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Dr. Art Caplan (courtesy

We recently bestowed our Gun Hero of the Day award to health care consultant Vikram Khanna [not shown]. We did so after reading his defense of armed self-defense at Apparently we weren’t the only ones reading his work. Dr. Art Caplan [above] fired off a riposte, published in the same journal under the headline What is it With Gun Rights Proponents? “Vik Khanna is the latest man with a gun to write squealing in terror before the kale crunching, fitbit wearing hordes of public health types who he is somehow sure are out to disarm him and, even more hilariously, have any chance of doing so.” Snide much? Oh yeah, Caplan’s got that down to a fine art . . .

Vik, buddy, no one and especially the roughly 28 folks in public health not completely distracted by their lack of funding and inability to secure tenure is capable of doing anything that will pry your gun from your warm-blooded grip. There is no political movement to take away anyone’s guns. The NRA is the mightiest lobbying outfit in these United States and the best Mike Bloomberg or Bill Gates are going to be able to do is to get the anti-gun lobby a few more op-eds and soundbites.

Vik stop being afraid of your critics. You hold all the bullets er … cards. Time to think harder. Do public health folks have anything to offer that might reduce the mayhem while letting you hunt deer or shoot partridge or blast targets or whatever it is you and your son like to do with your guns?

Dr. Caplan goes on to give his Rx for firearms-concerned physicians: convince gun-owning patients to lock up their guns and wear hi-viz clothing while hunting, support smart guns, teach people to de-gun the house if someone’s mentally ill and train kids what to do if they find a gun. Not entirely unreasonable. Only Caplan’s rant doesn’t answer the questions posed by Khanna. And it sure ain’t coming from a place of love.

I could go on but I have to walk out to my Prius so I can go to the store and buy some gluten-free pasta to feed a few of my public health pals before we do our evening Bikram yoga. I won’t be seeing you at the shooting-range. There are too many kids gripping Uzis there for my comfort. Oops Sorry. Didn’t mean to make you think I was gonna try and restrict any 9-year-olds right to fire automatic weapons.

Mr. Khanna emailed TTAG to ask for some support from our readers in the comments section [click here]. But I don’t think he needs it. Here’s his reply from said comments section.

Charles Vacca’s death was a tragedy that deeply affected two families. His judgment error, allowing a 9-year-old girl to fire an automatic weapon, cost him his life and who knows what it will cost her and her family emotionally and psychologically. No one knows yet how his death will change practices at gun ranges. While I wish Mr. Vacca had made a different decision at the range on that day, I credit him for the kind of family he raised. His kids have sent the girl a video letter talking about how they grieve for her, which makes for a stark contrast to this remarkably churlish use of the event as a point of derision.

I thank Art for reiterating all my points about the critical role education plays in gun safety. I will go a step farther than he does — the ministers Art points to, many of whom likely lead congregations in poor, urban communities that are predominantly minority and plagued by violence — should also spend some time talking about the value of intact families, creating a community culture that rewards and venerates work, and helping young people finish school to boost their economic viability. Oh, the schools stink? Well, then expand the dialogue about charter schools, magnet schools, and school choice.

I’ll wager anytime all those things will do much more to alter the environmental dynamics that drive criminal gun violence than the playschool policymaking of assault weapons bans and similar legislative detritus that clog already dysfunctional state houses and the Congress. Maryland banned so-called Saturday Night Specials in 1988, and 26 years later Baltimore remains one of our most unsafe cities. Ironically, the day after my essay, the lordly NY Times published an essay acknowledging that the assault weapons ban amounted to nothing.

The essay ended with this observation by crime prevention expert David Kennedy of John Jay College: “A closer look at the social networks of neighborhoods most afflicted, he says, often shows that only a small number of men drive most of the violence. Identify them and change their behavior, and it’s possible to have an immediate impact.”

Regarding keeping firearms out of the hands of the mentally ill, I will speak directly from experience. My father was deeply mentally ill, so much so that he was effectively dysfunctional and completely socially isolated from the time I was 7, until his death 30 years later. He had suicidal ideation. And, although part of a long line of military officers, he did not own firearms.

I am quite certain that my mother would have never allowed one in our home because she understood full well what she was dealing with. Should we raise awareness of this dilemma? Absolutely, but it must be done in a way that it is medically credible and respects the privacy and dignity of the people who need help while protecting the rest of us.

Unfortunately, some of these steps will, by necessity, require government participation, and recent experience suggest we should tread lightly. Let’s not forget this administration’s hallmark firearms achievement, Fast and Furious, which released 2,000 weapons, many already used in crimes, into the hands of criminals.

And, just this week, we are treated to the news that the Obama administration is sending armored vehicles, military rifles, and grenade launchers to school districts…who don’t want them, can’t secure them, and did not ask for them in the first place.

As farmer Hoggett said, that’ll do.

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  1. This Dr. Caplan is a complete boob, if he thinks that writing what he wrote will affect any of us. There is already too much proof to mark him as a lunatic. I’ll never go to him for any type of treatment. He is delusional if he really thinks what he wrote. Of course gun control freaks do not normally make much sense, living in their fantasy world.

    Just sayin’.

  2. Why won’t the Dr. Caplans of the medical profession get over their weird obsession with “gun violence”, when a far greater death rate results from their own medical mistakes? Approximately 98,000 people every year are killed by PREVENTABLE medical errors. Where is the AMA-endorsed outrage over this carnage? And will gun owners be able to sue their doctor for medical malpractice when his/her advice to disarm is followed by a home invasion robbery?

    How about a new slogan for the Bloomberg Mommies: “Guns don’t kill people, doctors do.”

    And why shouldn’t I blame all medical professionals for the deadly errors of a few? That’s accepted practice for doctors who oppose gun ownership.

    • Perhaps the “Healthcare Fascists” could spend a bit more time on eliminating Hospital infection rates. A solvable problem within their span of control and responsibility.

    • Upon further research, it turns out that those numbers from 15 years ago were under-reported, and the latest numbers indicate upwards of 440,000 die each year from medical malpractice. Solve your own problems first, then worry about others!!

    • Yes, it seems like the best thing that Caplan can do to improve health would be to mind his own house first:

      Deaths due to Accidental Discharge of Firearms

      Total = 591

      <1 = 4
      1-4 = 25
      5-14 = 45
      15-24 = 130
      25-34 = 86
      35-44 = 66
      45-54 = 87
      55-64 = 64
      65-74 = 46
      75-84 = 30
      85+ = 8

      Deaths due to Complications from Medical or Surgical Care

      Total = 2,584

      <1 = 19
      1-4 = 22
      5-14 = 13
      15-24 = 46
      25-34 = 62
      35-44 = 121
      45-54 = 262
      55-64 = 411
      65-74 = 535
      75-84 = 634
      85+ = 459

      CDC mortality rates, 2011:

    • F*cking winner post right here.

      Dr. Caplan, for all his schooling, needs to attend remedial critical thinking and statistics.

      Lol, he is an f-ing joke .

  3. I just assumed the smug bastard in the pic was Caplan, assumption correct. and that assumption was made before be joked about a 9yo murdering someone /facepalm, the comments section of that article is pretty dismal.

    • Yeah, I don’t get that. The Uzi story was a (and is a continuing) tragedy [Glen Beck played a tear-jerker of an audio clip the other day of the instructor’s brave kids giving the little girl their hope that she quickly absolve herself and find closure].

      Some Brit news agency reported that the instructor authorized the little girl to fire one round (semi-auto mode) and, after having done so, the little girl attempted to put the weapon on “safe” (instead selecting full-auto) and accidently pulling the trigger. But I don’t know. Either way, despite the terrible outcome, I am personally happy that someone took their kid to the range, and hope it out-paces baseball as a national pastime.

      As a further aside, Dr.’s with their personally owned general aviation aircraft probably kill more people than guns every year (or at least the deaths are more preventable).

  4. I’m amazed that the anti’s done recognize their lack of valid arguments. Their tactic – ad hominem attacks.

    Weak and sad.

  5. Caplan’s comments are noting more than lame agitprop. The best thing Vik can do is to refuse to play. Responding in kind to Caplan’s I’m-cooler-than-you-are digs will just lead to a pissin’ contest which will, as Caplan intends, serve to completely obscure the cogent points Kik made in his article. The best response is to calmly and forthrightly reiterate the core arguments of the article while completely ignoring the personal sideswipes. When you speak truth to power, power begins to fade. Caplan’s snide comments were written out of fear and loathing. Both are signals that he feels weakness.

  6. “There is no political movement to take away anyone’s guns.” There’s not? Really? You sure?

    “The NRA is the mightiest lobbying outfit in these United States…” You sure about that too? You might be surprised how little the NRA spends in comparison to groups like, I don’t know, say, Planned Parenthood.

    • In the 2013-2014 campaign cycle, the NRA has spent about $708K in campaign contributions and about $2.25 million in lobbying. Over the same period, records show Planned Parenthood has spent $1.055 million in campaign contributions and $700K in lobbying. Data comes from the Center for Responsive Politics’ review of FEC records.

      You’re right, though, the NRA’s spending doesn’t even rank it within the top 50 of influence groups. Planned Parenthood, on the other hand, as part of the health professionals segment, ranks #4, with over $30 million in contributions this cycle.

      If the NRA is punching above its weight, it’s because of the passion and activism of its five million members, not its spending. That’s not corruption, that’s just democracy.

  7. Didn’t check, but I assume Dr. Caplan is a proctologist. Guessing that he has had his cranium inserted in his rectum for quite some time.

  8. I’ll perhaps listen to what Art Caplan has to say about guns and health, just as soon as he proposes ways to deal with cars and health, and swimming pools and health. After all, he’s a doctor; I’m sure he’s well-acquainted with the Pareto principle.

  9. If I were a Dr or some other public health pro, I’d be pretty embarrassed by Caplan’s remarks pretending to speak on my behalf. He comes across as an ignorant preening hypocrite, nothing like the Docs I know.

  10. Once again Dr. Caplan and the elitist “educated” are on full display for all to see. When they don’t have a coherent argument, they resort to they only thing they know; name calling & sarcasm.

  11. Vikram Kanna’s reply in the comments to Art Caplan’s post was remarkably well-articulated. Caplan’s attempt to draw feelings of support for the small army of anti-2nd amendment “Public Health” would-be professionals, including “the roughly 28 folks in public health not completely distracted by their lack of funding and inability to secure tenure” …fails completely to arouse in me even the slightest sympathy. On the gun issue the entire public health grant-consuming cabal has proven spineless, able only to whine about guns to inspire grant approvals, while too cowardly to point to the actual locus of homicide and mayhem, the urban ghettos wholly led by and under the control of the very liberals who think an urban cultural problem should be addressed by taking away the handguns and sporting rifles of the entire nation’s middle class.

    It is for me a sobering reflection, that the self-anointed gun-rights restriction mandarins would have the public soaking in fear-bred sweat over the actions of a few crazy shooters, while running virtually no ads highlighting the thousand-times greater bloodletting by urban creeps, those who kill in cold blood to defend drug-selling turf and reputation as enforcers. These same creeps go to bed every night in the same neighborhoods they plague, and the neighbors and parents do….not much. “Let the police do it. I’m not risking my neck!” The Public Health industry is all too much about Public Money, too rarely about health. We need more physicians in the ghettos. Let the Art Caplans of the nation hang their shingles there, but without gun or bodyguard, this to affirm their own dogma, that a gun would mainly be a risk to their own health.

  12. He’s a bioethicist. The term “ethicist” implies to me that a practitioner of that field is a sober, mature leader, not a juvenile snarkmeister.

  13. So Caplan says that the medical profession and public health isn’t interested in or capable of going after gun rights? That’s odd, because the AMA seems to be trying to do exactly that:

    “Gun Violence
    Gun violence in America has reached epidemic proportions and the horrific school shootings in Newtown, CT, has increased the sense of urgency to find workable solutions to reduce the epidemic of gun violence and the culture of violence in America. In a January 8, 2013 letter to the President and Congressional leaders, the AMA along with 51 other national specialty societies and state medical societies urged the nation to strengthen its commitment and resources to improve comprehensive access to mental health services including screening, prevention and treatment. The letter acknowledges that while the vast majority of patients with mental illness are not violent, physicians and other health professionals must be trained to respond to those who have a mental illness that might make them more prone to commit violence. Based on long-time AMA-HOD policy, the letter also calls for renewing and strengthening the assault weapons ban, including banning high-capacity magazines. AMA supports S. 150, the “Assault Weapons Ban of 2013,” which was introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).”

    • These people just have to be imbeciles. They continue to point to Sandy Hook as an impetus to do something or other. The first thing they should try, if that’s the case, is passing a law against murdering your mother to gain access to her legally purchased firearms. Assuming they figure out that will not help anything (DUH!), there is only one thing which WOULD have made a difference, armed teachers. Why are they not advocating that loudly and everywhere? Background checks, universal or otherwise, had zero to do with Sandy Hook, yet was instantly tossed out there by the liar-in-chief, and that side does not seem able to get over it. Clearly the issue had been decided on long before, and he/they were just waiting for a bloody shirt to wave, with “we have to do SOMETHING”, since they think that sounds better than admitting that what they actually want is the registration that would accompany UBC, to facilitate confiscation. “We’re not after your guns” should prompt “Then what are you after, since UBC will accomplish nothing?”

    • Dr. Caplan’s “ripost” is critically flawed, and misinformed. One huge misstatement is the “The NRA is the mightiest lobbying outfit in these United States”, I believe this is meant to create some sort of flawed David vs. Goliath mystique. The problem is the facts don’t support it. Somewhat surprisingly if you believed the BS from Caplan. The NRA is not even on the “top spender” list at $1,880,000 for 2014. While the American Medical Association is 2nd on the list. As Kyle in CT pointed out, the AMA is actively Anti-Gun.

      Lobbying Client Total (from
      US Chamber of Commerce $1,095,795,680
      American Medical Assn $310,047,500
      General Electric $304,790,000
      National Assn of Realtors $282,046,256
      American Hospital Assn $264,177,280
      Pharmaceutical Rsrch & Mfrs of America $259,336,420
      Blue Cross/Blue Shield $237,777,678
      AARP $236,782,064
      Northrop Grumman $216,112,213
      Exxon Mobil $201,862,742
      Boeing Co $195,192,310
      Verizon Communications $193,860,043
      Lockheed Martin $192,247,911
      Business Roundtable $191,210,000
      Edison Electric Institute $187,386,789
      AT&T Inc $173,755,644
      National Cable & Telecommunications Assn $170,400,000
      Southern Co $165,070,694
      National Assn of Broadcasters $157,270,000
      Altria Group $152,475,200


  14. Just got a malicious redirect from this article. Fairly realistic looking copy of a adobe flash update screen. Would have fooled me if I wasn’t such a nerd. Using Chrome on Windows 7.

    • Good catch. I got that same thing yesterday. I thought Chrome, and even I.E., for that matter, auto updated Adobe flash player. So there’s never a need to manually update per some popup’s direction. Quick trip to Adobe’s site confirmed my understanding, so I just closed and ignored the popup without downloading anything.

  15. The Sheriff of Cape May County, NJ, recounted the following story. Shortly after he assumed his office an armed robber discarded the gun he used in a crime. (No surprise, this is NJ.) One child found the gun and showed it to a playmate. Knowing not the first thing about guns (no surprise, this is NJ) one child killed the other.
    This Sheriff took a common-sense approach to this tragedy. He personally called on every elementary school in his county and urged them to introduce the NRA’s Eddie Eagle program into the curriculum. Every school did so. (Remember, this is NJ!)
    If public health “professionals” had half the sense of this NJ Sheriff they would make a positive contribution to children’s safety that could prevent such tragedies. Don’t public health “professionals” believe in education?

    • Indeed.

      Mark, if the Repubs manage to win the Senate in Oct., one bill I want to see dropped on Obama’s desk is one that forces every grade school to teach the elements of the Eddie Eagle program. I’m fine if they don’t use the character Eddie, just the teaching points.

      The first REAL gun safety law.

      I want to hear Obama’s excuse for not signing that bill into law.

  16. “There is no political movement to take away anyone’s guns.”

    The finest trick of the Civil Disarmament Lobby is to persuade you that it does not exist.

  17. The interesting thing about the anti-2A movement is that the lower ranks sincerely believe that “gun sense” in the end goal. Only the people at the top really know the agenda, which is the Australian model. Even if it’s not logistically possible, that is what they are aiming for. They’ve made no secret of it either. Google around a bit, a statistically significant amount of politicians, business leaders, and cultural influencers are on record for supporting confiscation.

    We can’t rest on our laurels of “well, there’s 300 million guns…”, because that kind of complacency makes things end badly.

  18. I think Mr. Khanna did a spectacular, professional, polite rebuttal. It probably fell on deaf ears because it did not include an emotional appeal to ignore logic and just make the common sense (but ineffective) changes.

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