St. Louis Docs’ Open Letter: Guns Are a Pediatric Issue

 Dr. David Jaffe (courtesy news.wstl.edu)

We are writing today as pediatric emergency and trauma physicians to share our concern about the epidemic of gun violence that threatens the safety, health, and well-being of our children in St. Louis and in the United States . . .

Since 2002, St. Louis Children’s Hospital has cared for 771 children injured or killed by gunfire; 35 percent were younger than 15. These include the recent 12-year-old boy accidentally killed by his friend when playing with his grandfather’s pistol kept under his pillow, the 2-year-old boy paralyzed when his father accidentally discharged his gun during loading, the 5-year-old girl caught in a cross-fire as she sat on her front porch, the 10-year-old boy killed by his mother overwhelmed with mental illness, and the 4-year-old boy who found a handgun in a closet at home, placed the barrel into his mouth and pulled the trigger as he had often done to get a drink from his water-pistol. Many of these children died despite the heroic efforts of our highly trained pre-hospital, emergency, surgical and critical care staff.

In 2010, seven American children age 19 and younger were killed every day. This is twice the number of children who die from cancer, five times the number from heart disease, and 15 times the number from infections. This is also the equivalent of 128 Newtown shootings.

It has been estimated at least 38 percent of American households have a gun. In homes with children younger than 18, 22 percent store the gun loaded, 32 percent unlocked, and 8 percent unlocked and loaded. The children in these homes know the gun is present, and many handle the gun in the absence of their parents.

Children who have received gun safety training are just as likely to play with and fire a real gun as children not trained. In one study, 8-to-12-year-old boys were observed via one-way mirror as they played for 15 minutes in a waiting room with a disabled .38 caliber handgun concealed in a desk drawer. Seventy two percent discovered the gun, and 48 percent pulled the trigger; 90 percent of those who handled the gun and/or pulled the trigger had prior gun safety instruction.

Rather than confer protection, careful studies find guns stored in the home are more likely to be involved in an accidental death, homicide by a family member, or suicide than against an intruder. In 2009, suicide was the third leading cause of death for American youth, with firearms the most common method used. The American Academy of Pediatrics has concluded, “The most effective measure to prevent suicide, homicide, and unintentional firearm-related injuries to children and adolescents is the absence of guns from homes and communities.”

We concur with recent recommendations from more than a dozen national pediatric professional organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, Academic Pediatric Association, and the American College of Surgeons in response to the Newtown school shooting. We called for action in three areas: reinstating and revising the ban on assault weapons and large ammunition magazines; improving quality and availability of mental health services; and reducing the exposure our children have to media violence. In addition, we called for increasing research on the relationship of these factors on the epidemic of death and injury to children caused by firearm violence and for ending restrictions to this research imposed by Congress.

We are gratified the plan President Obama recently announced addresses all of these issues. The president called for public support of these initiatives, and we strongly agree. As physicians who care for children and families devastated by gun violence, we know first-hand the importance of taking action that will begin to make the environment in St. Louis safer for our children. It has been done in many other economically advanced countries, and we can do it in the United States.

As Gabrielle Giffords said to Congress: “Too many children are dying. Too many children. We must do something. It will be hard, but the time is now. You must act. Be bold, be courageous. Americans are counting on you.” Our children are counting on us!

Dr. Robert M. Kennedy is an emergency pediatrician at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. Dr. David M. Jaffe [above] is chief of the division of pediatric emergency medicine at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. He is the current president of the Academic Pediatric Association. Dr. Martin S. Keller is director of trauma services at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

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About Robert Farago

Robert Farago is the Publisher of The Truth About Guns (TTAG). He started the site to explore the ethics, morality, business, politics, culture, technology, practice, strategy, dangers and fun of guns.

118 Responses to St. Louis Docs’ Open Letter: Guns Are a Pediatric Issue

  1. avatarKris says:

    Failure of logic. The cited study refers to handguns which can readily be aimed at oneself and fired. These are not being addressed by any proposed laws b/c the courts have already ruled on that. Instead they target scary black rifles of which I haven’t seen any documentation of use for suicide, or child injury.

    • avatarTeutonicTenifer says:

      The funny part is that I’m learning about Dysfunctional Beliefs in class right now.

      Talk about timing.

    • avatarKris says:

      Link to cited paper for boys 8-12. Seeing is believing: what do boys do when they find a real gun?

      1) Firearm safety training was determined by asking the child if they had received training (training ranged from police, to teachers, to family members)

      2) Experimental design was …”At the time they were led into the room, the children were told that they could play with the toys that were placed on the counter. They also were told that they could exit the room at any time if they had any questions or problems. They were not told to explore the room or to open any cabinets.
      Within the examination room, 2 brightly colored plastic water pistols were concealed in 1 drawer. An actual metal .380 caliber semiautomatic handgun was placed in another drawer.”

      3) The study itself is not bad on the whole, but the use by the pediatricians is misconstrued so as to lead the reader into believing that firearms safety training is worthless and the only recourse is to ban firearms.

  2. avatarTeutonicTenifer says:

    Yes, if we remove all firearms your probability of being killed by your own gun will go down. From incredibly slim to none. Just like how if you removed all motor vehicles your likelihood of dying in a MVC will do down.

    But how can we measure the loss of life caused by the absence of a gun?

    • avatarscottlac says:

      The probablility of being killed by your own gun goes down. What they refuse to understand is that the probability of being killed by someone else’s gun (or knife, ball bat, hammer, brass knuckles, lead pipe, etc) goes up.

      • avatarWilliam says:

        “Refuse to understand” NAILS it. They COULD understand, but there’s an imposed societal imperative which marshalls against mere common sense: “It’s FOR THE CHILDREN!!! You love CHILDREN, DON’T you? Therefore, you will want an utterly unfeasible GUN BAN!”

        Oh! The wringing of soft hands!! OH! The HUMANITY of it all.

        This is the way they intend to neutralize our resistance. We have a TOUGH row to hoe, folks.

        • avatarpat says:

          We will be led into the gas chambe…er…community showers in the childrens name. And we will huff Zyklon-B like the stupid sheeple we are because we heeded men who pee sitting down like the author of this dreck.

      • avatarTeutonicTenifer says:

        Yes, I was deliberate with my wording.

        You have it exactly right.

  3. avatarDirk Diggler says:

    glad none of these dumbasses are my kids’ pediatrician. Again, if they want to claim 19 yr old are “children” then call the friggin’ UN. The USA is using child soldiers in war. The horror. . . . . . .

    Can’t have it both ways – if they can go to war and die for their country, they are not children.

    • avatarTeutonicTenifer says:

      They included 18 and 19 year-old’s because without them the number would probably be closer to one or two. I’d wager that 6 of the 7 deaths are gang-bangers.

      • avatarBruce says:

        TT, your first reply was excellent. Your second, not so much. Why not get facts before you make comments like this? You may be correct, but then you may not be correct. It’s not really helpful.

        • avatarTeutonicTenifer says:

          I’m commenting on an article, not writing it. If my name were in the byline I wouldn’t hypothesize, but until then I’ll make sweeping generalizations.

      • avatardin says:

        but they were turning their lives around, really!

      • avatarMatt in FL says:

        Actually, when you look at the studies, you usually find out that the age range in question goes as high as 21.

    • avatarmountocean says:

      At least they were thoughtful enought to tell us that 35% of their figure was for ages <15.

    • avatarWilliam says:

      True, that.

    • Nick addresses this issue a lot, it’s a pet peave of his. Just as TeutonicTenifer points out, it helps your emotional figures when you misrepresent the age of those defined as children.

  4. avatarKeith says:

    And here we thought the disarmament crowd don’t like numbers.

    What percentage of docs want to live free, with all of the attendant rewards and consequences?

    Freedom-lovers are from Mars, safety-lovers are from Venus. Maybe we really can’t all live together.

  5. avatarCameron S. says:

    They can point out a few random accidents here and there, but I’m guessing the majority of these “children” injured are non-white and gang affiliated.

    You want to stop a massive percentage of “gun deaths” in the USA? Deal with the drug problem in an effective way.

  6. avatarRichard says:

    None of the examples above would have happened if the guns had been secured. Seems like the really smart doctors “overlooked” that little fact in their conclusion.

    • avatarTeutonicTenifer says:

      Didn’t the SCOTUS rule in Heller that it was unconstitutional to require residents to keep firearms locked up because they were then useless for their lawful purpose of self defense?

      • avatarWA_2A says:

        Yes, it is unconstitutional to REQUIRE people to secure their firearms, but it is good to make sure your firearm is secured (unlike an AWB or a mag-cap ban, it could have prevented Sandy Hook). Similar to how, while socialism is bad, donating to charity/working at soup kitchens is good.

      • avatarDaveL says:

        Not everybody thinks “X prevents Y” necessarily implies “X should be legally mandated to prevent Y”. Besides which, I would consider a gun properly holstered on your person to be “secured.”

    • avatarmountocean says:

      Killed in crossfire, sitting on her porch.
      Paralyzed when negligent father was attemping to load weapon.
      Shot my mentally deranged mother.

      Sure none of those would have happened if the gun was secured, but they weren’t safe storage issues, they were usage issues. A gun locked up 100% of the time might as well not exist.

    • avatarOld Ben turning in grave says:

      and none of the problems cited would be solved by banning “assault weapons” either. This is so much like building a careful argument why apples are bad for you (putting aside the deceptive numbers used), then suggesting that you therefore shouldn’t eat oranges

  7. avatarJFP says:

    “In 2010, seven American children age 19 and younger were killed every day.”

    Need a cite doc and does that state just mean deaths by guns or what? How many kids die each day in/by cars?

    Yet another case of a idiot with a MD/PhD with a God complex, thinking they know it all.

    • avatarMikeinid says:

      How many were killed by negligent medical practice? St. Louis is a hell hole, so I won’t wish these socialist tools a trip to the warm place. They are already there. Probably not as punishment. They are part of the landscape, like lesser demons.

    • avatarMatt in FL says:

      Citations would be good, but that number doesn’t sound unreasonable. Yes, they meant gun deaths. They didn’t say so, but based on context you could add “by guns” to that sentence. As far as cars go, well, duh, they’re only going to give examples of things that cause fewer deaths than guns, so as to not detract from their point.

  8. avatarmountocean says:

    And in other news the best way to never fall off a bicycle is to never ride a bicycle.

    I also call BS on those tests with 8-12 years olds in a clinical observation room with a desk full of toys and a revolver in the drawer, the sterile envirnment is no where close to reality.

    • avatarOld Ben turning in grave says:

      If my 11 year old sees a gun, she doesn’t touch it. If she has permission to handle it, she immediately checks to see if it’s loaded without ever touching the trigger or pointing it in an unsafe direction. I don’t think she is unusual for a kid raised in a family that is familiar with firearms (I was the same way). Anecdotal I know, but I call BS too.

      And what exactly is “firearms safety training” in that study? Did it include actually handling and firing a gun? Both my kids got the same treatment my grandfather gave me: After basic instruction and training first with an air rifle and then with a .22, I had them shoot a water melon with a .38 so they can feel and see what a gun does. Gives them a healthy respect very quickly.

  9. avatar16V says:

    In one study, 8-to-12-year-old boys were observed via one-way mirror as they played for 15 minutes in a waiting room with a disabled .38 caliber handgun concealed in a desk drawer. Seventy two percent discovered the gun, and 48 percent pulled the trigger; 90 percent of those who handled the gun and/or pulled the trigger had prior gun safety instruction.

    There’s a cite and a study I want to track down. 8-12? Who instructed this 90% on gun safety, FPSRussia? The NYPD? Charles Manson?

    Were these kids told there was a toy gun in the room and to find it? Why were these kids playing in the desk? Were they told too? This stuff just defies every bit of experience anyone I have ever known has had. Maybe an 8 year old who doesn’t see firearms everyday is a bit sketchy. Maybe. But a 10 year old, let alone a 12 year old? Especially after actual training? Utter nonsense. Were that that study valid, every kid in a home with firearms would kill someone.

    When I was a kid that age, we all owned guns – especially by 12. None of us shot anyone. Accidentally or on purpose. At 8 or 9 even the YMCA summer camp had a rifle range and relentlessly practiced range safety and gun safety.

    • avatarFrank Williams says:

      I’ll bet their “prior gun safety instruction” consisted of showing them a picture of a gun and telling them if they ever see a gun, don’t touch it and get an adult, and maybe lasted 10 minutes. And I’ll also bet that’s ALL the “gun safety instruction” any of them had ever had. Anyone who has ever tried to teach an 8 – 12 year old boy knows it takes a lot more than that to get anything to sink in. Had they been raised to respect guns and taught gun safety all their lives, they wouldn’t have behaved like they did.

      It was like telling a bunch of 8-12 year old boys they shouldn’t look at pictures of naked ladies then leaving them in a room with a copy of Playboy buried in a stack of magazines. What else would you expect them to do when they find it?

    • avatarmountocean says:

      Every kid is taught from age five that doctors can be trusted and can do things other adults can’t, that hospitals (and other laboratories) are safe, that baskets (or desks) full of toys in waiting rooms are for them to look through. I saw some footage from one of these tests on a news show years ago and it was about as unrealistic as you can get.
      Put me in a room with two buttons, one says nuclear battery release and the other says free cookie. You can bet your ass I’ll launch the missiles after a few cookies because there is no way the missile button is real. I bet most of those kids knew good and well they were in a controlled environment and they couldn’t hurt themselves if they tried.

    • I would ask rather “what is wrong with our society when such a high percentage of boys opt to search through the closed drawers of a doctor’s desk when no one is in the room?”

    • avatarDr. Sheets says:

      See my post below with citation info.

      Safety instruction constituted child reported receiving instruction varying from Police, teachers to family members.

      While I see no fault in the paper for its intentions, trying to determine boyhood behavior. I see plenty of fault of pediatricians trying to cite this and construe it as firearm safety training is a failure with boys aged 8-12 and thus shouldn’t be considered. Instead they argue to ban guns that aren’t even cited in the paper.

      • avatar16V says:

        The paper is a frakkin’ joke.

        The boys who were “given firearms instruction” were to bring a “sibling or playmate”.

        There’s no statement of fact about their training. Nor any statement in the “conclusion” about who of the “group” actually pulled the trigger. Which makes it ALL completely unscientific.

        Talk about sub-junk science. My dog craps stuff more valid than this. This is a “study” that my HS teachers would have smacked me in the head for.

  10. avatardin says:

    771 in ten years sucks, sure, but it’s not an epidemic. Not even if the statistic were comprised solely of deaths, not a mixture of death and injury. Sorry your hospital is in a shitty part of town, docs, but pulls your heads out and enjoy some fresh air.

  11. avatarMr aNINNYmouse says:

    At which hospitals do these altruist saints work?

    I bet it’s in those serving the most well-to-do areas of St. Louis….

    Of course, even if they do not, Level 1 Trauma centers are usually not located at community hospitals serving the most affluent. They tend to be at academic hospitals sometimes located near the worst parts of town. But even if they are in the ritziest parts of town, patients will still be transferred there from other hospitals if need be.

    • avatarDirk Diggler says:

      The hospital attributed to these geniuses is St Louis Children’s. It is just inside the city limits and is a Level 1 trauma next door to two other hospitals where all of the gunshot victims are brought. It is on the edge of Forest Park. There are some nice homes nearby, but like any major city area, there are elements that detract from said nice homes.

      I am very confident that their experience with “guns” relates to the sweet Utes that come in after jacking someone and getting a surprise instead.

      • avatar16V says:

        …there are elements that detract from said nice homes.

        Yes, the house next door. Or, at best, the next block over.

      • avatarWilliam says:

        “…there are elements that detract from said nice homes.”

        How UNFORTUNATE we have to live amongst those less fortunate. Aren’t there RESERVATIONS or something we can send them to?

        • avatar16V says:

          If by “less fortunate” you mean rather willing to kill you over your wallet. Or the far more likely, shoot each other over a drug deal gone wrong. Or whether there’s pork chops or pork steaks on the grill. (Really.)

          Even in North STL, the locus for all the juicy stats about murder is still mostly made up of employed working-poorish folks. Nobody has a problem with them. They don’t rob you, they take care of their homes, and most are actually quite nice.

          The other folks who populate the area are not quite so Dickensian.

  12. avatarLance says:

    How does a AWB stop a accidental gun death?? Shows these doctors lack brain power lucky I dont send any one too them they die from the stupidity before a malpractice.

  13. avatarIn Memphis says:

    Man I gatta sue all of my instructors for aiding me in mal-practice. All these years I have been treating 19 year olds as adults, Im screwed. No wonder the big people hospitals get mad when I wheel 19 year olds in.

    • avatarGyufygy says:

      You, the military, the pornography industry…

    • avatarPeter says:

      The author admits that only 35% are under 15, so in my mind it is safe to assume that the majority of the balance are gang bangers.

      Be that as it may, there is no basis in fact to ban those really scary looking black rifles based on death of children. According to the FBI, only ~300 children (age limit unknown) are killed by rifles of all kinds (scary looking and not scary looking) per year. However, more than 900 children (age limit unknown) drown in backyard swimming pools each year.

      How can we even begin to look at restricting rifle ownership when swimming pools are 3x as deadly? Why does anyone NEED a swimming pool? Unlike guns, swimming pools are not even mentioned in the Constitution. Until we can address the scourge of swimming pools we have no business addressing really scary looking black rifles.

  14. avatarWA_2A says:

    “Think of the children.” Well, I’ve never heard that argument before…

    Is THIS is a “pediatric issue”?

    http://gunssavelives.net/self-defense/video/son-uses-dads-ar-15-to-defend-home/#

    One more thing: similar to “Demand a Plan” or “the NRA doesn’t represent me,” this letter does not explain how ANY of the gun control measures being presented right now will solve this problem.

    • avatarWilliam says:

      DEMAND A BODYGUARD. If it’s not a constitutional right, shouldn’t it be?

      After, Congresscritters have them.

  15. avatarPascal says:

    ….according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) about 300+ children a year drown in their bathtubs EVERY YEAR. Please ban these assault bathtubs now!

    According to NHTSA

    “Kids getting backed over by cars is an all too common cause of injuries and death for younger children. In fact, about 1 child a week* dies in the United States when they are accidentally backed over by the family car or SUV, often in their own driveway.”

    Ban all assault SUV’s now!

    Too me, many of the cases stated in blog post and the ones I mention above are all from negligence, carelessness, lack of education or just plain stupid.

    You will not be able to save every life because you cannot fix stupid. Firearms are the fashion of the day to blame, but banning guns will not stop stupid from happening! In fact, none of the proposals will solve the problems this doctor is trying to solve. Even NHTSA, whom I mention above, said that adding backup camera’s on every SUV will save “zero” lives but will add costs but….guess what is happening in 2014 anyway?

    Feel good laws do nothing! Wasted energy and limited resources wasted on the wrong solutions!

  16. avatarWill McG says:

    In 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) reported 2,512,873 deaths in the United States from all causes (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Vital Statistics Reports, October 10, 2012, Volume 61, No. 6, Table 2 at pp. 39-42.) HHS reported the leading cause of death in the United States was major cardiovascular diseases, recording 778,503 deaths. Malignant neoplasms (cancer) accounted for 575,313 deaths, and was the second leading cause of death according to HHS.

    According to HHS’ statistics, in 2011 there were 122,777 accidental deaths in the United States. Of the total 122,777 accidental deaths, HHS attributed 34,677 deaths to motor vehicle accidents, 33,554 deaths due to poisoning and exposure to noxious substances, and 26,631 deaths due to falls. In contrast, HHS reported only 851 deaths due to the accidental discharge of firearms.

    HHS reported that in 2011 that there were 40,239 drug-induced deaths and 26,256 alcohol induced deaths.

    According to HHS, in 2011 there were 38,285 deaths attributed to intentional self-harm (suicide), of which 19,766 were caused by the discharge of firearms. For the same time frame, HHS reported 15,953 homicides, and attributed 11,101 of these homicides to “discharge of firearms”. HHS attributed 258 firearms related deaths to “legal intervention”.

    HHS statistics suggest the following:

    (1) a person is 3 times more likely to be killed in a traffic accident, 3 times more likely to be accidentally poisoned, and 2 times more likely to die from a fall, than to be the victim of a firearm related homicide;

    (2) drug and alcohol induced deaths account for more than 6 times the number of firearms related homicides; (66,765 vs. 11,101);

    (3) slightly more than half of all suicides (51.6%) reported by HHS are accomplished with a firearm, while the remaining 18,519 suicides were attributed to other lethal means, showing the willingness or purpose to take one’s own life would always overcome any lack of access to a firearm;

    (4) accidental deaths attributed to firearms is less that 1% of all accidental deaths; and

    (5) the number of all firearms related deaths is statistically insignificant to the number of deaths attributed to heart disease and cancer.

    • avatarWilliam says:

      2.5 MILLION in one year? That seems a little high. How many were due to old age, or other natural causes? That’s close to a 1% death rate. Maybe that’s right. It kind of took me aback….

  17. avatarJC says:

    Apart from the obvious bent, and misinformation one stands out as particularly ignorant. He wrote, “We are gratified the plan President Obama recently announced addresses all of these issues.” Umm, how exactly is that the case. President Obama’s plan says nothing of handguns. I would ask this “genius” how many childhood accidents or suicides involved “Assault Weapons” or more than ten bullets? I am going to bet the number is awfully close to zero. I sure hope I never have this guy as my doctor, he doesn’t seem very intelligent.

  18. avatarFrank Williams says:

    Too bad they didn’t cite references to lend some credence to all those statistics they’re tossing about. Instead they used weasel word phrasing like “it has been estimated” and “careful studies find.” Either they were too lazy to document their assertions (maybe because they couldn’t stand up to close scrutiny or were taken totally out of context), or they just pulled them out of their nearest bodily orifice. I’m kind of leaning toward the latter.

  19. avatarTotenglocke says:

    We are writing today as pediatric emergency and trauma physicians to share our concern about the epidemic of gun violence that threatens the safety, health, and well-being of our children in St. Louis and in the United States . . .

    Yup, having over a 50% decrease in murders over a 20 year time period and having our lowest murder rate in 50 years is a serious epidemic. Something needs to be done about this decreasing murder rate! If we don’t have as many people being attacked, how am I going to keep making $400,000 a year in the ER?!?!

    • avatarStacy says:

      Good catch. The only thing there’s an epidemic of, is breathless news coverage of any shooting that does happen. Actual shootings have gone way down in the last few decades.

      Scientifically trained people such as doctors should know that.

  20. avatarAccur81 says:

    Compare 771 deaths and injuries to 260 million plus murders at the hands of government between 1900-2000. If history doesn’t show you that government requires checks and balances, then you are not paying attention.

    http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/20TH.HTM

  21. avatarChas says:

    Wonder how they figure in all the thousands or even millions of households where there is one or more firearm and no one has ever been shot by accident?

    And if what they are saying is true, shouldn’t we be hearing about a lot more negligent shootings, as in multiple shootings every single day?

    • avatarJMS says:

      The estimate I have most often seen is that nearly half (45-50%) of U.S. households have a firearm. The fact is, they are not that dangerous. They are less dangerous relative to bath tubs, ladders, pools, household chemicals, and other things that most people do not worry about but kill FAR more people — and far more children — every year than firearms do. Yes, it’s tragic when anybody dies due to a gun accident. NO!, it is not more tragic than when somebody dies due to any other accidental means! It just isn’t political and sexy. A boy drowns in the pool at his home and it barely makes local news. A boy accidently shoots himself and it’s all over the national media for a week.

      We see the same thing when people discuss murder rates decreasing after gun bans. What they mean is that gun murder rates decrease. Total murder rates do NOT decrease. Sometimes they even increase. But they don’t care. All they care about is less gun-caused murders and gun-related violence. In the UK, as we all know, the violent crime rate shot up after the sweeping gun bans. But gun-crime went down. So it’s a complete success according to all of those who are anti-gun. They are obsessed. Nothing matters besides guns. It has nothing to do with overall public safety. Just government safety — taking power away from the populace. Let them kill themselves. Who cares? Just as long as they don’t do it with powerful enough tools that they could affect the government itself.

  22. avatarBruce says:

    I can understand why medical people who deal with gun trauma would be against guns. I understand why victims of gun crimes, like the Giffords, would be against guns. Perhaps that’s why judges and juries are not allowed to be connected to a crime before they rule on it.

    • avatarChas says:

      I don’t. Are people who are victims of car accidents against cars?

      • avatarmountocean says:

        I’ve known two victims of car accidents that were unreasonably afraid of cars, one didn’t drive, the other only very slowly. I do not concider them credible on any topic related to highway safety, risk mangment, or automobiles. Like Bruce said, this is why a reasonable society would recuse anyone with such a history from serious decision making.

      • avatarWilliam says:

        +10

        I’ve told the tale of a friend who died about 8 years ago. His father shot himself to death, so he was viole… er, adamently, anti-gun. I always wanted to ask him if his dad had put a hose to the car’s exhaust pipe, would he have been against cars. But sometimes it’s just better to keep your mouth shut.

        • avatarJMS says:

          I understand it as well. If I worked a job where all day, every day, all I saw where people coming in injured and dying from car crashes, my feelings on cars would shift. Same if I were an ER doctor and most of my time was spent trying to save people with gunshot wounds.

          It’s easy to become cynical. I have a close friend who was a police officer for a few years but transferred to being a “community service officer” (mostly taking vehicle accident reports). He did not like that his only exposure to people was to bad people. If all day, every day you deal with the bad elements of society, your views on society start becoming pretty bleak and cynical. He didn’t like that feeling, so he changed his role. I completely understand this.

  23. avatarKCK says:

    A truly sad litany about needless child deaths.
    Not unlike an earlier article that discussed injuries to children unrestrained in car crashes. He thought the solution for that was manditory whooping cough vaccinations.

    Not being able to own a 30 rnd mag will make the irresponsable adults in these childrens lives become responsible. Now I get it! Aren’t we all stupid!

  24. avatarStacy says:

    As night follows day, this will become just cause in the mind of some half-educated social worker in the countryside to remove children from the home of an annoying redneck who won’t shut up about that Constitution thing.

  25. avatarDr. Sheets says:

    1) here is the paper referred to about 8-12 year old boys…
    Pediatrics. 2001 Jun;107(6):1247-50.
    Seeing is believing: what do boys do when they find a real gun?
    Jackman GA, Farah MM, Kellermann AL, Simon HK.

    2) Here is an excerpt from the above cited paper describing the gun safety education. “Twenty-eight of the 30 boys (93%) who handled the gun and 15 of 16 (94%) who pulled the trigger reported that they had previously received some sort of gun safety instruction. The nature of the safety instruction taught to the boys varied from police officers to teachers to informal instruction by family members”

    3) And here is the experimental design from paper cited in #1
    “At the time they were led into the room, the children were told that they could play with the toys that were placed on the counter. They also were told that they could exit the room at any time if they had any questions or problems. They were not told to explore the room or to open any cabinets.
    Within the examination room, 2 brightly colored plastic water pistols were concealed in 1 drawer. An actual metal .380 caliber semiautomatic handgun was placed in another drawer.”

    • avatar16V says:

      Egads, I read that piece of nonsense. Talk about non-peer reviewed tripe. Glenn Beck would be proud.

      My last comment hit the filter, so sorry if this is redundant…

      The boys who were “instructed in firearms” were to bring a playmate or sibling. Nowhere in the conclusion does it state which of the “group” were to have “fired” the gun. Nor does it specify the “training” received by the peer.

      This is joke science that would have gotten me crucified in HS.

  26. Calling all doctors, do the leaders of your organization speak for you?

    I have a feeling this is going to be similar to when we saw a letter from the American Bar Association, and many lawyers spoke up saying their words don’t represent them.

    • avatarJoe says:

      No they don’t ! As a rural pediatrician I fight my peers who have this mindset… But it’s an impossible task… People living in inner cities see guns as bad and not as tools…. No matter how you phrase it

  27. avatarsindaan68 says:

    As soon as the gun haters can frame this as a public health issue we are f’d. You’ll give up every gun you own if threatened by the state with taking your children. Despicable as any of these other tactics but a clever one to be sure.

    The america of personal responsibility ended about the same time as radiator fan boxes came with a warning about not sticking you hand in the running fan…..

    • avatarWilliam says:

      My child is grown. There will be killing if they come to take mine. One of them will be me. Our nation’s future demands we take the ultimate stand.

      Our children’s and grandchildren’s future demands this also.

    • avatarOld Ben turning in grave says:

      Well, it could also be shown that more lives are saved by DGU than are lost by accident. Then, by the same logic, framing it as a public health issue would lead to the conclusion that every house should be adequately protected. Of course, that would require them to play by their own rules, which is not in the Saul Alinsky play book.

    • avatardwb says:

      the Violence Policy Center has been trying to frame this as a public health issue since the early 90s. were you asleep during the Clinton years?

    • avatarJarhead1982 says:

      Then spread the disease, its contagious!

  28. avatarShawn says:

    You guys are nuts and this is coming from a gun owner. Instead of bashing, which takes no intelligence, come up something that makes sense. Like this, instead of banning guns, all guns should be stored in a safe or locked up when children are present or if the family consists of children. BTW, a friend and I have tested our kids with firearms. The kids did not touch the firearm when we tested them by leaving them on the table. They looked at them, knew what they were, and walked away. So my study shows that 100% of kids do not touch firearms. See how easy it is to give false information and this applies to both sides of the argument.

    • avatarOld Ben turning in grave says:

      “…or if the family consists of children.” You mean “includes children?” I do know families that consist of children, but they are not the type that take personal responsibility for their safety.

      Sorry, couldn’t resist.

      Anyway, you make some good points. A firearm should be quickly accessible to all that know how to handle it safely in case the unthinkable occurs, but the tradeoff between quickly available and secure needs serious evaluation if little kids are in the house. I opted to leave my guns at my parents’ house until the kids were old enough to teach, but my living situation was pretty low risk. For those in a higher risk environment, the trade-off might well work out in a different way.

    • avatarSoccerchainsaw says:

      “Instead of bashing, which takes no intelligence, come up something that makes sense. Like this, instead of banning guns, all guns should be stored in a safe or locked up when children are present or if the family consists of children.”
      The devil is in the details. How exactly do you propose enforcing this mandate? You want something that makes sense? How about tax breaks for gun safes and training programs? Don’t should on me and I won’t should on you…..

    • avatarRopingdown says:

      Yep. My view is “what kind of study is that? Who in this world leaves a loaded pistol out of their immediate control but loaded, even without kids around?” It was a study of idiocy. Who wants to come home to a burglar with one’s loaded pistol? Yet we’ve all read the case of the LEO who didn’t lock his safe, after which one young child in the family killed another. The court couldn’t stand to call the LEO’s behavior criminally negligent. I could.

    • avatarConway Redding says:

      This is in response to Shawn, above: Let me point out that the kids also knew you were there watching them. A fairer test might have been to leave the disabled pistol out, but rigged in some undetectable way so that you could tell whether or not anyone had touched it, and then to leave the kids alone in the house with the pistol for 2-3 hours. Then return home and check to see if the pistol has been touched.

  29. avatarRalph says:

    Ralph’s Open Letter: St. Louis Docs Have a Psychiatric Issue. They think they’re Jesus Christ, sent to save us all.

  30. avatarChris McLain says:

    I had to laugh while reading this, a doctor calling for less killing. Doctors kill more people with malpractice than all 12k gun deaths in America! They kill around 90,000 people A YEAR! How many of those do you think are age 19 and under? Yet all this smart doctor wants to point out are gun deaths based on skewed research. If he really cared about saving lives he would put his attention on more pressing matters like preventable MALPRACTICE DEATHS!

    • avatarRopingdown says:

      In the UK, fabled home of the anti-inspiring laws, they send negligent physicians to jail for a few years if their great carelessness results in death. It happened again last week. In the US they just pay a bit more in malpractice rates and go to another conference in Hawaii. Doctor that, pediatricians.

  31. avatardwb says:

    the conclusion of the study is that “Guns that are kept in homes should be stored in a manner that renders them inaccessible to children”

    wow, i wish they had paid ME all that money to come up with that gem of wisdom.

  32. avatarFred says:

    I have to agree with this letter. Gun incidents involving children are terrible and especially distressing. This is a completely new topic we have never considered before. We need to focus on reducing crime and keeping guns from those that do not have the mental capacity or ability to handle guns responsibly. Oh wait, this is the exact same topic we’ve been talking about for years.

    Obama’s plan will do nothing to reduce crime or keep guns out of irresponsible hands, nor will it do anything specifically to protect children. Again you could reduce these incidents, but may remain constant with increased crime, by completely removing guns from homes, but that’s the same flawed logic that has gone around for years.

  33. avatarDJ says:

    I love how he cherry picks the childhood mortality statistics. The number of childhood deaths due to firearms (accidental or intentional (homicide)) is far lower than the number of drownings, deaths due to car accidents, etc. So, the doctor cherry picks a few statistics to make his point, because he can’t paint an objective picture without bringing up questions about why we aren’t pursuing draconian controls on things that aren’t a constitutional right (like having a pool, driving above 55MPH, etc).

  34. avatarbontai Joe says:

    I like math. So there were 771 “children” killed or injured by firearms in 10 years cared for by Children’s hospital in St. Louis. And 35% of those were under age 15. So that means 270 “little” kids were killed or injured in 10 years, or 27 a year. I’d like to know how many were killed and how many were injured? And what percentage were justified shoots, i.e. a 15 year old shot to death or injury by LEO to protect the rest of the citizenry? And how many were shot by what the media calls an assault rifle, so we can calculate how many lives will be saved by banning assault rifles (most likey a small fraction of one kid per year).

  35. avatarMy Name Is Bob says:

    Did the doctors ever notice how many ppl die annually from medical malpractice? Sheesh, these shlubs should stick to what they know!

  36. avatarCSARdiver says:

    Interesting article and an issue I wish we could address; however as the bulk of our time is spent on defending the right to bear firearms, our time spent on the responsibility that comes with that right is diminished.

    For that study to be controlled, the variable to “safety training” needed to be controlled by those issuing the study, not simply questioning parents. My son is five and daughter two, and ever since they could speak I have trained them on what to do if they find gun. The weapons in my home are secured and unloaded with the exception of defensive weapons which are in biometric safes. As we live on a block heavily populated with military and law enforcement, many with small children, the safety basics are stressed and reinforced.

  37. avatarBrian S says:

    I can’t believe I’m the first to see the obvious solution to this epidemic… ban children

  38. avatarJohn Rand says:

    More children die to medical care than guns.. by a rather huge margin. Same is true about parents who kill their kids (accidentally or maliciously)

    Clearly we should ban doctors and parents. If it could save the life of one child, it would be worth it.

  39. avatarBHirsh says:

    And this shoud affect MY right to keep and bear arms, HOW?

    Don’t listen to these bed-wetters. Their priority isn’t your liberty.

  40. avatarDenough says:

    Ok.what I am sick of is their agenda against guns and suicide, no one can take the right from someone to end their life. Guns are one means, no gun no problem, get a rope. They are using suicide to prop up their scary agenda numbers but BS is the liberal way.

  41. avatarAharon says:

    Guns are a dog defense issue. Many innocent dogs are shot by aggressive SWAT and ATF Teams.

  42. avatarT-DOG says:

    Got this in an e-mail a while back. Thought it might be relevant…..

    FACTS TO PONDER :
    (A) The number of physicians in the U.S. is 700,000.
    (B) Accidental deaths caused by Physicians per year are120,000.
    (Calculation) Accidental deaths per physician is 0.171.
    Statistics courtesy of U.S. Dept of Health Human Services
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Now think about this:
    Guns:
    (A) The number of gun owners in the U.S. is 80,000,000.
    (Yes, that’s 80 million..)
    (B) The number of accidental gun death per year, all age groups, is 1,500.
    (Calculation) The number of accidental deaths per gun owner is .000188.
    Statistics courtesy of FBI
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    So, statistically, doctors are approximately 9,000 times more dangerous than gun owners.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Remember, ‘Guns don’t kill people, doctors do.’
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    FACT: NOT EVERYONE HAS A GUN, BUT ALMOST EVERYONE HAS AT LEAST ONE DOCTOR.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Please alert your friends to this alarming threat.
    We must ban doctors before this gets completely out of hand!!!!!
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Out of concern for the public at large, I withheld the statistics on lawyers for fear the shock would cause people to panic and seek medical attention.

  43. avatarConway Redding says:

    Well, the obvious solution to the pediatricians’ concern is to make it impossible for people who have minor children in their homes to own firearms, yes? Perhaps when you go to buy a firearm, the form you fill out should include the question, “Are there any minor children in your residence?,” and if you answer “Yes,” the gun store owner would have to tell you, “Sorry, I can’t sell you a gun.” BTW, for those whose emotions are running so high over the possibility that the current furor over gun control will deprive them of their weapons, that they can no longer recognize sarcasm, please be advised that my suggestion is just that, sarcasm.

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