Dozens of hospital and healthcare executives converged on New York City for a conference to discuss their role as “leaders” in reducing the criminal misuse of firearms.
Criminal misuse of firearms isn’t a public health issue nor should it be treated as such. It’s a criminal issue caused by individuals breaking the law. These health professionals should have instead listened closer to the keynote kickoff speaker, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Director Steven Dettelbach’s remarks.
Misfire from the Start
“Gun violence is a public health crisis. The responsibility falls on the shoulders of the decision makers of our nation’s health systems and hospitals to change the narrative on gun safety and pursue solutions that will make a meaningful difference,” Northwell Health President and CEO Michael Dowling, the forum’s moderator, told attendees.
Dowling isn’t a doctor, nor is he a prosecutor. His background is that of a career bureaucrat, former professor of social policy and an “influential voice” who is “taking a stand on societal issues such as gun violence.”
He gained attention a few years ago with a public “call to action” urging healthcare providers to support gun control. Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership rejected Dowling’s argument, saying, “Firearms are not a public health issue.” The DRGO website instead stated responsible gun ownership has been shown to benefit the public health by preventing violent crime.
With Dowling leading the forum, it was obvious where the conversations would lead.
Wrong Diagnosis, Wrong Prescription
ATF Director Steven Dettelbach provided opening remarks. He thanked the group for their work and agreed with Dowling that “now is the time to fight,” but the director’s remarks had a notable focus that was missed in most all other discussions – the crime factor. Director Dettelbach highlighted a new report by ATF.
“The updated volume analyzes specifically America’s crime gun data,” Director Dettelbach said. “It provides more information on America’s crime guns – those are the guns used in and associated with crime.”
Director Dettelbach touched on one aspect of the report. “Over the five-year period the report covers, from 2017 to 2021, there were more than 1 million guns stolen from private individuals…,” he said. “Law-abiding gun owners don’t want their firearms stolen and they certainly don’t want them stolen and used in violent crime. Nobody breaks into a car and steals a gun to go hunting.”
While spiking crime has been a concerning issue in cities across the country, including New York City, there was no mention of proven firearm industry partnerships with ATF that have resulted in the low numbers of unintended firearm injuries and deaths since data was first recorded in 1903.
Regardless, a physician or medical doctor is not needed to determine that stealing a firearm is a crime.
No “gun violence prevention forum” in New York would be complete without New York Gov. Kathy Hochul bragging about her own crusade to push through even more restrictive gun control. She praised the forum with little mention of the crime problem in her state’s largest cities and the criminals who continue to wreak havoc on New Yorkers. That includes another shooting on the subway a few weeks ago.
“Hopefully this important discussion will lead to changes back in your states,” the governor said.
She explained her efforts to pass more gun control following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to strike down New York’s century-old restrictive and subjective concealed carry law in its Bruen decision.
During oral arguments of New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito highlighted his public safety concerns with the existing law and explicitly asked, “How many illegal guns were seized by the New York Police Department last year? All these people with illegal guns, they’re on the subway, they’re walking around the streets. But the ordinary, hard-working, law-abiding people I mentioned, no, they can’t be armed?”
Post-Bruen, the public health situation in New York is better. Despite hyperbolic warnings over the Bruen decision by Gov. Hochul and gun control allies, early data shows an improving situation.
The findings of a report from the City and State of New York were ignored by Gov. Hochul. “A little more than half a year later, the spate of crime implied by those foreboding prognoses has not yet occurred,” the report stated. “And indeed, not only has New York avoided the wave of gun violence envisioned by some, but to the contrary, shootings are actually down.”
‘Scientists’ Not Following the Science
Late last year, a report from The Reload revealed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) purposefully important data after being lobbied by gun control groups. It confirms suspicions Americans have towards a government-funded health agency instituting policy that’s not rooted in science, that also restricts Constitutional rights.
When “gun violence” is proclaimed to be a public health issue, which Americans have a history of opposing, it’s rightly assumed that the federal government would use taxpayer funding to push an agenda based on gun control propaganda – which is illegal – rather than holding criminals accountable for their crimes.
CEO Dowling’s forum participants came with their minds already made up for more gun control. Criminals should be the focus of policies to reduce the intentional criminal misuse of firearms. Pushing gun control under the guise of “public health” is malpractice.
Matt Manda is Manager, Public Affairs for the National Shooting Sports Foundation.