Who could possibly imagine a bunch of tightly specialized professionals being taken seriously when “speaking out” on a subject about which they have little or no knowledge? Yet that’s exactly what Salon writer Amanda Marcotte does in her piece titled “An apolitical profession wakes up: Trauma surgeons speak out about gun violence.

First off, the AMA is anything but “apolitical,” especially least when it comes to Second Amendment rights. According to this June 2016 piece from NPR:

The AMA, the largest physicians group in the U.S., says it has supported gun control since the 1980s, and as recently as 2013, the association called the uncontrolled ownership and use of firearms “a serious threat to public health.”

But if we live somewhere in the dark recesses of Ms. Marcotte’s fantasy world, we find that:

…rarely does the public hear from the very people who deal directly with the fallout from gun violence on a daily basis: trauma surgeons.

I guess she was living under a rock during the early 1990s when Dr. Arthur Kellermann published his (now thoroughly discredited) study in the New England Journal of Medicine. Maybe she wasn’t paying attention in the late 1990s and early twenty-naughts when Drs. Philip Cook and Jens Ludwig were spouting their gun control nonsense.

And perhaps Amanda was off somewhere on a vision quest when Dr. Garen Wintemute was violating privacy laws secretly taping transactions at gun shows, then editing the tapes to make it appear that dealers were ignoring the law. And Dr. David Hemenway was having heart palpitations over the idea of people exercising their natural, fundamental, and inalienable human, individual, civil and Constitutional right to own and carry the weapon of their choice.

She also must have been otherwise occupied when Dr. Randi Smith testified before the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in September of 2011, and before the California State Assembly in May of 2013, and Dr. C. William Schwab was an invited speaker at a March 2013 symposium on Gun Violence in America: A Public Health and Social Crisis with (among others) the director of Ceasefire PA.

Also on Dr. Schwab’s resume — and thoroughly ignored by Marcotte — was his co-author credit for Reducing firearm violence: a research agenda, published in Injury Prevention magazine in April of 2007. He was also one of the founders of Firearms Injury Center at Penn (which received a $1.2 million grant from the Joyce Foundation in June of 2001), and as far back as 1993 gave a presentation at the American Surgical Association meeting on “Violence: America’s Uncivil War.”

So apolitical? Hardly. More from Marcotte:

Last week the American Surgical Association held its annual meeting in Philadelphia, and Dr. Shelby Resnick, a trauma surgeon in that city, presented a paper she co-wrote with a group of other Pennsylvania trauma surgeons and researchers about the correlations between firearm injury and laws restricting access to guns.

Drs. Schwab and Smith were two of those co-authors, and yet, despite their presence, and despite the questionable methodology (back to that in a moment), they were unable to make any sort of link between strict gun control and reduced firearm homicide rates. But through the art of selective quotation, Marcotte manages to imply just the opposite:

“Our paper shows there’s a difference between states that have more restrictive gun laws and less restrictive gun laws and the level of firearm fatality rates, and they are lower where there’s more restrictive gun laws,” Dr. Resnick said in a phone conversation. …

Anyone who bothers to follow the link to the paper’s abstract (the actual paper is not yet available) will find that the results don’t match Marcotte’s apparent agenda:

Restrictive firearm legislation is associated with decreased pediatric, accidental, suicide and overall FDR [Firearm Death Rate], but homicide and Black American FDR appear unaffected by restrictive measures. [emphasis added]

Good thing for the antis that if the science won’t back them up, reporters with an axe to grind always will.

About that scientific method thingy; in order to determine which states have strict gun laws and which don’t, Dr. Resnick and her fellows used the Brady Campaign State Scorecards (BCSS) as a measuring stick.

Now I personally would have thought that to qualify as “restrictive” a state should have to get an ‘A’ or perhaps an ‘A’ or a ‘B’. The only problem with doing that, though, is that before the Bradies falsified um, “curved” their results, not a single state received an A and only 9 states got a ‘B’.

In fact, pre-curving, there were no A-grades, 9 B-grades, 2 C-grades, and 2 D-grades, leaving 37 states that received an ‘F’. Even after “fixing” the numbers there were still only 5 A-graded states which would make the sample too small to be meaningful. Only by expanding the definition of “restrictive” to include grades of D- and above were Dr. Resnick and her group able to get an almost even split.

Another problem with using the Brady grades: their grade distribution. Any score above 18 is passing.

Huh? I have attended many different educational institutions with many different scoring structures. The least restrictive was the U.S. Navy’s Nuclear Power School, where the mantra was “Two-five to survive.”

This did not, however, mean 25 out of 100. It meant 2.5 out of 4.0 which translates to 62.5% for a passing grade. I shudder to think of what kind of problems nuclear subs would have had with “Zero-point-seven-two gets you through.”

Dr. Resnick’s researchers did a little better with their fatality numbers, they used the CDC’s WISQARS database.

Not having scads of underpaid interns to assemble my data, I did not (as the Resnick team did) go back and compare Brady and CDC numbers for 1999-2003, 2004-2008 and 2009-2013; instead I pulled the 2015 Brady scores (which are downloadable) and compared them to the WISQARS numbers (also downloadable) for 2009 – 2013. Unsurprisingly, my results were similar to Dr. Resnick’s, but I went a little further than she did.

Once again, the Resnick study abstract states:

Restrictive firearm legislation is associated with decreased … suicide and overall FDR …

The ‘association’ of strong gun laws with reduced suicide rates is quite simple to deconstruct. The antis often make much of how “restrictive” gun laws reduce the number of suicides committed with guns. Indeed, Canada is one of their favorite examples. A well-known and oft-quoted study by Drs. Antoon Leenaars and David Lester states:

Analysis showed a significant decrease after passage of Bill C-17 in the rates of suicides… involving firearms and the percentage of suicides using firearms.

This sounds pretty unequivocal, but it is, in fact, both incomplete and completely misleading. As Dr. F. Bridges pointed out in his article “Gun Control Law (Bill C-17), Suicide and Homicide In Canada” while the suicide rate using firearms definitely dropped, overall suicide rates showed no statistically significant change.

Let me repeat that: strict gun laws may reduce the number of suicides using firearms, but total suicide rates remain essentially unchanged.

Furthermore, when we look at the numbers graphically it’s very easy to see. Below is a chart comparing overall suicide rates with Brady scores (suicide rate has been multiplied by five for clarity and the Brady score has been normalized to start the scores at 1:

Pretty easy to see that there is no correlation, much less any sort of causation between gun control laws and suicide rates, no?

Ms. Marcotte went on (and on) with her diatribe, but it’s more of the same; distortions, fabrications, and selective quotes trying to convince people that guns are bad and gun laws are good. I read it so you don’t have to.

45 Responses to Amanda Marcotte: Anti-Gun Docs On Parade

  1. Playing the “appeal to authority” game where physicians talk about the “public health” issues, when a bullet hole is in a patient because a specific individual decided to shoot that person (committing a crime (usually)). A criminal matter, not a public health matter. It isn’t something that “just happens.” Individuals specifically made the decision, knowing the result. Certainly not a public health issue. If it is extended to these matters, then it can be extended to any matter.

    • Here is a public health issue. More children drown in residential swimming pools than all people killed by “assault rifles” or all rifles combined. People with rifles kill about 250 people of all ages a year. People with swimming pools kill about 300 kids every year.

  2. It’s pointless to look at states. They need to be looking at cities and comparing cities. The vast majority of gun crimes happen in cities. Gun laws are only one factor in criminal violence. Education, socioeconomic factors and race yes race play a part in violent gun crime. I don’t blame blacks for their disproportionate amount of gun homicide. The violence that has been perpetrated against them since being forcefully taken from Africa up until now living in segregated areas isn’t their fault. Those factors lead them to be more numb to violence and death. It’s sad. But if people can’t even talk about and accept those facts without throwing racist around nothing positive will ever happen to help the vast majority of gun crime victims which are also African Americans.

  3. The world has too many people and not enough jobs or food and it will only get worse. The elite left isnt worried about the firearm deaths, there worried about firearm ownership. In the u.s. death by firearm is at a 50 year low… obesity, sugar, tobacco, alcohol, opiods, the betis, all kills way more people in the u.s. every year and are increasing versus declining like firearm death rates. As well as car wrecks, hospital errors, and infections…..

  4. 300 drown in bathtubs too. More than terror or ‘assault weapons’ every year And 30 are killed by dogs. Maybe thats why the police always shoot dogs, its for public health. Just ban bathtubs

  5. May I suggest a few new rules for physicians.

    First, do no harm.

    Second, shut your fvcking mouths.

    Third, fix your own house since it kills twenty thousand Americans every month.

    Okay, maybe the third relates directly to the first.

    • “Third, fix your own house since it kills twenty thousand Americans every month.” Hospitals are responsible for killing that many a month? Huh?!!!!
      Gun control idiots might already be laughing hysterically at you by now as they should. Way to support the cause.

    • Perhaps we need physician control. I wonder how many of those gunshot victims were killed by preventable medical errors. If we fix violence using guns, what are they going to do for a living?

    • Since it has been shown that the vast majority of homicides are committed by career criminals with histories of violence I suggest that the ER physicians could make a huge contribution by one little expedient: stop trying so hard to save the lives of criminals who were shot in the act of perpetrating their crimes. We spend a fortune saving their worthless lives, another fortune attempting and sometimes succeeding at convicting them of those crimes, another fortune incarcerating them with people of like ilk who will teach them how to better avoid being convicted next time, then turn them loose on society again to shoot more people.

      Focus on the actual victims, Doc. Save them first, let the perp stew in the next room and consider his folly while you save people who actually deserve our help.

      While this position may be a legal issue for ERs, from a moral standpoint it certainly makes sense to me.

      I was a medic in the U.S. Army for 6 years. I know how to treat gunshot woulds. Will you EVER see me administering aid to a wounded criminal in the field, whether it was me or someone else who shot him? Highly unlikely.

      • How do you, all by yourself, establish guilt and innocence after the fact? I certainly don’t wish to give that power to physicians, any more than to police or politicians.

        The best outcome for a lethal attack is still the death or injury of the aggressor at the hands of the intended victim or their guardian. Innocent until proven guilty by a jury of their peers if they survive the self defense measures of those they attack…

        Taxpayers should not be footing the bills in any case.

    • As a close friend of mine is fond of observing, it wasn’t until the 1920s or so that going to the doctor actually *** increased *** your chances of living.

      I don’t mean to appeal to authority, but he *is* a Mayo-trained doctor.

      • Depends on the doctor, and what you go to have him/her treat. A lot. Depends on a lot of things.

        I spent 30 years as an RN, the last 14 as an advanced practice nurse. I saw an awful lot of people live longer and better… but I also saw an incredible number tortured and die as a direct result of medical interventions, even when it was not an “error.”

        Long life is not the only goal, and each individual has the right (authority) to decide what that means for themselves.

        • A woman I used to used, rest her soul, was nurse at Mass General and she used to be highly critical of many medications, and she would say ‘stay away from hospitals if you want to live longer’.

        • It all depends. And there are no guarantees. I have not seen a doctor in more than ten years, and don’t intend to. I don’t have any real medical problems now, and I take no chemical “medicine.” I’m 70 years old, and most of the problems I have won’t be solved by any doctor or medicine. I also don’t have any “insurance” beyond the bogus “Medicare,” and can’t even afford “part B.” So I’m on my own for most things whether I like it or not.

          But when I broke my right leg ten years ago, I was very glad to go to the hospital and have it taken care of. The key is knowing one from another. Most people see doctors far too much, take far too much “medicine” and don’t learn enough about their own bodies and health to take care of themselves – when it would be incredibly smart to do so.

  6. Oh for f^cks sake…. a gun, also known as an inanimate object, is incapable of commiting violence. Violence is in the heart of an immoral, evil person.

    • I prefer “fire breathing freedom enhancer” myself. (Credit: In American Law YouTube Channel.)

  7. Appears that condensing 50 data points down to 4 was still too many, so this time the data-doctors went with only 2.

    “we found some heterogeneity in the firearm fatality rates among the states within each level of the legislative strength scores (eg, South Dakota has weak gun control laws and low rates of firearm fatality). Such heterogeneity is to be expected and is the reason to conduct a study that involves all 50 states”

    And, if that heterogeneity is so great that it makes your trend look pathetically small by comparison, you group the states to lose those weak law, low violence states (SD, NH, VT, etc.) in the crowd. Check out Figure 2A under the “Figures / Tables” tab on the upper right.

    http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/1661390

  8. Social Science is actually a discipline with its own techniques, expertise, and methods.

    “Last week the American Surgical Association held its annual meeting in Philadelphia, and Dr. Shelby Resnick, a trauma surgeon in that city, presented a paper she co-wrote with a group of other Pennsylvania trauma surgeons and researchers about the correlations between firearm injury and laws restricting access to guns.”

    Next we’ll hear that highly regarded nuclear physicists chimed in on the subject of antebellum Floridian history.
    “Stay in your lane.”

  9. A “C” will get you an M.D., and AMA will get you a nice civil war. The doctors cited here are useful idiot tools, and they need to unbend their own turds before they get to poke their noses up anyone else’s butts.

    In the French and Russian revolutions, doctors were literally enslaved to the state. Let’s not rescue them from ours.

  10. All the more reason to target felons that are gang banging. It is the thug culture that causes most of these shootings and many are thought to have been done by someone that has done it before. Crack down on these guys, make parole restrictions against them going within 50 miles of thier criminal activities. That way, they are forced to make new connections and that would be with a rival gang(who wouldn’t trust him). Call it a geographic parole.

  11. “Hey Doc, I promise to not practice medicine if you promise not to practice risk assessment.”

    • Exactly right. I bet the MDs in question have ZERO experience with firearms. Also, they need to account for justified citizen and police shootings. They never calculate homicides averted due to defensive firearm use which is tricky to do but completely destroys their arguments since it is orders of magnitude greater than criminal homicides.

      Finally, the next bleeping MD that uses the infectious disease analogy for “gun violence” needs to have their license revoked. Firearms are not a vector, it is not an epidemic (rates of violence with firearms has been DECREASING the last few decades), and it is a social/societal/criminal/legal area that is not a medical condition, comorbidity, or risk factor. Take the simple fact that well over 100 million Americans have much more than 300 million firearms (these are old stats) and you can see that the firearms and nearly all of the owners are not the problem. Retarded and ideologue researchers need to admit their complete bias and stop with this nonsense.

  12. I believe Marcotte’s the same person that wrote an article talking about how it’s “oppressive” that women have to cook for their children. I don’t normally use this language, but this is one psycho stupid b*tch.

  13. First off even if we believe the medical error numbers, not all medical errors are committed by physicians
    There are nurses, midwives, techs,
    Physician Assistants and nurse practitioners
    All of them can commit a medical error that could lead to a patient death
    In my hospital we treat plenty of trauma including gunshot wounds and our surgeons and Anesthesiologists are all a bunch of gun owners
    So that group of trauma surgeons does not speak for us

  14. The study’s apolitical authors should work on providing more trauma care facilities and first responder training in the areas that have fewer gun regulations. This as if you lay a map of the availability of those services over one that shows the volume of gun regulations you will find that they are closely related. That is, volumes of both gun regulations and trauma services are a function of population density. Lower population densities are typically accompanied by fewer laws and less availability of trauma care (and fewer police resources). Ready access to trauma care prevents fatalities.

  15. SMH. Johns Hopkins? The British Medical Journal? The AMA? “Trial lawyers and patient advocate groups”? Really??? You guys do recognize who these people are and where they live, right? You suppose they just may have an ax to grind? Perhaps you just aren’t aware of the incentive for these ivory tower types to publish or perish? “The numbers are not in dispute.”? Three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies and statistics. Just what are the criteria for entering these data?
    As for those incredible numbers of deaths attributed to medical misadventure, blaming one group (doctors) illustrates a total lack of understanding of medical processes. What about the lab that enters the wrong data into the record? Or the nursing assistant who forgets to put up the side rail of the bed a confused elderly person is in? Or the RN who dry labs vital signs? Or…I could go on. Suffice it to say there are plenty of persons and opportunities for things to go wrong. I’m NOT saying that errors are made…I’ve seen them, but after 30+ years as a doc, I cannot believe these numbers.
    At least MamaLiberty takes control of her own health which is more than I can say for most people. Uh, ma’am,you do probably need a colonscopy…just sayin’.

    • “Uh, ma’am,you do probably need a colonscopy…just sayin’.”

      Probably, but it’s not going to happen. I’ve had four in my life so far, and all were clear. Our wonderful Medicare system makes it impossible to go there again, since I can’t afford “part B”…

      As for medical mistakes, you are right. Integrity is seriously lacking these days in a great many people, and competence is just as rare. I taught nursing at a community college for a while, until I could no longer live with the politics and insanity. This was in 1989, and few of the students could read with comprehension, write a complete sentence, understand the grammar and spelling necessary to do college writing, or put themselves out to analyze multiple factors to arrive at any rational conclusion. And so on…

      These are the nurses, lab techs, and other health care “professionals” now working in hospitals and other facilities. Most of the older people are retiring as fast as they can. We made our share of medical mistakes, of course, but I would not go to a hospital for anything now unless it was that or bleed out. And, as I get older, I wonder if that’s such a bad way to go after all. 🙁

      • Sorry to report that nothing’s changed since 1989. I had a 2nd LT in the Army under my command who couldn’t write a complete sentence…and that was the late 1970’s.
        And don’t even get me started on hospital politics, especially from administrations.
        Yeah, no Part B…that’s tough. 🙁

  16. How do these doctors figure that disarming law-abiding citizens will curb crime? The bad guys don’t care about the law anyway and rarely acquire their weapons in a legal manner anyway. Felons and gang members don’t care about gun bans and background checks. These doctors are like the Hollywood morons who are given to pontificate to the rest of us about political issues they know little about. These doctors should go back to practicing medicine and leave the rest of us alone. No doctor had better ask me whether or not I keep firearms in the home. I’ll tell he can shove his stethoscope up his behind!

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