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By Arthur Z. Przebinda, MD

A common adage in the gun owners’ sphere is that a gun is not a talisman. This pithy phrase is used to emphasize the fact that possession does not equal competence.

Picking up a firearm does not instantly turn a novice into John Wick. One must be practiced and proficient both in marksmanship and administrative handling to be safe and effective with a firearm.

This basic concept seems lost on public health anti-gun crusader Dr. Garen Wintemute (himself a self-professed gun owner).

In treating an inanimate object as the de facto source and cause of violence, public health hoplophobes like Wintemute ascribe magical powers to a mechanical tool.

This trope is not new.

In 1977, Saturday Night Live, with the help of Richard Pryor and Robin Williams took much artistic license to portray guns as possessing various personalities, from demonic to jumpy to seductive, tempting people with sinister thoughts.

In the late 1990’s Showtime ran a series titled Dead Man’s Gun. Described by Wikipedia as “…a western anthology series…[that]… followed the travels of a gun as it passed to a new character in each episode” ultimately serving as a critical change agent in the characters’ lives.

The Showtime series seemed to give some honest treatment to human nature. The outcome of each episode wasn’t predictable. The gun was not an evil, corrupting force exerting its powers on otherwise innocent and pure individuals. The Saturday Night Live skit, on the other hand, dispenses with nuance. It imbues the gun with agency and power over people.

This is the view of guns that people like Wintemute want the public to swallow. They want people to believe that an inanimate mechanical object has the magical powers of a talisman.

This idea is critical to the ultimate goal of public health hoplophobes: greatly (if not completely) restricting access to guns and the unfettered exercise of the right to keep and bear arms.

While they give passing lip service to “alcohol and drug abuse, mental illness, and the social factors that determine risk for violence, substance abuse, and mental illness“, the bulk of their work reveals an obsession with restricting magazine capacity, restricting access to semiautomatic firearms and a host of other policies that constitute a gun controller’s wish list.

The rejection of psychological, sociological and criminological factors as foremost contributors of “gun violence” is the bedrock on which public health advocacy research rests. That is why all public health work on the matter portrays guns and gun ownership as the determining factor in whatever societal ill we’d all like to see alleviated.

Public health must disregard social, economic and mental health factors for its advocacy to be coherent. In this paradigm, the gun must be the singular, independent, causative factor with its tentacles around the people.

Many people see through this strategy. They know that the portrayal of the gun as a corrupting force, an evil talisman, is essential to the public health anti-gun crusade. As uncommon_sense commented on a republication of one of my articles on The Truth About Guns website:

“In their minds all research HAS to be for gun control. Ergo, a ban on research for gun control means a ban on all research. What this shows is that gun-grabbers have ZERO interest in the truth. Rather, their only interest is promoting their agenda, facts be damned!”

It’s easier to solve a problem with a singular cause. And it’s easier to get popular and political support for issues with a single, clearly “demonstrated” cause. If plagued by a cursed talisman, the first thing to do is to divorce oneself from the talisman; burn it, smash it, throw it in the river.

If the cause of a social problem is a particular tool or technology, the “cure” is to ban possession of that tool or technology by the general population. David Hemenway tells us (here, around the 0:30:00 mark) that “gun violence” can be solved in this way.

The end goal here is to get more people to believe that if there are no guns there will be no gun violence – or any violence for that matter. Forteen-year-old boys won’t be killed and gangs will have dance-offs to settle turf disputes.

By shifting to a public health approach to “gun violence research”, medical hoplophobes get to disregard psychological, sociological and criminological factors. Giving those issues due consideration and fair examination isn’t just fraught with politically incorrect implications.

It’s not just financially unsound for a grant-dependent, agenda-driven advocate. It takes the wind out of their sails by pointing to the benefit side of the gun equation—the empowerment, freedom, and affirmation of dignity that this lifesaving defensive tool provides.


Arthur Z Przebinda, MD is an imaging specialist in Southern California. He advocates for the Second Amendment in his state and nationally and since 2017 serves as DRGO’s Project Director. 

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

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  1. They’re getting paid to be useful idiots / useful tools.

    They’re willfully on the wrong side, and are lumped together with the gun-grabbing perps.

    • I just read your excellent linked article, Dr. P., and was glad I did. Well said. I look forward to parts 2 and 3.

  2. I must buy the wrong sort of firearms. None have ever made me do anything.

    Except the new rifle I brought home yesterday it’s saying put the new scope on me and take me to the range. But work stopping that today.

  3. The left sounds like the ten year old boy who thinks certain tennis shoes will make him run faster. They view inanimate objects as having powers to help or influence people.

    Seems like I have heard a phrase that applies…..liberalism is a mental disease.

    • It’s an affliction that pays well. Dr. Wintenmute was given a $5 million grant by the state of California to fund his “research,” which presumably will be re-funded annually by fees charged to gun buyers. And the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health took in $1 billion from Mr. Bloomberg to fund its anti gun research (and to name the school after him too).

  4. So murder and mayhem were considered mental health or crime problems until Wintemutt (or whatever his name is) came along and bullshitted the whole country?

    What a turkey.

  5. Gun buying is at an all time high, and actual violence in which a gun is employed (i.e., excluding accidents and suicides) is at nearly an all time low, both numerically and as a percentage of the population. How does one establish causation from an inverse correlation?

    Not that it matters much. “Gun violence” research is research with a pre-determined outcome. How very scientific.

    • Suicide is misapplied. People will commit suicide by knife, poison, carbon monoxide, leaping off high places, death by cop, etc. Even the CDC lists it as a separate data block. Of course, the anti-gun folks also include justifiable shootings in order to pad their data.

    • Correlation does not prove causation (“more guns = more crime”).

      But correlation can DISPROVE causation.

  6. Wintemute is “a pioneer in the field of injury epidemiology,” which is an oxymoron. Injury epidemiology doesn’t exist. Injuries are not diseases. Applying the same type of statistical analysis to guns, swimming pools, ladders, vehicles, drug overdoses, and infectious agents may be useful on occasion, but this guy — and a lot of people like him — seem to have mistaken a particular way of using for the essential nature of the thing itself.

    He’s a pioneer in a field of research built on a massive failure of logic and perception — enough to make everything he’s ever done suspect by association.

    • They are already ahead of you on this argument. “Epidemiology is the study and analysis of the patterns, causes, and effects of health and disease conditions in defined populations. It is the cornerstone of public health, and shapes policy decisions and evidence-based practice by identifying risk factors for disease and targets for preventive healthcare.” They have defined “gun violence” as a public health care issue, and therefore it may be studied in the same way as any other disease, i.e., statistically, identifying the target population by incidence of the “disease,” and then developing programs to reduce it.

      • I don’t know how that means they’re ahead of me. They’re just chock full of bullshit and people don’t see it. They don’t even see it themselves.

        Key words: disease and healthcare. Guns are not a disease, and public health is not healthcare.

        If they understand the massive failure of logic they’re involved in, then they’re sociopaths and charlatans running a con game with totalitarian power as the prize. Either way, they deserve the same kind of respect I’d give to a rabid trash panda.

  7. As long as his profession claims the title to 3rd leading cause of death in the USA, while at the same time quietly supporting a unversial, one size fits all vaccine policy which has NEVER been evaluated for safety, his opinions, as well as his peers will be the definition of hypocrisy when it comes to promoting the public good.

  8. Although it looks like it, this was not a Saturday Night Live sketch. It was from the short-lived Richard Pryor Show on NBC.

  9. “…the bulk of their work reveals an obsession with restricting magazine capacity, restricting access to semiautomatic firearms and a host of other policies that constitute a gun controller’s wish list.” No, constitutes the FIRST LAYER of a gun controller’s wish list. Then, when none of those things stop the violence, which is simply not going to happen, then they will come back for even more stringent gun control laws, and later, to restrict other weapons, as well. Their ultimate goal is to make the peasantry disarmed and defenseless, and thus more compliant to the whims and wishes of political elites. One need only look at the bulk of Europe or to Australia to see the model in action.

  10. Well, with that redefinition of epidemiology, health care and disease, they’ve given themselves quite a field promotion, haven’t they?(*)

    Somehow, I feel less like an autonomous person they’re providing a service, and more like one unrematkable head in a herd they manage for somebody else. I wonder who’s crop we are – Dr. Sheep Dip there doesn’t say.

    (*) I know the profession has been scope-creeping its own definition forever. Just because they want it, doesn’t mean we have to agree with it.

    The right answer is: “Well, defined that way, I don’t want any.”

    “But to be fair, I’ll listen to your argument when you have the various V Ds, Sars & zitka under control, T B ain’t making a comeback, nobody dies of flu any more (or at least there’s enough vaccine doses of the right strains every year) and “superbugs” aren’t a thing. And maybe take care of the other herpes, too.”

    “I realize having learned to wrangle some statistics, you think you have super powers. Hate to deflate yr self-esteem, but for the more numerate of us that sort of stats ain’t any big deal. I could name a couple techniques beyond basic correlation, more or less mandatory in the case you’d like to make. But, that isn’t my job, here. It is yours, so any numbers pitch that doesn’t properly use the appropriate techniques I’ll just reject out of hand.”

    “Meanwhile, how about using those stats to tell me, your customer, how you are doing in the things I have asked for.”

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