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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Gun-Hysteria of Our Medical Societies

Unless you've been living under a rock or have been on an extended vacation recently, you've likely heard about the recent statement by various medical societies regarding firearms in the United States.


There is so much ignorance and lack of scientific rigor here that I really don't even know where to begin.

Let's take the passage on "assault weapons" as an example.

"... Although evidence to document the effectiveness of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 on the reduction of overall firearm-related injuries and deaths is limited, our organizations believe that a common-sense approach compels restrictions for civilian use on the manufacture and sale of large-capacity magazines and firearms with features designed to increase their rapid and extended killing capacity. It seems that such restrictions could only reduce the risk for casualties associated with mass shootings."

In other words, they are claiming that although the data says that the 1994 ban had little or no effect on violence, they still think it's a good idea. Really. Nothing like a completely evidence-free stance by supposed scientists. I'm so glad that these people are in charge of the nation's health, and my professional accreditation.

Then, there is the inclusion of the infamous "40% statistic" in the passage on background checks.

"... Background checks clearly help to keep firearms out of the hands of persons at risk for using them to harm themselves or others. However, 40% of firearm transfers take place through means other than a licensed dealer; as a result, an estimated 6.6 million firearms are sold annually with no background checks (24)"

Problem is, the Washington Post gave the president Three Pinocchios when he quoted the same flawed and dated study. 

One would think that a collection of highly educated and scientifically oriented professionals could come up with better supporting data than that.

And let's talk about about the "Gag Law" passage.

"... When appropriate, physicians can intervene with patients who are at risk for injuring themselves or others due to firearm access. To do so, physicians must be allowed to speak freely to their patients in a nonjudgmental manner about firearms, provide patients with factual information about firearms relevant to their health and the health of those around them, fully answer their patients' questions, and advise them on the course of behaviors that promote health and safety without fear of liability or penalty..."

Now, I am no fan of the government muzzling me during my patient interactions, but this passage is a pile of hooey. The "speaking ... in a nonjudgemental manner" is the first lie. You know how that conversation is going to go, just from the tone of the prior quotes. The part about providing "factual information about firearms" is the next lie. The very people who penned this position statement don't know squat about firearms. What makes them think that their underlings or the average Joe or Josie in the trenches of healthcare has any more expertise than they do? It's laughable. I personally have had some good office conversations with people while I talked about the Eddie Eagle Rules, and I've even shown a kid or two phone video of me shooting a 3-Gun stage, but docs like me are in a micro-minority. It is fantasy to think that "factual information" will be given out by people who don't know a compensator from a magwell. It's actually worse than fantasy - it's a lie.

I have said time and again, that demonizing an inanimate object is much easier than changing human behavior, which is why these groups seem intent on making what should be a law enforcement and criminal justice issue, a "Public Health" issue instead. People use public health all the time as a guise for demonizing everything from transfats to Big Gulps, and their tool of choice is not behavior change - it's legislation.
It's even in the position statement referenced above,

"We are committed to working with all stakeholders to find effective solutions through reasonable regulation ... "

Yup - they don't want to educate or change behavior, they only want laws. Talk about letting your hysterics contaminate your science.

I have a particular problem with the use of the very specific phrase "gun violence". Why use that particular terminology over simply "violence"? Is there any evidence (besides a political agenda) which indicates that violence committed with a firearm has any different root causes than violence committed with fists or baseball bats or hammers? If there is, please show me the data. If there isn't, then please do actual studies on actual behavior and motivation toward violence independent of the tool used, and then get back to me.

I also want "public health" advocates, to please get their thumbs off the scale and stop showing me stats which include 18 and 19 year old gangbangers as "child deaths by gun violence". If an adolescent is old enough to pull a trigger during criminal activity, then he or she is NOT a child, and classifying them as such is intellectually dishonest. It is also worth noting that violent teen criminals are often tried as adults. 

Suicides are another way these advocates pad the data. As tragic as suicides are, these data should have an entirely different classification, because the causes and motivations would obviously be completely different than those for "violence". And if you don't have that data, then there is your new goal - study THAT.

As if all of that intellectual dishonesty, bad science, and data padding weren't enough,  the actual money shot is right here:

The National Institute of Justice 
has said,
 "Gun-related homicide is most prevalent among gangs and during the commission of felony crimes." 


"Most violent gun crime, especially homicide, occurs in cities and urban communities."


"A study of persons arrested for a wide range of crimes showed that a higher percentage of arrestees than regular citizens own firearms. Arrestees are also more likely to be injured or killed by gun violence. Within a community, this amounts to an identifiable group of “career” offenders."

"Surveys of offenders have found that they prefer newer, high-quality guns and may steal or borrow them; most, however, acquire guns “off the street” through the illicit gun market."

So there you go. For the majority of Americans, "gun violence" is a non-problem. If all of this is true, ( and the NIJ has the data to back it up, unlike the above mentioned medical societies), then tell me WHY the medical community wants to make this a "public health" issue, instead of leaving it where it belongs - under the purview of the criminal justice system?

When one considers this data already collected by the Justice Department - that the majority of "gun violence" is committed by a small subset of the population, in limited areas of the country, using firearms that are largely obtained illegally - then advocating by medical professionals for the banning and control of firearms for the general law-abiding population is not only unsupported by data, it is biased, histrionic, and decidedly unscientific. 

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