Mike “The Gun Guy” Weisser writes for huffingtonpost.com. As you might expect from someone who pens for a publication that never met a Mom Demanding Action for Gun Sense in America that it didn’t like, a website that wants all Americans to live in Everytown for Gun Safety, a media outlet that never ceases Brady Campaigning to Stop Gun Violence, Weisser isn’t what you’d call firm on gun rights. It’s a fact we’ve highlighted again and again and again and again. In the past, Mike’s reached out to TTAG to offer us the olive branch. That didn’t work out so well. So now Mike’s thumbing his nose at America’s most popular firearms blog . . .
Doctors Should Tell the Truth About Guns, the HuffPo headline above Weisser’s latest screed proclaims. Despite the fact that we’ve trademarked that phrase, we’ll let it pass (this is the Internet after all). But there’s no mistaking Mike’s malicious (mischievous?) intent. His shot across TTAG’s bow begins thus:
Last week I attended a conference on medicine and gun violence in which a cross-section of researchers and clinicians focused on how to figure out if patients are at risk for gun violence and how to intervene appropriately when such a clinical situation appears to exist. The problem raises medical, legal and ethical issues involving proper patient care, privacy, liability and other questions that the medical profession has been wrestling with for a long time but have really come home to roost this year.
Funny how our invitation to the National Medical Council on Gun Violence conference got lost in the mail. It’s a bit early to call the NRA, GOA or the Massachusetts-based Gun Owners Action League to see if their invites suffered a similar fate, but I’m thinking yes. But not Mike’s. Hmmm.
Notice the word “if” in Mike’s description of the conference’s goal: to “figure out if patients are at risk for gun violence.” Here’s the National Medical Council on Gun Violence’s official mission statement:
Our mission is to pursue research and collaborative efforts leading to the creation and dissemination of evidence-based resources to aid health care providers whose patients present them with gun violence as a medical issue.
How do patients “present” physicians with gun violence as a medical issue? They get shot. Or they know people who’ve been shot. Or — and this is the big one — they have a gun in their home. Well, some docs feel that’s enough to justify medical intervention. Maybe even most. But one thing’s for sure: Mike ain’t got time for the ones who don’t.
Throughout the conference I kept listening to presentations which were based on an assumption about medicine and guns which I’m not sure is really true. And it goes like this: in order to effectively raise the issue of gun risk, the physician must first determine whether a patient is, indeed, a risk to himself or others if he has access to a gun. And if the physician determines that the patient is, in fact, a health risk if there’s a gun around, how do you determine the degree of gun access without infringing on his right to own a gun whether he’s a risk for gun violence or not?
The reason I’m not comfortable with this assumption is because I happen to believe one simple thing about guns, namely, that if there is a gun lying around, locked or unlocked, the risk of gun injury is simply much greater than if the gun doesn’t exist. To borrow a phrase from the late Elmore Leonard, “Don’t fool with guns in here, okay? The goddamn piece’s liable to go off.” Now researchers can parse all the data with a fine-tooth comb from today until next year, but the bottom line is exactly what Leonard says: if it’s around, sooner or later it’s going to go off.
So MTGGW starts off semi-anti-gun; asserting the indisputable fact that a gun in the home increases the risk of (and I’m presuming here) a negligent discharge, a non-self-defense-related homicide or suicide. But rather than balancing that risk against reward – as we must do with all potential dangers – Mike states that a gun in the home will “go off” and create tragedy.
It’s a short step from “guns go off” to “guns shouldn’t be in the home.” Mike “the Gun Guy” reckons docs should spread the former message in the obvious hope that patients will get the latter. But before Mike makes that point, he feels obliged to take a break from the action and state his pro-gun bona fides.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not anti-gun, no matter what many people who read this blog and others will choose to believe. I currently own two black guns, a Colt H-Bar and a Ruger Mini-14, along with a Mossberg tactical shotgun, a Marlin 30-30, without doubt the single best deer gun ever made, and one of those Remington 700s in 270 Winchester which might go off even if the trigger isn’t pulled.
Not that I’m against handguns, for that matter, because I also own every Glock 9, the two John Browning masterpieces, a Colt 1911 and a P-35, a Walther PP in 22, another Walther PP in 32, a little TPH for when I’m out walking in shorts, three or four K-frame Smiths and just for good measure, a Beretta 92. And I almost forgot the two Sigs, the new little guys in 380 and 9. But as much as I love my toys, I know one thing – put a round in the chamber, pull the trigger and if someone’s standing in the direction in which the gun is pointed, they’re going down.
Mike may know guns – he certainly has a few – but he’s profoundly ignorant about gun rights and those who cherish them. For one thing, guns are not “toys.” The People of the Gun love to shoot, and often shoot for fun. But I don’t know a single one who refers to one of their firearms as a “toy” – unless they’re being ironic. Even those who do use the T word know enough not to do so in a publication read by legions of anti-gunners.
Nor would a genuine gun rights guy suggest that anyone “standing in the direction in which the gun is pointed” when it’s fired will be hit and die – an implication Mike makes by deploying the phrase “going down.” It may seem like a small point, but when you’re discussing guns with people whose opinion is informed by ignorance and fear, it’s important to get your facts straight, and not play to their emotion-based preconceptions.
Alas, Mike knows exactly who’s reading his stuff. Like so many “I believe in the Second Amendment but…” types, Weisser wants it both ways. He wants HuffPo huzzahs and “gun guy” street cred. Not even Karl Wallenda could manage that high wire act – if only because the wire doesn’t exist. Either you’re for gun rights or your not. Mike’s not.
It’s all well and good that physicians are concerned about how to make guns safer, how to keep them out of the “wrong” hands, how to lock them up or lock them away. But I think what doctors should do is always tell all their patients that a gun can cause real harm. And they should say it again and again. My internist doesn’t ask whether I smoke before cautioning me not to light up a cigarette.
Pediatricians don’t ask parents whether they fasten the child’s seatbelt before reminding them to make sure the kids ride safe. The role of the physician, every physician, is to reduce harm. Not having a gun reduces harm. The patient doesn’t agree with the doctor, that’s fine. But the physician did what is required and expected, which was to tell the truth about guns.
“Not having a gun reduces harm.” Really? And here I was under the impression that the exact opposite is true. That gun ownership reduces harm. Americans exercising their natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms prevent genocide and protect their pursuit of happiness, to the tune of an estimated one million defensive gun uses per year.
Doctors shouldn’t be forbidden from talking to their patients about the risks of gun ownership. But anyone who suggests that doctors should be “required and expected” to tell their patients “again and again” that a gun in the home is going to “go off” and hurt them, that gun ownership is a bad, bad thing, is aiding and abetting those who would degrade and destroy our firearms freedom.
And that’s the truth about Mike Weisser.