Previous Post
Next Post

By Robert B. Young, MD

The antagonism of medical leaders has infected too many physicians with disregard for the Second Amendment and the value of firearms. More than anything, DRGO’s purpose is to correct that. But addressing these prejudices, once established, is an uphill battle.

Just as more, better speech is the best response to hateful speech, education and positive experience is the antidote to the toxic attitudes of hoplophobic academics. But when you aren’t inside the ivy-covered walls, it’s a big order to match their impact on impressionable minds.

Students go to medical school eager to learn whatever they are taught on their way to becoming part of the medical fellowship. That’s why the best time and place to tell the whole truth is while they are in training. And it’s a rare opportunity.

We were delighted to learn that one of our own, Dr. John Wipfler (who wrote Keeping Your Family Safe: The Responsibilities of Gun Ownership with our founder, Dr. Timothy Wheeler) is accomplishing that.

In Dr. Wipfler’s words:

“I personally do teach 40 or 50 med students (2nd / 3rd year) from the Univ[ersity] of Illinois College of Medicine [UICM] about firearms safety, marksmanship, and tactical medicine each year, at my house, using Airsoft CO2 pistols . . . [A]lso every student (who chooses to, and most do) gets to shoot a semi-auto 12 gauge a few times.  Probably 2/3 of the students have never shot a gun before.  They all leave with important information, a smile, and hopefully have a more positive view about the topic.”

Neither Dr. Wipfler nor the rest of DRGO’s team have heard of this happening anywhere else. With colleagues, he mentors students belonging to the school’s Emergency Medicine Interest Group (EMIG).  He volunteers his farm (well-equipped as a live action training facility) each fall for a 6 hour weekend experience of learning about and shooting guns. They teach emergency trauma first-aid at the same time, as well as the philosophy of rightful self-defense, its tactics and how to respond when encountering people who carry. Each participant gets a personal Individual First Aid Kit to take home.

After dinner, a highlight for hungry students everywhere, the excitement peaks further. They arm up with Airsoft weapons, and get to try clearing a house. Then they split into two teams for a hostage rescue scenario. They learn that these jobs aren’t as smooth as typically depicted. They also get more first aid practice as they treat the wounds they would have incurred as amateur SWAT team members.

Per Dr. Wipfler: “Highlight of the evening is blasting a gallon of gasoline with a 12 gauge from 15 feet, at night, with resultant fireball and 12 foot diameter instant campfire.” Most are hooked now. But by the end of the evening, even those who may not continue to shoot avocationally have learned that guns are tools in our hands, not scary weapons of mass destruction.

Dr. Wipfler says that the UICM dean has thanked him often, so there is official recognition of the value of familiarity with guns and gun safety. He was apparently able to get this going as a result of precepting the EMIG, and then offering them this extra added attraction for whoever was interested.  That may have been a more successful approach than bluntly proposing a firearms addition to their required course of study (not that that wouldn’t be good for everyone). “Most med school curriculum committees are highly jealous and guard each ‘second’ of teaching time given to med students, and it’s hard to add on new material.”

Neither Dr. Wipfler nor I have heard of other medical schools where there is any firearm education given. If there are, it would be great to hear about other ways in which they were introduced and to collaborate in efforts to introduce the subject elsewhere.

While almost any age is a good one to teach gun safety and beginning shooting, medical students seem an ideal crowd. Their biases haven’t yet solidified, and they are still active learners. They have proven themselves to be unusually responsible. And they are the future of our profession.

The Jesuit maxim about influencing development applies to youth in general: “Give me the boy . . . and I will give you the man.” That’s part of the reason so many doctors become anti-gun—the wrong people have them. We need to get ‘em while they’re young!

Robert B. Young, MD, editor of DRGO, is a psychiatrist practicing in Pittsford, NY, an associate clinical professor at the University of Rochester School of Medicine, and a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association.

This post originally appeared at and is reprinted here with permission. 

Previous Post
Next Post


  1. We are each products of our individual environment, upbringing and experience.
    Right or wrong, that is where biases come from… and their ugly cousin, bigotry.
    So yes, the best and most effective way to defeat gun bigots is to start the kids young so they won’t develop wrong ideas and prejudices about what guns (and gun owners) are.

  2. Shooting a gallon of gas from 15 feet with the resultant 12 foot diameter fireball doesn’t seem terribly intelligent but I stand behind everyone’s right to do stupid shit.

    • doesn’t seem to me that flying lead would necessarily ignite a gallon of pepto. i know it’s a volatile substance and not highly stable, yet i just picture this resultant outcome as a bunch of sprayed liquid.
      maybe they do it in front of a campfire.
      ummm… here, hold my beer for a sec.

  3. As a medical doctor myself I can tell you that you get no education about guns during medical school at all
    Doctors have no special expertise at all about guns
    That’s why am so amazed when I hear them give out advice about safe storage of firearms
    I would disagree with everybody’s always saying doctors are against guns
    Where I work, we are all a bunch of gun nuts
    And not just the doctors but our techs, orderlies and nurses as well

  4. Nice start, to educate doctors in training about guns.

    Shooting a gallon of gasoline from 15 feet? — I wonder if the doc leading that folly specializes in burn treatment.

    Readers, do not do this!

    • For them, it might be an added opportunity. Practice makes perfect, especially with something as tricky as treating severe burns.

    • “Shooting a gallon of gasoline from 15 feet? — I wonder if the doc leading that folly specializes in burn treatment.”

      Curses! You beat me to it!

      My wisecrack *was* gonna be –

      “Don’t worry about it, the docs in the trauma center’s burn unit are taking care of it.”

      In the early eighties, a buddy of mine told me about a foursome golf game he had with doctors. He was surprised when he told me how the anesthesiologist was causally conversing with one of the other doctors about what meds were fun to enjoy for recreational purposes…

  5. This is so great to teach peeps not to use emotion to think and make bad decisions but, critical factual thinking based reality!

  6. The ongoing inclusion of guns and gun safety with the medical profession under the false pretense of public health is nothing more than big brother using the medical profession as a proxy to gain more control over the individual using collectivist agitprop. This profession is already the 3rd leading cause of death in the US, and this is going by only the reported numbers. WTF else needs to be said?

  7. “How to Make Friends and Influence People—About Guns”:

    Don’t be the arrogant and self righteous easily offended “know it all” that often comment on this blog. Nothing turns the uninitiated, but interested off faster than “that guy”.

  8. As a physician I love the idea of using the interest group for an awesome purpose like this. Wish they’d had that in my med school. I’ve never heard of anything like it anywhere else either.

  9. In my experience the best way to influence people into coming over to our, the pro-2nde Amendment side is something we usually have no control over ie. “events” whether “natural” (hurricanes/tornados/blizzards etc.) or “man-made” (riots/terrorist attack ala Boston Bombing “lock-down” & search). Being exposed to both the goodness and depravity of man, realizing authorities are overwhelmed, unable to respond to calls no matter how serious enlightens many and instills a resolve first not to become a victim and second to prepare for future events which is inevitable no matter where you live.

    Tonight my wife and I are sweating out her Liberal, anti-gun, childhood friend’s decision to stay in the Sarasota-area despite numerous warnings. By no means “preppers” in any sense the woman and her husband (who just got of the hospital for heart problems a few days ago) both former “Manhattanites” (NYC) and executives, have pets, a stubborn elderly (90 yr old) mother living nearby, and intend to ride out the storm. When asked how they are stocked for food the reply of “well we’ve got snacks” didn’t quite impress us or indicate that they understood the severity of what’s about to impact them. They are installing their storm shutters and filling everything in sight with tap water but their failure and reluctance to prepare may result in either their demise or if they survive in their coming over to our side.

  10. I don’t give a crap if the good Dr. Is pro gun, and a positive influence on forming his students opinions on guns, if he throws in with the rest of his cohorts on being the ones who should decide others RTKABA.

    Besides, all that other sh_t he said just made me trust all doctors a whole lot less.

    • If we want a doctor’s opinion on guns, we know we can obamacare it out of them until it fully goes tits up.

  11. “Highlight of the evening is blasting a gallon of gasoline with a 12 gauge from 15 feet, at night, with resultant fireball and 12 foot diameter instant campfire.”

    I am going to call bull$hit. I launched a slug from a 12 gauge shotgun into a 5 gallon bucket filled with water from 30 feet away and that sprayed water well beyond 15 feet. And a single gallon jug is an outright explosion spraying water well past 15 feet.

    Spraying gasoline onto people with the expectation of starting a fire is a really BAD idea.

Comments are closed.