We recently bestowed our Gun Hero of the Day award to health care consultant Vikram Khanna [not shown]. We did so after reading his defense of armed self-defense at thehealthcareblog.com. Apparently we weren’t the only ones reading his work. Dr. Art Caplan [above] fired off a riposte, published in the same journal under the headline What is it With Gun Rights Proponents? “Vik Khanna is the latest man with a gun to write squealing in terror before the kale crunching, fitbit wearing hordes of public health types who he is somehow sure are out to disarm him and, even more hilariously, have any chance of doing so.” Snide much? Oh yeah, Caplan’s got that down to a fine art . . .
Vik, buddy, no one and especially the roughly 28 folks in public health not completely distracted by their lack of funding and inability to secure tenure is capable of doing anything that will pry your gun from your warm-blooded grip. There is no political movement to take away anyone’s guns. The NRA is the mightiest lobbying outfit in these United States and the best Mike Bloomberg or Bill Gates are going to be able to do is to get the anti-gun lobby a few more op-eds and soundbites.
Vik stop being afraid of your critics. You hold all the bullets er … cards. Time to think harder. Do public health folks have anything to offer that might reduce the mayhem while letting you hunt deer or shoot partridge or blast targets or whatever it is you and your son like to do with your guns?
Dr. Caplan goes on to give his Rx for firearms-concerned physicians: convince gun-owning patients to lock up their guns and wear hi-viz clothing while hunting, support smart guns, teach people to de-gun the house if someone’s mentally ill and train kids what to do if they find a gun. Not entirely unreasonable. Only Caplan’s rant doesn’t answer the questions posed by Khanna. And it sure ain’t coming from a place of love.
I could go on but I have to walk out to my Prius so I can go to the store and buy some gluten-free pasta to feed a few of my public health pals before we do our evening Bikram yoga. I won’t be seeing you at the shooting-range. There are too many kids gripping Uzis there for my comfort. Oops Sorry. Didn’t mean to make you think I was gonna try and restrict any 9-year-olds right to fire automatic weapons.
Mr. Khanna emailed TTAG to ask for some support from our readers in the comments section [click here]. But I don’t think he needs it. Here’s his reply from said comments section.
Charles Vacca’s death was a tragedy that deeply affected two families. His judgment error, allowing a 9-year-old girl to fire an automatic weapon, cost him his life and who knows what it will cost her and her family emotionally and psychologically. No one knows yet how his death will change practices at gun ranges. While I wish Mr. Vacca had made a different decision at the range on that day, I credit him for the kind of family he raised. His kids have sent the girl a video letter talking about how they grieve for her, which makes for a stark contrast to this remarkably churlish use of the event as a point of derision.
I thank Art for reiterating all my points about the critical role education plays in gun safety. I will go a step farther than he does — the ministers Art points to, many of whom likely lead congregations in poor, urban communities that are predominantly minority and plagued by violence — should also spend some time talking about the value of intact families, creating a community culture that rewards and venerates work, and helping young people finish school to boost their economic viability. Oh, the schools stink? Well, then expand the dialogue about charter schools, magnet schools, and school choice.
I’ll wager anytime all those things will do much more to alter the environmental dynamics that drive criminal gun violence than the playschool policymaking of assault weapons bans and similar legislative detritus that clog already dysfunctional state houses and the Congress. Maryland banned so-called Saturday Night Specials in 1988, and 26 years later Baltimore remains one of our most unsafe cities. Ironically, the day after my essay, the lordly NY Times published an essay acknowledging that the assault weapons ban amounted to nothing.
The essay ended with this observation by crime prevention expert David Kennedy of John Jay College: “A closer look at the social networks of neighborhoods most afflicted, he says, often shows that only a small number of men drive most of the violence. Identify them and change their behavior, and it’s possible to have an immediate impact.”
Regarding keeping firearms out of the hands of the mentally ill, I will speak directly from experience. My father was deeply mentally ill, so much so that he was effectively dysfunctional and completely socially isolated from the time I was 7, until his death 30 years later. He had suicidal ideation. And, although part of a long line of military officers, he did not own firearms.
I am quite certain that my mother would have never allowed one in our home because she understood full well what she was dealing with. Should we raise awareness of this dilemma? Absolutely, but it must be done in a way that it is medically credible and respects the privacy and dignity of the people who need help while protecting the rest of us.
Unfortunately, some of these steps will, by necessity, require government participation, and recent experience suggest we should tread lightly. Let’s not forget this administration’s hallmark firearms achievement, Fast and Furious, which released 2,000 weapons, many already used in crimes, into the hands of criminals.
And, just this week, we are treated to the news that the Obama administration is sending armored vehicles, military rifles, and grenade launchers to school districts…who don’t want them, can’t secure them, and did not ask for them in the first place.
As farmer Hoggett said, that’ll do.