Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Thoughts from a Doc WITH a Glock

I received this bit of news
In my inbox from my professional society last week, regarding the recent "Docs vs Glocks" ruling in Florida.

I've commented on this issue many times in many posts, but I'm finding it necessary to do it again. One previous rant can be found here.

If you read the article that showed up in my inbox, you'll notice that the AAP keeps painting itself as the wounded party...

"The Academy continues to advise its members in Florida and throughout the United States to uphold the standard of medical practice and ask about the presence of guns in the environments of children, and counsel families in their care about the importance of storing guns safely.

“Practicing gun safety saves children’s lives,” said AAP President Sandra G. Hassink, M.D., FAAP. “The important message is that pediatricians in Florida continue to fight to protect children. Asking appropriate questions about guns in the home is good medicine.”"

The problem with this lofty claim is that it is largely untrue. 

The claimed "standard of medical practice" exists solely in the minds of politically motivated medical societies, as I've ranted about here.

Their position on asking about firearms is even inconsistent within their own guidelines about other safety issues. There are no questions about backyard pools before counseling about water safety. There are no questions about the presence of bicycles or ATVs before counseling about helmets, either. Therefore, if their goal is truly ONLY safety, then they don't need to ask about firearms either.

I am no fan of having my speech censored during a patient interaction, but the AAP and its sister societies have brought it upon themselves by their own policy statements.

The AAP's position on firearms reads........

"In 2012, the Academy reaffirmed its commitment to advocating for the strongest possible firearm 
regulations. The absence of guns in homes and communities is the most reliable and effective 
measure to prevent firearm-related injuries in children and adolescents. The AAP supports a number of specific measures to reduce the destructive effects of guns in the lives of children and adolescents, including the regulation of the manufacture, sale, purchase, ownership, and use of firearms; a ban assault weapons; and expanded regulations of handguns for civilian use. To prevent gun-related death and injuries, the AAP recommends that pediatricians provide firearm safety counseling to patients and their parents."

With a public position like that, can you blame Floridians for not trusting that their physicians are ONLY interested in their children's safety and NOT in pushing a thinly-disguised political agenda? Especially when the results of that questioning are being recorded in the medical record?

American medicine has done a miraculous job the past fifty years of saving children from the infectious diseases that were the scourge of previous generations. It's been such a good job, that academic pediatricians have had to cast about to find something else to focus on. For some reason the AAP latched on to guns - despite the fact that rates of firearms accidents involving children have been dropping for decades. AND that decline has occurred WITHOUT the "good medicine" of the AAP.  That decline is due largely to educational efforts by the NRA and the NSSF  - not any of the medical societies who claim that "gun safety" is their business.

Now, to make myself clear, I am NOT claiming that teaching gun safety to families and children doesn't need to happen - it most surely does. If you've read this blog in the past, you will know that I stand strongly for educating families about this issue. But for medical societies like the AAP to claim it is THEIR role to do so is laughable. I know a LOT of pediatricians, and I can count on one hand the number who would be able to competently deliver factual firearms safety information

In an attempt to support their inaccurate claims about their role, The AAP cites statistics about the number of supposed "children" being killed by guns every year. This is a data-padding smokescreen. The AAP and various anti-gun organizations love to include "children" even up through age 20 or more in their "gun violence" data. Now, last time I looked, actual children are not permitted to drive, or to vote, or serve in the armed forces. Yet it is young adult "children" like these - involved in criminal and gang activity, and also suicides - which comprise the lion's share of the data that is breathlessly put forth amongst pleas to "protect the children". To put this in perspective, 18 year old Michael Brown counted as a "child death by gun violence" by their reckoning.  This mislabeled data is presented so as to make it look as if preschoolers are dropping like flies. It is a practice which is both emotionally manipulative and intellectually dishonest.

You can search the data for yourself, and tag it out by age group, method of injury, intentional or non-intentional, homicide, law enforcement action, etc if you don't believe me.

This is not to say that deaths of young adults - even when they kill each other over turf or drugs - are not tragic. They ARE tragic, But the situation falls under the purview of law enforcement and the justice system, NOT Pediatrics. It may even fall to social scientists to figure out what leads these young, largely male, adults to do what they do, but it is STILL not Pediatrics. And it is most certainly not Public Health.

The AAP would be more convincing to me with their claims of providing safety information if they actually handed out NSSF pamphlets in the office.

Or how about a loop of Eddie Eagle videos in the waiting room?

Yeah, I'm not going to hold my breath.

1 comment:

  1. I love your suggestions of Eddie Eagle and NSSF pamphlets - that's true education about firearms. The vast majority of medical professionals I've worked with over almost thirty years have absolutely no business talking about gun safety - those who are ignorant on a subject should not promote themselves as experts. How on earth did that happen in the first place? Since when did experts in human health and disease become so elevated in our society that we automatically consider them experts in everything?