Why does organized medicine hate guns?
courtesy scientificamerican.com
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By Timothy Wheeler, MD

Why does organized medicine abhor gun ownership?  Why has the public health community waged a culture war on this foundational American tradition for nearly three decades now? “Guns are a virus that must be eliminated”, preached pediatrician Katherine Christoffel, one of the architects of the original American Academy of Pediatrics firearm policy.  “Guns!! Guns!! Guns!! [sic]”, wrote Lester Adelson, MD, in a 1992 AMA journal article, before launching into a truly bizarre dissertation on the psychology of gun owners.

Adelson’s embarrassing rant and Christoffel’s brazen condemnation (quoted in the now-defunct American Medical News, January 3, 1994) were published in a more innocent time, when medical gun prohibitionists were ascendant.  Even though those activists now take care to conceal their motives (e.g., advocating “gun safety” instead of gun control), their actions speak louder than any of their obfuscations.

An American College of Physicians position paper advocates banning semiautomatic rifles, which includes most rifles designed and manufactured since the Korean War.  Ridiculously, it “supports a ban on firearms that cannot be detected by metal detectors”, a media myth from the 1980s, when then-new technology brought us handguns incorporating extremely durable polymer parts.  No firearms have ever been undetectable by metal detectors, but the ACP seems untroubled by its own ignorance on this point.

Meanwhile, a revolution in gun rights has evolved in both academia and law.  Since the birth of the public health anti-gun rights movement in the late 1980s, every state has adopted, one by one, laws allowing good citizens to discreetly carry firearms for personal protection.  The dire consequences predicted by opponents, in every case, have failed to materialize. In fact, carry license owners have proved themselves to have a lower rate of crime than the general public, or even the police (see page 13).

Simultaneously, a dozen criminology studies (Kleck and Gertz, page 159) have shown that Americans use firearms to defend against violent attack at least 700,000 times every single year. And in most of these defensive gun uses (DGUs), no shot is fired.  Incredibly, the medical literature has mostly ignored this huge body of scientific work even though it is the peer-reviewed work of the acknowledged experts in crime research, criminologists.

The overwhelming body of scientific evidence points to lives saved, injuries prevented, and property protected in numbers that dwarf the 30,000 or so firearm-related deaths each year.  Shouldn’t the medical community be interested in at least investigating a phenomenon that offers such proven benefits?  But no, instead of accepting this reality or even showing a willingness to consider it, organized medicine has ignored and even stonewalled the lifesaving benefits of responsible gun ownership.

Yet another fundamental victory for gun civil rights has played out. In 2008 the U.S. Supreme Court issued its landmark decision in District of Columbia vs. Heller, which established once and for all that the Second Amendment in our Bill of Rights affirms an individual right to own firearms for self-protection.  Two years later that right was incorporated against the states in McDonald v. City of Chicago, requiring every state and lower government to recognize the right.

And yet, even as the American polity has unequivocally affirmed the right to keep and bear arms, our medical establishment seems bent on destroying it.  So strong and irrational is their feeling against gun owners that our medical leaders have refused to support the use of firearm suppressors, which could save millions of Americans from irreversible hearing loss.  The AMA, the American College of Physicians, the American College of Surgeons, and even the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery have all decided not to support the use of this public health windfall that could prevent irreversible hearing loss in millions of Americans.  Their refusal to endorse this hearing-saving safety device is not simple negligence—it is a moral failure.

Organized medicine’s intransigence has not been lost on the American public. Firearm civil rights have been affirmed, violent crime has dropped, and fatal firearm accidents have steadily declined for decades (see Politifact analysis of this claim), even as gun ownership has increased.  Firearm safety and tactical self-defense training centers have multiplied across the land.  More women than ever are taking up firearms for sport and self-defense. The fastest-growing demographic of gun ownership is African-American women (see page 10).

Americans’ understanding of their civil right of gun ownership has grown over the last three decades, and they have liberalized their laws to bring them into conformity with that understanding.  America has changed, but organized medicine has failed to change with it. It is time for our leaders of organized medicine to become true leaders and to begin supporting the American civil right of gun ownership.

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

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  1. I have an online friend who works in an ER at an inner-city hospital. The experience turned him against guns because there are so many victims of armed barbarians.

    I asked him whether he would be happier treating more rape and assault victims, since guns are used quite frequently to stop those crimes.

  2. I can only speak from a trauma, ED, and ICU perspective here as that’s where the end of my limited experience comes from. Healthcare pros that work(ed) in these fields are often anti-gun because they see first-hand the results of the carnage these wreak on the physical tissue, the patient as a whole, and the families. These pros see this more frequently and with more insight than do lay people.

    There is a similar contempt for motorcycles and motorcycle riding. I have worked around these folks from the ER nurses all the way up to the neurosurgeons. Some love guns and motorcycles and have and enjoy them regularly while most abhor both.

    • Hmm… The day after I got my insurance money from my head on motorcycle accident at a combined closing speed of 85mph, I plopped $9k (a lot of money back in the 90s) down on the fastest two wheeled machine available at the time. Gotta say, it flat out cured the flexibility issues I was having in my left knee. A lot they know.

        • A couple years prior. Kawasaki ZX9. Technically the ZX11 was faster, but weighed 70lbs more. Of course, within a couple of years I had a full Muzzy exhaust with CF can, and a Muzzy overbore piston kit and Race Tech gold valve kit. Had that bike for 9 years before I swapped it for a Triumph Daytona 955i but a couple years later the bug bit hard and I found myself on an ’05 Yamaha R1. Sadly, my joints are getting old and I’ve scaled back to a ’15 Triumph Speed Triple. I guess my days of tripling the speed limit are over. For now at least.

    • I know a lot of cops, soldiers, and marines who can say they see the same. The vast majority of them support the second amendment and would oppose any kind of civil disarmament or restriction…. As far as I’m concerned their perspective is more credible than a health care provider since they have to deal with (kill) the people who pull the triggers of those guns. These blathering professional medicos strike me as a bunch of educated idiots who invested way too much of their life in college and can’t undue to programming.

    • 65,000 to 200,000 The minimum annual number of deaths due to medical accidents, according to hospital records. For comparison: The annual total of all other causes of accidental death is 98,000, of which 46,000 are from auto crashes and 11,000 are from workplace accidents. (https://centerjd.org/cjrg/Numbers.pdf).

      All shootings: Some 13,286 people were killed in the US by firearms in 2015, according to the Gun Violence Archive. (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-34996604).

      I think that licensing doctors has not worked, we need to outlaw the medical profession completely … for the children.

  3. Very simple, misdirection. According to their own numbers, medical errors by doctors kill at least 250,000 people per year.

    Were the general public to actually fully know and understand this, something would actually be done about it. We might actually get outcomes commensurate with the insane amount of GDP we dedicate to it.

    • My ED is well armed, as we are a dumping ground for the local police department for drunk and dangerous criminals under the auspices of the famed 5150. The doctors advocating for gun control are either family practice of specialists surgeons isolated from the grit of “street medicine”, though they benefit finacially from the fallout and also have a license to carry because they are a protected class.

      The rest of us stabilize and treat, and know that there is little to nothing to be done with the surge of poverty and thug culture.

      It does not help that vets tend to end up in the ED like me.

      I would get fired for exercising my right to self defense in my hospital, but I could easily find another job and the perp would not be able to testify, and the hospital would end up paying in the end through the nose due to the poor state of our “security measures”. Not all healthcare workers are like this, I promise.

  4. Why do medical doctors refuse to accept that guns save more lives than they take? Doctors do not see the lives saved in their offices, emergency rooms, operating rooms, and morgues. They only see the deaths and injuries from criminal gun violence, suicides, and accidents. And the images they see in their professional lives are shocking, graphic, and heart-wrenching.

    When one only sees the bad, it is hard to consider the good that is so much harder to see. So it is a natural progression for doctors to decide that guns are bad. I’m not condoning it, but I think I can understand it.

    Let me say that again. I’m not condoning it, but I think I can understand it.

  5. Probably has something to do with modern academia being a brainwashing bastion of liberalism, and getting a PHD, in anything, requires immersion in the academic sub culture. I will say this, however, I have a feeling there’s a ton of doctors out there with conservative views that are essentially suppressed, because turning on the liberal elite would lead to them being “outed”, and probably lead to career ending disqualifications.

    • ^^I think this is far more common in certain professional circles than people let on, doubly so in hollywood and academia.

      • Ridiculously, it “supports a ban on firearms that cannot be detected by metal detectors”

        I, for one, would love for them to put all of their time, money, and political capital into fighting the scourge of “invisible” guns. Indeed, I think that the Glock 7 (that’s a .9mm by the way) in particular, made of porcelain, uber-expensive, invisible to metal detectors AND X-ray scanners, should be the singular focus of all their energies. Bloomberg should throw millions into the fight. Shannon Watts and the Moms can march to stop the carnage caused by the Glock 7 – “for the children.” And Capt and Mrs Gabby Giffords can help fight the “Glock 7 Loophole” with Chuck, Nancy, and DiFi. Seems a perfect investment of time for them all.

  6. The public health model of firearms is so stupid that it can only be dishonest.

    Many people will make the comparison to deaths caused by medical malpractice, but that isn’t accurate. The way the public health professionals analyze these things is equivalent to saying that X people die every year under the care of a doctor.* We should outlaw doctors. That’s as patently ridiculous when applied to doctors as it is when applied to guns. It’s like blaming doctors for a death even when the patient is being treated for a cold and is then struck and killed by lightning. I have trouble believing people who managed to obtain advanced degrees are that stupid, but I could be wrong. Maybe they are that stupid.

    To honestly evaluate something, we have to look at the costs and the benefits of that thing while ignoring the costs and benefits that have nothing to due with that thing. The public health model of firearms research looks at the costs of firearms and the irrelevant costs born by gun owners.

    *Which as a percentage, is probably pretty close to 100% of deaths annually.

  7. Organized/socialized medicine hates guns because much like academia, film, and television, it has suffered a 50+ year hijacking by Marxist cretins who want nothing less than the utter destruction of Western prosperity and culture. The Soviets called it the “medicalization of deviance,” in the sense that when the state is your nurse and doctor’s boss, people displaying X behavior or thought patterns can be adjudicated as a threat to themselves or society and locked away. Don’t believe it can happen here? Watch closely and read REAL history books.

  8. It has more to due with the fact that many of these organizations, and similar organizations such as the American Bar Association, are run by liberals and have a majority of liberals on their boards. In my experience, there is a sizeable percentage of conservatives in the ABA, but they are typically outvoted on policy issues such as guns by the board controlled by liberal lawyers from New York, Chicago and LA. The law being full of egotists (as is medicine), these people are absolutely convinced that there actions are a moral imperative and not subject to contradiction.

  9. Ir’s the hidden ball trick. While we’re busy defending against AMA gungrabbing, doctors are getting away with a million murders and assaults every year.

    Physician, fvck thyself.

  10. Where are you getting 700,000 GDUs a year? I have the actual report here and it says 2.5M GDUs. The respondents were asked about how likely it was they would have been killed and it broke down as follows…

    Almost certainly killed 15.7% or 390,000.
    Probably killed 14.2% or 350,000.
    Might have been killed 16.2% 400,000.

    More than half his respondents did not think their lives were in danger when they used guns in self defense.

    Assume all the “almost certainlys” and half the “probablys” die if they don’t defend themselves, and round all the numbers down. We get a 20% of respondents who would have died if they had not defended themselves. This means 500,000 homicide were prevented by armed potential victims in 1994. This has no relationship to reality. We do not know how many orders of magnitude Kleck and Gertz are out by. Their numbers are worthless.

    As Bill Maher points out, physicians are some of the people who have to clean up after people use guns. There are an awful lot of people out there who should not be is possession of them.

    • “Where are you getting 700,000 GDUs a year?” 1) It’s DGUs. Defensive Gun Use. I don’t know what a GDU is. 2) On page 159 of the study that is in the link in the sentence with 700,000 in it.

  11. Oh I know why so many docs are douches. GOD complex…they ASSume their proficiency in medicine extends into other areas of life. It doesn’t. I’ve known a few. Mostly in the gym. My last doctor was a combat veteran in Iraq and was decidedly NOT anti-2A. But yes he was in a tiny minority. Fight the good fight…they can kill you quicker than they you can them.

  12. Like all things that involve people there isn’t a single answer. To add to some of the above I think doctors pay attention to problems and how to fix problems. In training young physicians are put into positions where they don’t have a clue how to fix a problem and they have to come up with their own solutions. Unless something bad happens they assume their solution was the best. Often the ones that are the most wrong were the loudest. To transition this to news, media who are more likely to cover topics that agree with their own and physicians saying things that are anti gun are more likely to get air time. So it is a recall bias on our part. I think studies have shown that specialties that take care of issues that could be attributed to society (pediatricians, geriatricians, psychiatrists, infections disease) are more likely to be Democrats. Just a pro 2A MD’s opinion.

  13. Most medical “professionals” only care about money and power, just like most lawyers will screw you at the drop of a hat. They’ll play whatever side they think will give them the most money and power. They’ll vote Democrat to accelerate the degradation and degeneration of urban areas with virtue-signalling “diversity” crap while voting Republican on other levels to get tax breaks and and more leeway jack up hospital bills. They are the most corrupt people imaginable.

  14. Bad boys, bad boys. Whatcha gonna do, you say you don’t gottem but the doctor he kno you do. Bad boys bad boys whatcha gonna do when they come for you.. . The Feds are using every avenue they can to gain information of gun ownership. IMO, In about 30 years $hits going to hit the fan,. One concern robot soldiers, what happens to warfare when there is no longer the human element,? and that’s just a branch on the tree. It’s disarming the gun owners now for the future

  15. Strange, I know a lot of docs as a crna, they either tend to be very much into guns or neutral it seems. Lost track of how many are into NFA stuff as well and want deregulation. I am in the South though.

  16. “Why does organized medicine abhor gun ownership?”

    Oh, I don’t know, maybe because so many M.D.s and Ph.D.s have GINORMOUS egos and superiority complexes?

    Those ginormous egos and superiority complexes result in the mindset that “they know what is best for us”, and need not consider anything that we say. It should be readily apparent, then, that it is next to impossible to break through something like that.

  17. Guns reveal the ugly truth of what doctors themselves are doing. A medical mistake is a Freudian slip, a gun wound is the naked truth.

  18. I regularly see docs at the range. Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership accepts most licensed health care providers. Not sure how you define “Organized Medicine” But the front line providers ae at least 50% active shooters.

  19. I was extremely disappointed to the core when I saw an anti-gun, pro-gun control article on the front page of the Science website one day when I was poking around for any interesting articles.

    I was horrified honestly. I had expected Science to not poke around with politics (particularly since guns are largely a US topic of contention, so it was like airing your dirty laundry with the rest of the world about your family members), and on top of that, its posting with Science essentially makes it say that “this article in a journal of this Impact Factor is correct,” when it was a terribly biased article (at best, it was the same correlation-causation problems that gun statistics have where people pick and choose data which supports their conclusions without going over significance).

    I’m honestly not sure I want to keep my Science subscription.

    • In my experience, most, if not all of the social media sites/pages that use the word “science” in their titles are industry pages pushing misinformation with corporate/statist agendas.

  20. Organized medicine is officially 3rd leading cause of death of USA, and depending on which sources you use, it is the title holder of #1 cause of death in the USA. Who cares what organized medicine thinks?

  21. “Organized medicine” doesn’t hate guns and making statements like this can create it, just like fake news can influence public opinion. Pretty irresponsible to publish generalization statements like this. Then the comment section turns into a neanderthal chest beating insult contest toward doctors and their egos? You guys have had too much lead exposure. This is literally the stupidest thing I’ve read on this site as I personally know more doctors who are pro-2A and have gun collections than those who don’t.

    • Ok, you had your 20 seconds of soap box time….time for reality check. Agree MOST MD’s are decent people with good intentions. At the same time, it takes massive cognitive dissonance for the profession to NOT realize they are being used as one of the primary vehicles used by special interests to push for increased state/corporate control over the public. Most Md’s in my opinion have an idea what is going on, but they make the choice to not want to know. This does not excuse them from partaking in the medical/pharmaceutical holocaust that has been brought to the American public.

    • “The AMA, the American College of Physicians, the American College of Surgeons, and even the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery have all” come out against actual common sense gun laws deregulating silencers. Anyone who opposes the deregulation of silencers is either an idiot, someone who is extremely anti poaching, someone who wants to get rid of guns, or some combination of those things.

      Read Dr. Wheeler’s article, in which he points to many examples of prominent medical organizations taking anti-gun actions, before you declare that organized medicine doesn’t hate guns.

  22. Organized medicine loves gun control because more violence means more injuries, which means more money for them. ALL people, including charitable institutions, love money. The more the better, regardless of the human costs. Its really that simple.

  23. I’m not sure about the other med. orgs. listed in the original article, but consider the AMA. My understanding is that many decades ago this was a real doctors org., with something like 80% of docs as members. Today I believe only 10 to 20% of docs are members. So what does the AMA do to earn its keep? They are the gatekeeper and publisher of the gov./insurance company codes used to itemize ailments and treatments for insurance coverage. This is essentially a big gov. operation, or at least its funding is.

    Similar scams are: police union bosses who support left wing pols for an election. You are supposed to think that the police generally supports this person, but they usually don’t. The PTA. It’s about the parents right? Well, they are welcome to attend and comment, but the leaders usually come from the ranks of retired teachers union leadership.

  24. Because they don’t have the math skills to do real science, evidenced by the fact that they constantly claim to “see the carnage first hand…”

    Only those who are SHOT see it first hand, mate. Some emergency worker or other sees it SECOND hand when they drag them to the hospital, at which point you stroll in to see it THIRD hand.

  25. I am a retired trauma surgeon, and I think I can speak to at least part of the mental disorder that has infected many physicians. A huge majority of physicians are libtards and worship at the altar of political correctness. They believe the fake news media. They also project their fears on others as well. You would think that such intelligent people would be smarter than this, but they are not.

  26. When I want a physician’s opinion, I make an appointment. That said, a doctor’s opinion on guns or the best way to play handball is no more valid nor wanted than the opinion of the bus driver, on the same matters.

  27. The article title is completely wrong; there’s not one word in the article about why medical organizations disparage gun ownership – only that they do, and why they are wrong. The article merely repeats info that’s appeared in many other pro-gun expositions – all good, but not on-topic.

    All of the conjecture about doctors’ motivations appear in the comments by readers.

  28. It mirrors The Socialist Democratic National party from WW 2 Germany.. Also, known a the Nazis party…Where the Healthcare industry was paired with the politics of the Nazis party. They the German people Anti-smoking, and Alcohol type prohibitions—expect for “protected classes, like the soliders, and German officers in the field…It brought great medical advances in Trauma medicine through the experimentation on political, and concentration camp prisoners…You might remember a German Doctor named; Mangala! So, here we have it, history repeating itself once again…And showing us the very dangers of mixing politics, and medicine…..!

  29. The leftist pacifist bias in medicine is evident if you looked at the BMJ article in the lead up to the Iraq War that it would cause several hundred thousand civilian causalities. That was published in a peer-reviewed scientifically renowned medical journal. The real death toll for non-combatants was a tiny fraction of that. Medical professionals should stick to what they are trained to do, namely medical care; not political posturing, virtue signaling, or outlandish predictions where they have no expertise.

    Remember that when they try to tell you to give up your guns that their silly activism is a boundary violation and they are ignorant on the subject and should be told to shut up.

  30. You have two different groups within “medical professionals”. You have people treating victims and you have the academics. they have two different motives for being anti gun.

    1) When it comes to everyday medical professionals they are influenced by witnessing or hearing of trauma. They see or hear of gunshot trauma. a) Since they are trained to look for “direct agency” of injury or pathology they see the gun/bullet as the agent of violence. It does not even occur to them that the criminal who did the shooting is the agent. More importantly, b) the negative corollary, people NOT harmed because, they had a firearm to protect themselves is not personally witnessed or conveyed by anecdote .

    Also, c) imagine if you would, people coming into trauma centers with tags that said “Killed by the fourth amendment” or “severely wounded due to the fifth amendment.” Or more simply 90% of murder victims coming in with a tag that said “harmed by a released criminal — who would still have been in jail if not for left wing judges’ left sentences.” Or “gang member” or “harmed by gang member” they would start seeing the real underlying agency in criminal violence. They simply never do.

    2) the academics specializing in firearms epidemiology/study are a) not just doing “public health” but this newer much more policy-political concept of “population health.” They are empowered, have more funding, more influence by taking positions. They get published, reviewed, quoted — and funded. News media calls them for their opinion. Bloomberg will toss their insitution $10 million.

  31. It’s quite simple, (((they))) make up the overwhelming majority of that “Social Welfare (& Justice)” profession, (((they))) hate themselves, (((they))) hate Israel (which wouldn’t exist if not for firearms), (((they))) really hate US (Conservatives & Gun Owners), (((they))) hate our Constitution, (((they))) hate our Bill of Rights especially the 2nd Amendment which prevents (((them)) from imposing their will upon us, (((they))) are Bolsheviks, the fact is (((they))) must be destroyed if we are to survive, flourish, and multiply.

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