballyhooed by the GVP media, proclaiming that 4 out of 10 self-defense handgun owners received no training at all.

What nobody in either the research team or the GVP media bothered to point out is that the so-called training received by a majority of CCW-holders is about as effective in preparing them to actually use a gun in self-defense as a driving course prepares someone to pilot a rocket module to the moon. The good news is that less than 1% of victims of violent crime actually use a gun in self-defense; the point being that the entire argument over national CCW has little to do with either gun violence or violent crime. A debate about guns not based on reality? No, I don’t believe it.  Can’t be true.

What Types Of Guns Are The Most Lethal? Depends On How They’re Used.

One of the major gaps in public health gun research has just been filled with an article that details the kinds of guns that are used in gun violence of all kinds, in particular the slightly less than 80,000 who ended up in a hospital emergency room with some type of gun wound. The study was conducted by researchers and surgeons connected to Johns Hopkins University Hospital, and covered a representative national sample of all ER gun-injury admissions from 2006 to 2014.

ER             The importance of knowing what type of gun was used to inflict that violence shouldn’t be underestimated for the simple reason that regulating gun ownership with more than 300 million guns floating around can be a fairly costly dead end.  Right now the guy who walks into my gun shop and buys a bolt-action hunting rifle which holds 4-5 cartridges has to jump through the same legal hoops as the guy who walks in and buys a Glock 17 which holds 16 or 17 high-powered rounds.  And the idea that any gun which changes hands without a background check could be a greater threat to public safety flies in the face of how we usually think about the lethality of guns.  But thanks to the researchers at Hopkins, for the first time we can make the connection between what kinds of guns are involved in different types of gun violence and perhaps craft policies that better reflect what types of guns need to be controlled.

Along with figuring out what types of guns are used for different types of gun violence events, the researchers also put together some interesting data on the demographics of individuals who are injured with a gun. Interestingly, the age cohorts for persons sustaining gun injuries showed a similar pattern for accidents, suicides and assaults; i.e., in all three categories, victims ages 18-29 appeared most frequently, whereas I would have thought that gun suicide attempts were higher as the patient age went up.  We have always known that young men are most vulnerable when it comes to guns and assaults, but their vulnerability to gun violence evidently extends to suicide as well.

The most important takeaway from this research effort, however, is the finding that different types of guns figure prominently in different types of injuries.  When someone ends up in the ER as the result of a handgun wound, there’s better than a 50-50 chance that the shooting was an intentional assault. If the wound was from a shotgun, the chances were 4 out of 10 that it was an assault but intentional injuries from AR-style rifles were 3 out of 10. What was the weapon responsible for most unintentional injuries? A standard hunting rifle, figuring in more than 7 out of 10 accidents, followed by AR rifles at more than 60% of all AR wounds.

But here’s the real issue which needs to be understood.  Of all the patients who came into the ER with a gun wound from which they were suffering but were still alive, only suicide claimed more than 10% of those victims; for everyone else getting to the ER alive with a gun wound meant at least a 9 out of 10 chance of being saved.  What is the type of weapon which suicide victims are more than likely to choose?  Turns out that more suicides are attempted with hunting rifles than with anything else!

This is a very serious finding and one that needs more serious discussion in order to be better understood. Because in thinking about gun violence, we usually consider hunting accidents to be nothing more than the fact that in order to hunt you usually have to use a gun. No different than using a parachute to do skydiving and maybe the chute fails to open up. But if gun suicides are 2/3 of all gun fatalities and the weapon of choice is a bolt-action rifle which only holds 4-5 rounds, is any kind of gun less lethal than any other kind?

Kudos to Ladd Everitt for alerting us to this study.

 

What’s The Difference Between Accidental And Non-Accidental Shootings? No Difference.

When I entered graduate school in 1967, the very first book I purchased was a big, fat compendium known as the Chicago Manual of Style. It was published by The University of Chicago Press and was considered the non-plus-ultra guide to anything having to do with writing or editing scholarly and non-fiction articles and books. And since I was studying economic history, I was going to be writing lots of academic papers which needed to meet the standard for how to do footnotes, end notes, quotations, references and all that other bothersome stuff which writers of academic works need to pretend they understand.
kids and gunsOf course in 1967 there was no internet, for that matter there were no such things as word processors and I don’t recall even putting my fingers on the keyboard of an IBM Selectric typewriter until 1970 or 1971 (although I had actually seen one a few years prior to that date.) Because I come from the Stone Age in terms of communication technologies and skills, I don’t take for granted the degree to which so much of what I had to do by hand when I first started writing is now done online. And one of those online resources which helps me and countless other writers and bloggers get things done in an efficient and orderly way is the AP Stylebook which is an extremely useful reference work containing definitions, topics, themes and other information to be used when an event or an issue has to be quickly understood and described. I just clicked on the topic – hurricanes – and up came a whole list of definitions for every type of tropical storm, the name and address of various federal agencies that deal with hurricane relief, and so on.

The AP Stylebook stays up to date by giving users an opportunity to suggest either new topics and/or content which should be added or revised. In this way, writers who are covering topical events can feel confident that if they utilize a resource from the Stylebook it will reflect the most recent way in which that issue is described or understood. One of our good GVP friends, Ladd Everitt, has just initiated a campaign through his organization, One Pulse for America, to have the Stylebook revise its definition of an ‘accidental’ shooting because, as Ladd says, “’Accidental’ implies that nothing can be done to prevent such shootings, when nothing is further from the truth.” Most accidental shootings, as Ladd points out, occur either because of negligence (the gun was left unsecured) or the owner was acting like a dope. The AP Stylebook team responded by saying they would consider changing the description of ‘accidental shootings’ when a new edition appears next year.

There is no question that referring to unintentional injuries caused by guns as ‘accidents’ gives a misleading impression about whether or not anyone should be blamed when a gun goes off when it’s not supposed to go off. But I also think that making a clear distinction between accidental, as opposed to non-accidental gun injuries can create its own misleading impression for what gun violence is really all about.
Lester Adelson was the coroner for Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) nearly 40 years, during which time he saw thousands of individuals who were killed with guns. In 1992 he published a summary article on gun violence, “The gun and the sanctity of human life; or The bullet as pathogen” which for me, ranks as the single most incisive and profound work ever published on this issue, and you can download it here. Here’s what Adelson says is the most salient feature of gun violence: “With its particular lethality, a gun converts a spat into a slaying and a quarrel into a killing.”

Does it really matter if the gun is used intentionally or not? To quote the novelist Walter Mosley, “If you walk around with a gun it will go off sooner or later.”

Physicians Shouldn’t Be Concerned About Gun ‘Rights.’

Now that the Republican Party has decided the Affordable Care Act will simply ‘implode’ without their help, stories are appearing about out how the majority party in both Houses of Congress and also sitting behind the HMS Resolute desk in the Oval Office couldn’t get it done. This morning David Leonhardt, an op-ed writer for The New York Times, penned a piece in which he celebrated the efforts of a wide swath of citizens who were the activists behind the Republican legislative demise. And one of the groups he singled out for praise were physicians, whose professional organizations really stood up and helped lead the fight.

docs versus glocks             The idea of doctors being politically in a partisan way is a relatively new thing. Referring to a public statement by the chief of Mass General Hospital decrying Trump’s attack on transgender military troops, a primary care doctor at Mass General said it like this: “Traditionally, health professionals have not commented so boldly on the actions of politicians.” She then went on to say that, “many of the most critical current threats to our health — including poverty, lack of access to affordable health care, gun violence, the opioid epidemic — cannot be eliminated by individuals, no matter how well-meaning.”

I have no expertise in affordable health care or opioids, but I do know a little something about guns. And I have been watching and helping physicians deal with gun violence on the individual, i.e., clinical level for a number of years. And what concerns me about the medical approach to gun violence is that, unfortunately, it doesn’t appear to be rooted in the elimination of a public health issue which kills and injures 125,000+ people every year. Rather, the medical response to gun violence views the problem as one that needs better controls, which is not the same thing as getting rid of it altogether – not the same thing at all.

Last year the Massachusetts Attorney General and the Massachusetts Medical Society collaborated on the production of informational resources that physicians could utilize to become better informed on how to talk to patients about guns. Here’s what is suggested as an approach for counseling patients on gun risks:

Meet patients where they are. Where there is a risk, see if you can brainstorm harm-reduction measures with the patient, as opposed to prescribing one specific solution. For example, rather than advising a patient to get rid of a gun, you could suggest that there are a number of different ways to make guns less accessible, ranging from selling/surrendering the gun, to disposing of ammunition, to temporarily storing the gun outside the home.

 

This statement embodies what one of the most noted physician researchers, Dr. Garen Wintemute (along with several colleagues) suggested was the proper way for physicians to engage in gun discussions, based on the idea that “conversations should acknowledge local cultural norms,” with the desired outcome being “firearms are stored unloaded and locked, with ammunition stored separately.”

So the bottom line is that the new-found, public advocacy by physicians about gun violence should occur within certain, self-imposed constraints, the chief one being that doctors, unless there is an immediate and verifiable risk, should find ways to communicate with gun-owning patients which avoids the basic issue, namely, that guns, no matter how safely stored, are a serious risk to health. Period. End of story. Enough is really enough.

We have made remarkable strides in reducing smoking, another clear health risk. According to the CDC, the percentage of adult smokers is now less than 20%, when I was a kid, everyone smoked. This didn’t happen because doctors told patients that perhaps they should smoke less. It happened because no physician would ever dare tell a patient that smoking is anything other than a clear threat to health.

You think guns are any different? If someone wants to be ‘safe’ with their guns, they can always take one of those phony safety courses offered by the NRA. Physicians shouldn’t be promoting the idea that a gun isn’t harmful to health.

 

Are Guns Weapons Of Mass Destruction? Yep – They Sure Are.

The good news out of Florida is that the 2017 NRA legislative agenda for the Gunshine State appears to be dead.  The bills, which would have legalized open carry in most public locations, along with concealed-carry in airports and college campuses, didn’t make the calendar of the State Senate Judiciary Committee, which means they will not be reviewed by the committee during the 2017 session, which means their sponsor, Greg Steube, will have to re-introduce the bills again next year.

florida logo1             Incidentally, if the gun violence prevention (GVP) community would ever give an award to the dumbest, piece of pro-gun legislation introduced in any state legislature each year, Senator Steube would win the contest hands down. Because in addition to the bills mentioned above, he also tried to put in a bill that would allow someone who was shot in a public premise which had a gun-free policy to sue the owner of that location for making the shooting victim vulnerable because he couldn’t protect himself with a gun.

The GVP community and its Congressional allies have been attempting, without success, to pass legislation at the federal level that would take away the PLCAA immunity which gun makers use to avoid being sued when someone is shot with a particular gun maker’s gun. Steube’s dumbness whopper was something of a response to the attacks on PLCAA and had it passed muster in Florida, it would no doubt have begun to spring up in other states. Know how crazy things like Ronald Reagan and Half-and-Half started in California and moved East? When it comes to crazy, pro-gun laws, they start in Florida and then spread everywhere else.

Maybe the rational-minded members of the Florida legislature decided this year, particularly after the massacre at the Pulse and the airport shooting in Orlando that enough is enough. Or maybe the NRA lobbyist, Granny Hammer, has just been a busybody for too long. But whatever the reason(s), this year Florida decided that it was no-go for any extension of gun ‘rights.’ Which brings me to the point of this column, namely, the idea that being able to do whatever in hell you want to do with a gun is considered by Gun-nut Nation to be some kind of ‘right.’

According to the Heller and McDonald decisions, the only ‘right’ contained in the Constitution’s 2nd Amendment is the ‘right’ to keep a loaded, unlocked gun in your home for self-defense.  That’s it. Period. End of story. Pro-gun advocates can twist this one around all they want, and in fact many states and localities have approved laws which go far beyond the 2nd Amendment in terms what gun owners can do with their guns – carry them outside the home, carry them openly, sell them, trade them, whatever they want. But none of those activities represent any kind of Constitutional ‘right.’  And I really wish that the GVP community would react with a louder and more aggressive response whenever the issue of ‘rights’ rears its ugly and completely false head.

Know what I think guns represent? I think they should be considered and explicitly referred to as ‘weapons of mass destruction,’ or would you rather continue to believe that a particular product which causes more than 120,000 serious deaths and injuries each year isn’t a WMD?  Last week credible news reports put the human toll from the gas attack in Syria at 70, with another 100 people treated in hospitals near where the attack took place.  Know how many Americans are killed and wounded by guns every weekend each year?  Try 450 and I’m probably off by a hundred or more.

I really don’t think this kind of violence and loss of human life has anything to do with ‘rights,’ There’s nothing in the Constitution which allows it, and it appears that at least some members of the Florida legislature understand what the Constitution says and doesn’t say.