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A survey done by Yale, based on doctors’ political party registration, found that there was a significant difference in how Republican and Democrat physicians treat patients who owned guns.



And Democratic doctors were 66 percent more likely to say they’d urge parents of small children not to store guns in the home — while Republican doctors instead preferred to ask about safe storage of the firearms, concluded the survey, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“This was really an eye-opener,” said bioethicist Nancy Berlinger of The Hastings Center, a nonpartisan research institute.

She wasn’t involved with the study but said it sheds light on the problem of “implicit bias” that affects people throughout society — the judgments we’re not consciously aware of making.

“We’re all biased in some way. We can be biased for something as well as against something,” Berlinger explained. When it comes to deeply partisan divides, doctors “can’t screen that out just like the rest of us can’t screen it out.”

The story goes on to state:

Consider firearm safety, an important public health issue particularly for children, who too often are killed or injured when they find and play with a gun.

The number of children’s deaths in such scenarios,  while always tragic, is tiny. From a public health standpoint, it happens far less than falling down stairs, drowning in bathtubs, or riding bicycles. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the average numbers of of accidental firearms deaths per year for the five years from 2010 to 2014 among children under 10 years old, was 40. And the vast majority of those resulted from adult males firing the shot that killed the child.

John Lott was able to differentiate those numbers for the years 1995-2001. The average number of children under 10 dying in firearms accidents was 42.6 (again from the CDC). The average number of children under 10 shooting themselves or others was nine.

In a nation of 320 million people, and over 40 million children under 10, that is statistically insignificant (though again, tragic in every case). Children under five who drown in five gallon buckets are roughly three times as common.

This shows that the level of concern about firearms as a risk for children is much more ideological rather than rationally based. Applying the same amount of time and effort to warn of the dangers of drowning, falling down stairs, or even using five gallon buckets to wash cars or mop floors, would be far more productive.

While every death of a child is a terrible event, there is no rational way that any public health professional can say that nine deaths a year is an significant public health problem…unless they have a hidden agenda. That is because all preventive measures have costs.

Guns in the home are used to prevent crime or for self defense (depending on the source) between 500,000 and three million times a year, the number of innocent lives saved because of guns in the home, is undoubtedly many times the number of children who die from accidents from firearms.

From the CDC (pdf):

Defensive use of guns by crime victims is a common occurrence, although the exact number remains disputed (Cook and Ludwig, 1996; Kleck, 2001a). Almost all national survey estimates indicate that defensive gun uses by victims are at least as common as offensive uses by criminals, with estimates of annual uses ranging from about 500,000 to more than 3 million (Kleck, 2001a), in the context of about 300,000 violent crimes involving firearms in 2008 (BJS, 2010). On the other hand, some scholars point to a radically lower estimate of only 108,000 annual defensive uses based on the National Crime Victimization Survey (Cook et al., 1997). The variation in these numbers remains a controversy in the field. The estimate of 3 million defensive uses per year is based on an extrapolation from a small number of responses taken from more than 19 national surveys. The former estimate of 108,000 is difficult to interpret because respondents were not asked specifically about defensive gun use.

The Hippocratic school taught “either help or do not harm the patient.” Advocating for gun-free homes seems to be violation of that rule.

©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
Gun Watch

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  1. Implicit bias…sounds like a rock band. Of course we’re all biased-but my biases don’t get people killed or imprisoned. My most recent doctor was a medic in the Iraq war. He had no problem with guns. And none of my kids docs ever asked-happy I have no small children in my home…

  2. Cook and Ludwig are gun control advocates masquerading as scientists so you can ignore anything they say. They have publicly stated their opposition to private gun ownership and that thinking drives all of their work. If you read Kleck, he explains why the National Crime Victimization Survey cannot be used to estimate the annual number of defensive gun uses. Basically, that survey was not designed for that purpose. By the way, because it was sponsored by the Justice Department, the people making the phone calls had to identify themselves as employees of the Justice Department before they could ask any questions which would inhibit any honest answers about gun use.

  3. The day my doctor starts questioning or lecturing me about firearms is the day I find a new doctor. It’s that simple. Luckily, I don’t live in a part of the country populated by Ivy League med school grads…and that’s by choice.

  4. Another survey showed that 100% of all doctors, both Republicans and Democrats, don’t give a damn about doctors killing or seriously harming 400,000 patients a year.

    They’d rather talk about guns.

      • My former law partners had a national malpractice firm (I wasn’t involved in that business). They hired a few doctors and nurses to screen the cases and eliminate those that were without merit.

        Even after eliminating the non-meritorious cases, they were inundated with thousands of cases every month that they couldn’t possibly handle. The amount of malpractice is astonishing.

        One takeaway — many lives could be saved and serious health problems avoided if doctors would simply wash their hands. But I guess it’s just too much effort.

      • Ahhh….ye olde false dilemma. That’s a useful contribution to the discussion. So unless we give the few reckless, negligent (alcoholic, drug abusive, God-complex consumed) doctors who violate well established and proven protocols a pass, a license to kill, if you will, then we all must forego all modern medicine? Good grief. Cue the “Old School” debate judge clip!

    • Yep. The documented numbers are too large for the public to mentally process them, so they don’t. But trust this profession on vaccines, they are safe and effective, trust them. Without question.

        • I don’t take my car to a chef to have it fixed. I’d like to at least know a little of someone’s background before taking their comments on medicine at face value.

        • I’m not offering you medical advice. Do you have to be a gunsmith to comment on guns? Ridiculous lack of logic.

      • You rarely make a gun related comment on a gun blog. Instead you rail against the medical profession, in particular vaccines. Before you can be taken seriously on such a complex topic you need to give us some of your background/history so we can judge your expertise.

        Otherwise you’re just another alex jones loony and no one takes them seriously.

        This was meant as a reply to pg2.

        • As your previous statement, this makes no sense. You are saying information is only valid if it comes from a certified, official source? Ridiculous. There’s a defined term for that, it’s called ‘appeal to authority’, and it’s a widely used propaganda technique. BTW, I don’t care if you, or the collective “we”(#stopherdmentality) take me seriously. Information should be judged on it’s merit, not the sources credentials.

  5. My wife has had the same doctor since she was born, and now my kids also see him. After her last visit, she texted me while i was at work and told me that he asked her if we have guns in the house. I asked her what she said. She said yes, my husband has guns. He then proceeded to grill my 2 sons about the guns. He asked where i kept them, if i left them out, if my chilren were frightened of them, etc. I was absolutely furious. He didnt ask about dangerous chemicals, if we had a swimming pool, or sharp knives. Only concern was my guns! I told my wife, from now on, if someone asks about guns, just say its none of your business!

    • “He then proceeded to grill my 2 sons about the guns…I was absolutely furious.”

      Furious at the doctor, the wife, or both?

      If I was there, I’d be dragging the kids out of that office immediately, leaving the asshole in the examining room all by his lonesome. And I wouldn’t come back, I don’t care if he was my family doctor for 30 years before that.

      It’s one thing to talk to the parent about guns.
      Go after my children directly with your politics, and I’ll take that as a declaration of war.

      • How about they just teach the kids about gun safety and storage in school, along with marksmanship and and gun maintenance. That’s my politics, do I get a deceleration of war?

      • You also need to refuse to pay his bill, and report to your insurance carrier that he has submitted a claim for services which were not actually performed, you suspect fraud. Let him deal with that for a while. You did not go there to have your kids and wife terrorized by an incompetent quack, he has apparently got Alzheimers.

    • Yeah, new doc time. It’s none of their damn business, that’s some big brother stuff. right there. You worry about the medicine doc I’ll worry about the guns.

  6. Maybe it is because I live in Florida, but I never get anything but genuine curiosity if the gun subject comes up at doctors offices.

    At my Oncologist one of the doctors, that now is at a separate practice, was a fellow USPSA shooter and a 3 gunner. And they are holding a sporting clays shoot to support research for the form of cancer I had.

  7. I really don’t think political party has anything to do with it, more likely gun ownership. When a physician dose not own guns where do you think they get their information from from? Also, according to TAG 10, 11 and 12 year olds don’t count? Damn, I thought the anti-gunner were disingenuous when they included 17 year old gang bangers. 10-12 year olds are the ones you realy have to keep an eye on

    • You can bet your last penny the party affiliation matters. One of the two has anti gun program right on their platform.

      Straight from the ass’ mouth:

      “Preventing Gun Violence
      With 33,000 Americans dying every year, Democrats believe that we must finally take sensible action to address gun violence. While responsible gun ownership is part of the fabric of many communities, too many families in America have suffered from gun violence. We can respect the rights of responsible gun owners while keeping our communities safe. To build on the success of the lifesaving Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, we will expand and strengthen background checks and close dangerous loopholes in our current laws; repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) to revoke the dangerous legal immunity protections gun makers and sellers now enjoy; and keep weapons of war—such as assault weapons and large capacity ammunition magazines (LCAM’s)—off our streets. We will fight back against attempts to make it harder for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to revoke federal licenses from law breaking gun dealers, and ensure guns do not fall into the hands of terrorists, intimate partner abusers, other violent criminals, and those with severe mental health issues. There is insufficient research on effective gun prevention policies, which is why the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must have the resources it needs to study gun violence as a public health issue.”

  8. I’ve never been asked. My guess would be that male doctors who would ask the question would ask women or children more often than men.

    This is because the only reason to ask the question is to attempt to bully someone about their political views and its simply easier for these cowards to bully women or children.

  9. When this BS first started cropping up several years ago I sat down with my wife and daughter and told them if a doctor asked them anything like this to tell the doctor that we don’t have any guns and then tell me about it. It never happened, but never assume doctors have any more brains than anyone else, as I have found they will make stupid assumptions.

    When my daughter was around 9 she managed to get a sewing needle stuck in her foot, eye end first to the point it bent when it hit bone! She pulled it out herself (tough kid) and then told me, and I took her to get a tetanus shot. During the discussion it became apparent this idiot doctor assumed it was a hypodermic needle! After figuring out what this idiot woman was thinking and straightening the twit out, I asked her who the hell leaves hypodermic needles laying around their living room for someone to step on. Never really got an answer, but I got the impression she wanted to ask who the hell uses a needle and thread!

    • Ha. Very likely the doctor sees worse from other parents than bears thinking about on hypodermic needles

      And very likely needle and thread injuries have gone down markedly as well over the past two centuries

      • Any wagers on the number of kids who get AIDS from hypodermic needles vs the number of kids who pick up a stray gun in the home and shoot somebody?

        Maybe the doctors are asking about the wrong inanimate objects in the home?

    • Believe it or not, when I was in college, a young man used a sewing needle and thread sitting on the floor in his dorm room. And stuck the needle in the rug, and forgot to pick it up.
      Hurt like hell when I wandered in an hour later.
      Like the 9 year old, I jammed that eye right into my foot. Excruciating. Poking a hole in yourself with a sharp object is much less painful than doing it with a blunt instrument.
      Taught me not to leave my dorm room without shoes on.

      • As a kid I used to run outdoors with bear feet a lot. One day I jumped on a board with 3″ nail, head sticking out about 1″. It made interesting sound scraping on bone in my foot. I will take a needle over that every day.

  10. I suspect doctors’ political affiliations are driven by their beliefs, not the other way around.

    If my doctor were to ask me about guns, I doubt that the conversation would be adversarial. (Last year, he apologized for giving me a questionnaire intended to measure my risk for suicide.) Of course, I might be wrong. If so, I will treat it as an opportunity to straighten out his thinking.

  11. What a Fing racket.

    How much fed/state grant $ did Yale-er (D)bags get to research and determine something well known already about POS (D)r.s?

  12. I went to the Doc a couple months ago for a twinge, and I was asked during the initial screening if I owned a gun.
    I told the nurse that unless it was sticking out of one of my orifices, what medical significance does it have on my visit?

    They re-asked, told em if they can do taxes too, then yeah. If not, then jog on.

    Course this is Californiastan, and they need to know SOOOO bad. Typical Cali garbage. Keep strong sisters and bros.

    • I must be a fluke. Lived in CA for about 30 years now and have had Kaiser for at least 25 and never once asked about or had guns mentioned.

  13. I’ve not had the pleasure of a lecture about firearms from a doctor. As long as any conversation about the matter doesn’t stand in the way of doing his job I’m paying for it couldn’t care any less about his opinions either way.

  14. Unless the DR. was treating a gun related injury his questioning is out of line. Time to find a new Dr.

  15. Honestly, i was probably more mad at my wife because i have read articles about doctors asking such questions, so we had already talked about what she would say if asked. I knew he is a liberal quack, and figured it may come up. So when she texted me, abd told me about it, i was pretty upset. I also felt he was trying to scare my boys away from shooting.

    • Tried to scare your children away from family outdoor activities? Yep, the cocksucker declared war on your role as the father of your children. And feel free to call him a cocksucking pile of shit to his face, I would.

      If you already suspected it might happen, and had a planned response, why wasn’t there a copy of this in your wife’s purse?

      In fact, instead of calling him names, why not think of a reason to go to the doctor yourself (when was your last physical/wellcheck?), and let him know he can’t continue to be your family doctor unless he fills out the form and signs it.

    • I don’t know. But yesterday when I shopped online for upgrade buffer for my AR build I remembered the ad. Then I remembered how annoying it is and ordered Spikes buffer from Primary Arms.
      Now it shows deal on Magpul magazines. Maybe I should order some Lancers.

  16. My wife and I are fortunate enough to have a pool installed in our yard this year. About 10 accidental drownings per day occur in the US.

    Car accidents kill about 30,000 people per year in the US. Driving is one of the most dangerous things most people do daily.

    Are these anti-gun doctors also as concerned about driving and swimming pools? I suspect not.

    • This response inspired me to imagine a Public Service Announcement: “Parents, the leading causes of death among children under 10 are: 1 – Auto Accidents 10%, 2 – Drowning 9% . . . 9 – guns, 0.0123%. Please drive defensively, watch your children while swimming or bathing . . . This PSA has been brought to you by the 5 million members of the NRA”. Now, consider some such similar format for suicides and homicides. What are the leading means of suicide for teens? What is the correlation of death by gun with membership in gangs, dropping out of high school? We need to shift the discussion from #-of-bad-outcomes by-gun to #-of-bad-outcomes by-risky-behavior.

  17. My kids doctor’s do this a bit. It’s clear that it’s because of political machinations elsewhere. I don’t really blame the brainwashed.

    One thing that makes me annoyed is they ask about “hobbies involving lead” in an effort to hide their true agenda. Though I guess they could be wondering about pewter casting or fishing as well. I just kind of doubt it.

    The thing that makes me really annoyed is my wife is scared of guns, it’s going to be a long road to properly educate her, and people telling her “there’s no safe way to have a gun in the house” is both complete nonsense and counter-productive to my own long term goals. Super infuriating.

  18. “Children under five who drown in five gallon buckets are roughly three times as common [as accidental deaths from firearms].

    This shows that the level of concern about firearms as a risk for children is much more ideological rather than rationally based.”

    ^ This . right . here !!!

  19. As long as the medical profession claims the title to the 3rd leading of cause of death yearly in the US, it’s safe to critically question everything the profession has to say about safety and health.

  20. This issue has come up several times on Medscape, the online medical journal
    The consensus of doctors commenting was that there are so many other more dangerous items in the home to warn patients about
    The majority view among gun enthusiast doctors was that even if You are a gun person, doctors have no special training in gun safety
    They suggested that any patient who asks about gun storage should be referred to an NRA certified instructor
    Guns are only a medical issue if the patient answers yes on the suicide question or threatens someone
    Then you should ask if they have a gun and are thinking about using it on yourself or someone else
    Several patients have brought up the topic of guns with me and I was pleased to be invited out to go plinking on their private property
    There are no good places to plink here in south Florida!

    • Does the “consensus” recognize that there is nothing in the home that comes remotely close the potential mortal danger of consulting with an MD?

  21. Almost forgot to mention, this summer I was going to a new Urologist and the receptionist saw my GA carry license when I was paying my copay. I advised her that I never carry when I am going to have to drop my pants for someone. The other receptionist looked up and said TMI. Where does she think she works, an accounting firm?

  22. I was discussing this very subject with a relative today. I asked him how the hell my doctor would know whether I have guns or not. He smiled and pointed at my belt and said “maybe because you’ve been carrying into his office for years.” Oh, yeah, huh.

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