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By Robert B. Young, MD

We know that American firearm sales have dramatically increased since the spread of SARS-Cov-2 (COVID-19, coronavirus, etc.). This study’s methodology is nothing to write home about. Their total population was 1,432 of whom 263 bought guns “during the pandemic.”

A randomly selected, nationwide sample that size might have been meaningful, but it was neither. It did turn up a fairly broad range of respondents, but they were self-selected by choosing to self-administer an online survey. So the results are skewed and cannot represent the U.S. population. It was “administered” at the end of May, asking about decisions since February.

With those caveats, the survey found that “Firearm buyers differed statistically significantly . . . from non-buyers based on sex, age, ethnicity, marital status, education, having children at home, employment status, income, political orientation, location, and region of residence” and in perception of the societal impact of increased firearm ownership. Most of the differences follow well-known patterns. The more interesting discriminants were that “young, single, urban dwellers, healthcare professionals, and Hispanics were more likely to have purchased a firearm.”

That being “employed in healthcare professions” was the third highest correlation of their 18 predictor variables with purchasing a firearm aroused our curiosity. In “Health Care Workers Help Drive Gun Surge, New Study Says,” Stephen Gutowski reports that 69% of those purchasing firearms were healthcare professionals. My knowledge of statistics doesn’t pull that number from the study analysis, but it certainly is substantially more than any of us imagined. Congratulations to Gutowski or his source for finding that interesting tidbit amid all the rather expectable findings that were highlighted by the authors.

The question is…why? As we all began to realize the early impact of this virus, health care personnel knew they were going to be overwhelmed. Recall New York City’s severe infection, illness, and death rates from March and April. It was bad everywhere until we began learning not to over-ventilate COVID pneumonias, that there were frequent blood clotting problems perhaps couples with a degree of general vasculitis, that treating the immune response is key to recovery, etc. During this time, selfless nurses, doctors, and other health care professionals answered the call from hard-hit urban areas (especially NYC), traveling there in order to relieve stressed out local staff.

These were scary times, and deciding to enter places described as “war zones” included questioning one’s personal safety. And perhaps taking measures to try to ensure that, as well as our families for those of us overworked at home. We in health care may have found it easy then to anticipate a virtual zombie apocalypse, as this plague was threatening to infect and kill a large portion of the population in short order.

Thank God it didn’t, thanks to the inconsistent lethality of this virus and the common sense of people enduring plagues over millennia, to mask up and avoid close contact.

In addition, we suspect that highly variable gun laws from state to state reduced the numbers of providers who were willing to temporarily relocate to serve the inundated areas. NYC was particularly undesirable to anyone who relied on carry for self-protection, since it essentially prohibits that for all. But the patchwork of laws and varying reciprocity similarly blocked too many volunteers who would otherwise have been glad to help.

Minneapolis crime riot police
(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Beyond that, who knows? George Floyd was killed May 25, which set off our “summer of love” and violence in the streets, which has given further cause for fear and preparation. That occurred just as the survey was being taken, but it shouldn’t have affected the number of gun purchases reported during preceding months.

DRGO hopes that medical personnel are waking to the fact that our sort of work makes us highly vulnerable to assault. As a group, ER staff are at highest risk, as they take over the care of sometimes confused, upset, agitated patients without further help from the police who brought them in. Within the specialties, psychiatrists like me are at greatest risk of harm, since we usually treat the mentally ill one-to-one without ready help available, especially in our own offices.

A corollary worry of ours on which Dr. John Edeen is particularly focused is the likelihood of terrorist attacks on medical institutions. These have already occurred many places internationally, and it is only a matter of diminishing time before U.S. hospitals and care facilities are targeted.

Even in the era of COVID precautions, limiting visitor access and stationing unarmed “security” at access points means nothing to a couple of vehicles worth of well-armed fanatics eager to die for their cause with as many bodies as they can accompany. Insiders are all too often part of these plots as well.

Once inside, they’ll find hundreds of undefended, disarmed victims to garner, many essentially disabled and sitting ducks. I am encouraged by one of my area’s largest hospitals employing more and more armed security, but that is still a rarity across the medical world.

The article’s authors, of course, conclude by worrying about the general increase in legally owned firearms, recommending . . . what? Additional gun laws!

Our bottom line remains that being prepared to fight is the best bet to prevail if and when the fight comes to you. As important is to be able to protect the vulnerable people who trust us to care for them and, in extremis, vigorously defending them too.

DRGO Editor Robert B. Young, MD 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 article originally appeared at and is reprinted here with permission. 

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  1. Self protection is a basic human drive regardless of your profession, social status or IQ numbers. Firearms just happen to be the smartest way to protect yourself and your loved ones.

    Gun control has never been about crime. It has always been about the subjugation of people. Any person preaching gun control is one speech away from crimes against humanity.

  2. Are we still going to see more bias anti gun doctor studies?

    I wonder if they are going to see the light of having the 2A as written in the constitution.

  3. Most doctors start out as anti-gun until they realize their life is more valuable to them than yours is, until then they believe every life has the same value. Too much liberal college education. Eventually primal instincts take over and self preservation becomes reality instead of their liberal indoctrination. I believe all life matter right up to the time some fool threatens mine, at which point that fool becomes expendable.

    • “They buy guns because they can.”

      Yep, and they buy high-performance airplanes because they can afford those sexy beasts, and then proceed to crash them at rates several times that of the general aviation community, killing themselves and their passengers.

      That has earned those kinds of airplanes the title of “Doctor Killers”.

      Kinda like the fools on high performance sport bikes being called “Organ Donors”.

      It happens to lawyers as well, last week a famous personal injury lawyer killed himself and his lawyer niece in his $1.25 million-dollar cruise missile, a TBM 700 :

      Sexy, fast, and lethal to those who don’t pay proper attention while flying them…

  4. I would like to just state for the record that the American Nurses Association is our enemy. I will post an email I received from them before my immediate departure on 1/17/2019.

    “Nurses are on the front lines of gun violence, providing direct care at the bedside to victims and support for their families. This is why we’ve long pushed for action to enhance our country’s background check system and keep firearms out of the hands of potentially dangerous individuals.

    And it’s why we’re supporting the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 (H.R. 8), a commonsense bill just introduced in the House of Representatives that will help ensure unlicensed dealers and manufacturers don’t sell guns to those prohibited from owning firearms in the first place.

    This is potentially lifesaving legislation. Will you add your voice and urge your representative to cosponsor HR 8 today?

    More than a fifth of gun owners purchased their most recent firearm without a background check. This legislation would eliminate the loophole that allows unlicensed dealers to sell guns without this step in the process, and save lives.

    This bill – supported by Republican and Democrats alike – is a huge step in the right direction when it comes to the impact gun violence has had on public health. Nurses have long pushed for action to enhance the federal background check system, and polling consistently shows that more than 90 percent of Americans from both political parties support universal background checks.

    It’s time: tell your representative today to cosponsor HR 8 and help reduce the incidents of gun violence nationwide.

    Thanks in advance for helping to protect Americans and ensure nurses are called on less frequently to provide care for those impacted by gun violence.


    Matt Fitting
    Advocacy and Engagement Specialist
    American Nurses Association”

      • I wrote them what I can only describe as a scathing rebuke, never received a response, sent them another letter that basically told them to fuck off and die and severed any and all association with them. What morons.

        • A similar instance is occurring here in Montana. Amanda Curtis, head of the Montana Teacher’s Union, has made public announcements and has spammed Montana teachers with her desire to “take Gianforte down” (Greg Gianforte (R) is running for MT governor). Ms. Curtis and her husband have stated that they long for the day when there is a worldwide confederacy or union. We have an avowed Globalist / Communist actively using her position to spread propaganda among those she (allegedly) represents. The fact that she is using MT teacher’s dues to fund her efforts should piss off any Conservative minded teachers (we do have a few…a teaching neighbor across the way is very Conservative).

        • Am I the only one troubled by the fact that an individual in the nursing profession selected a handle like ‘ChoseDeath’?

          You don’t happen to work at a VA facility do you?

  5. “Stephen Gutowski reports that 69% of those purchasing firearms were healthcare professionals…”

    The article and study say 67% but even so, that’s a bizarre result. Then you look at how many of the participants self-reported being healthcare professionals and it’s 20%. 20% of the people who took this study are either in healthcare or lied about it?That’s way above the average in any state.

    That tells me that there’s something wrong with the study. Either it’s overtargeting people who are in that field or people are lying about it.

  6. I stopped at “We in health care may have found it easy then to anticipate a virtual zombie apocalypse, as this plague was threatening to infect and kill a large portion of the population in short order.”

    If you believed that was even a remote possibility past April 1 you’re a fucking moron that shouldn’t be trusted to fetch coffee (not make, fetch).

    Seriously, this is like the obese-as-all-get-out nurses (a shockingly high percentage btw). Unfuckingtrustworthy.

    • I don’t know what ICUs and ERs you hang out in, but it looked pretty bad in many of them well into July. As i said in another comment, it creates a bias when all you see are endless waves of very sick people.

      As for medical people and guns, someone once told me that concealed means concealed.

      • When someone mistakes anecdote for actual data and then blathers “bUT wE hAvE To fOlLoW dA sCieNce!” I know they’re an idiot or a liar.

        They’re no fucking “expert” and the fact that a huge percentage of people treat them as such is half the problem.

        Don’t like it? Too bad, so sad. Your preferences for people with massive amounts of bias don’t make you right useful. They make you dangerous.

    • Obese nurses? Odd – I’ve not met any. Nursing, in general, is a pretty active profession. I’ve met relatively few overweight nurses, and zero obese nurses. Those overweight nurses that I have met are mostly 30 pounds or less overweight. You simply can’t carry a lot of excess weight around, and do your job.

      I’ll admit that I haven’t met millions of nurses, in all possible nursing positions. Maybe home health care nurses tend to obesity? Maybe private home nurses? Possibly retirement home nurses? Industrial plant nurses? I’d like to know where these shocking numbers of obese nurses work, so I can watch out for them.

      Then again, maybe you have simply misused the term “obese”.

      • From a clinical diagnosis point of view in terms of “obesity” national level studies put the rate at between 30% and 55% for nurses (all types) according to the Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners in 2008.

        It’s news now because there are people out there making claims about CoV-2 specifically in relation to the fact that 30% of ICU CoV-2 cases are “medical professionals” and using that to argue for a “harder lockdown” nationwide. What they don’t tell you is that it’s almost all nurses and that out of that 30% there’s a 0.92 correlation with, you guessed it, obesity. 92% of the “medical professionals” in the ICU with CoV-2 are clinically obese. And, mostly they make up 30% of ICU patients in ICU’s that are NOT running at surge capacity of any kind.

        But yeah, it varies, mainly it’s correlated with the state they work in and the obesity rate in that state. That’s hardly a shocker.

        Again, anecdote vs. data. We love anecdotes but it’s extremely dangerous to craft state or national policy around them. More and more that’s exactly what we’re doing on both sides of any given arguement. We search out the heart-string tugger(s) on our side and put them out there as unassailable “experts” on the topic.

        And the reason in this case is obvious. You can use those people effectively in propaganda. ICU nurses see the worst of the worst of the worst of the worst of the worst (at least). They’re also seemingly credible and they have a “hero” status. In that regard it’s like talking to the parents of a school shooting victim about laws on MSRs or a gun owner who stopped a mass shooting. One cannot question the assertions that are made without being a bad person.

    • Just another anecdote, but one I’ll hope you guys will enjoy: On our first shore tour, many experienced culture shock going from shipboard workloads to mere eight-hour workdays. Some took advantage of this to enroll in distance or night schools, including my best friend earning his EMT certification.

      His Lifesaving class was split between EMT and nursing students. One of the latter was morbidly obese, and always brought a family-size bag of fast food to class.

      CPR certification of course required a hands-on demonstration – which this fat nurse was physically unable to perform. The instructor, like all too many these days, was ready to pass her anyway until my friend reminded him that he couldn’t, in good conscience, falsify a lifesaving qualification. The nurse overheard and broke down in tears: “But I have a glandular problem!” My buddy responded “Bullshit – you’ve got a Burger King problem!”

      • You know, I think I would rather be clinically obese then to have an empathy deficit.

        But it could be worse, I could be like Typhoid Trump and have both conditions.

        • Empathy, the ability to understand another’s position – when combined with a factual understanding of the choices that led to that position – helps one avoid that situation by avoiding those irrational choices.

          Or one could consider it in the thoughtless, emotional sense of “a positive reaction or opinion of another in reverse proportion to the other’s positive choices, qualities, or achievements”. I suppose the latter has some long-lost evolutionary value for Democrats and other unthinking animals. Fortunately, as a reasoning human, I have no need to base my decisions on mindless chemical impulses.

        • Telling someone the truth is not “having an empathy deficit”.

          Anyone who’s seen what long term obesity actually DOES to people would class telling super fat people to lose the weight as akin to suggesting that a smoker quit smoking.

          In fact, it’s better to tell the fatty something because long-term obesity puts them at a far higher risk for numerous lethal health problems than does smoking, hilariously enough.

          In actuality, it’s NOT telling the fat person the truth that is a sign of a lack of empathy because you’re so convinced that they cannot handle the truth about the consequences of their behavior that you actively hide the truth from them and thereby ensure they have a less productive, less happy, less healthy and shorter life. Not only do you lack empathy you also exhibit both a lack of respect and a lack of expectation that such a person can, in fact, succeed if they are given the tools to do so.

          So, Miner, you are that thing you fear. You’re a disrespectful person with a low opinion of the capacity of others to better themselves and you lack empathy for your fellow man.

          Your comment is insightful in regards to your nature in that it confirms the suspicions many here likely have about you. It also makes one wonder how you feel about black people.

        • When one find humor in another’s misfortune, be it physical or psychological, that is the antithesis of empathy.

        • Whiner,
          Empathy, and the ability to apply causative reasoning, are not mutually exclusive.

          Empathy for another’s misfortune (negative consequences of factors beyond his control) or sacrifice (negative consequences for positive choices, noble or courageous actions) is different from your mindless feelz. Besides regard for the other person, it is also closely connected with an appreciation of the injustice involved.

          Negative outcomes – as the natural, logical, and entirely foreseeable consequences of negative / irrational choices – haven’t a damned thing to do with “fortune”. It’s called “justice”, and is good not only because it is rational and ethically equitable, but also because it serves as the main corrective for impulses toward negative / irrational choices – at least until “nice” idiots like you, with your warped, feelings-based pseudoethics and your hatred of reason and justice, get involved.

        • Nothing he said suggested there was humor involved. Merely a blunt statement of of opinion about the source of another person’s inability to pass a test. A statement that, for all you know, was based on observed behavior.

          You’re inferring that it was amusing to someone but you have no actual evidence of that. Instead you’re making that claim and using it as a general defense for failure to warn others about a known and serious danger to their health on the grounds that feelings might be hurt or that someone might take some sort of pleasure from distributing the warning in a direct manner.

          You’re just offering yet more indications that you’re the type to know someone’s doing something self-destructive via ignorance and you’ll happily withhold the information from them so as to allow that person(s) to blissfully continue with extremely dangerous behavior.

          Is that because you’re a coward who can’t stand any sort of conflict where you might cause a negative emotional reaction? Or is it because you’re a terrible person who actually secretly delights in watching people self-destruct while you virtue-signal that you didn’t hurt their feelings?

          I dunno, but the evidence here is mounting that you have some serious work to do on self-improvement because you’re a demonstrably bad person. Which, honestly, based on the way you conduct yourself around here isn’t really that much of a surprise to most of us.

        • Sorry, but I’m calling BS on your responses.

          People who over eat and become morbidly obese or not doing so because of ignorance as you claim, but because they have a decent seated eating disorder, often a psychological trauma event has caused this response.

          But let’s go to my assertion that you and many others on this list find entertainment in the misfortune of your fellow citizens.

          That’s not speculation on my part, I’m merely commenting on the statement made in the post that you are supporting.

          “Just another anecdote, but one I’ll hope you guys will enjoy:”

          To gain ‘enjoyment’ from the misfortune of others is the very antithesis of empathy.

        • I explained the difference between “misfortune” and “choice” (which was already self-evident) in terms even a Proglodyte like you should have been able to grasp, but I guess I have to try again: My friend’s involvement derived neither from the other student’s weight nor even her eating habits, but from her attempt to solicit a false official statement about a literal life-and-death certification. The humor / enjoyment in his statement, which was certainly intentional, derived directly from the fact that he had caught her in yet another blatant falsification of material, observable facts. Which of those transparent lies did your amoebic little “intellect” process as a “misfortune”? Perhaps her stars, chakras, or whatever nonsense you believe in, should have twisted the facts to suit her attempted manipulations – so it’s still not her fault, right?

  7. Went to my doctor as part of my biannual checkup and came upon something I hadn’t seen before. When I entered the complex I noticed something missing at the entrance. Any Guesses? That’s Right the No Firearms on these Premises sign. When I asked my regular nurse what was up she just smiled said she couldn’t talk about it, but I could speak with the my doctor next week when I see him about test results. I have always carried into the office even when the sign was in place without comment from anyone by keeping it concealed or in a bag. I’ll update the conversation sometime after next Monday. This is going to be interesting. Keep Your Powder Dry…

  8. Yes, as I pointed out the first time this study was posted on TTAG, it is pretty thin stuff. A very small sub-set of a very small population is being used to deliver a big percentage number. The methodology is so flawed it is embarrassing to those what did it.

    On the other hand, like I keep saying, what is new here is that public awareness of medical people going armed is suddenly a thing. There have always been medical folks going armed, very quietly, covertly from the street level of EMT’s, firefighters, ER docs.

    The numbers may be up and the legal mechanisms are now there. But the other thing still in the way is that workplace rules forbid guns to these people.

    So, legal options options or not, carrying on the job remains a covert activity, not just a concealed one.

      • I carried on my last job for nearly 15 years until I quit to retire. The day I quit without notice I walked into the security office and called my boss to meet me where I told him I was done. I then knelt down and showed him and the entire security team the firearm I had carried in an ankle rig everyday. Their look of surprise was priceless. Having had a position that allowed me to bypass security on a regular basis and on occasion sub in for security made it all the more fulfilling since even security wasn’t allowed to be armed. Needless to say the entire security organization was reshuffled and retrained. I left with a smile and they learned that even the best laid security plan can be subverted by anyone with enough determination. Keep Your Powder Dry.

        • Why did you do that?
          Now your coworkers who also have carried, are likely to be discovered by these newly aware security members.

        • So in order to gratify your ego about how you ‘fooled’ everyone you have now made it more difficult for other POTG to carry on the job.

          Your employer trusted you, the other members of the security teams that you sometimes worked with trusted you, and yet you fooled them all, I guess their trust was misplaced.

        • If he wasn’t allowed to carry an effective means of self-defense while providing “security” for others, then no, he was not trusted, nor was his life or anyone else’s properly valued.

        • Well, in my liberal Democrat world, the property owner and/or employer gets to set the rules for their property and or place of business in most cases.

          If you don’t like the rules of the property owner, you can seek merchandise, goods, services or employment elsewhere.

          That’s what we call ‘private property rights‘.

          It’s a concept that some of you conservatives should examine.

        • ‘Private property rights’? What limits do you set on those rights. Can the owner bar employees/customers based on race? Religion? How about OSHA? Can a landlord refuse to rent to a single mother?

          How about it, miner? What are your limits on such rights?

  9. Frontline healthcare workers are buying guns because right wing anti-government nut jobs have threatened them because they encourage compliance with health and safety guidelines from the White House COVID-19 task force.

    “The environment deteriorates further when elected leaders attack their own public health officials. Members of the current presidential administration, and various members of Congress, have displayed hostility toward experts inside and outside of government. In July, staff at the White House disseminated a misleading memo and op-ed about Dr Anthony Fauci, the leading infectious disease physician and pandemic expert at the National Institutes of Health. For his part, President Trump retweeted statements including, “Everyone is lying. The CDC, Media, Democrats, our Doctors, not all but most, that we are told to trust.”4

    At the state and local levels, the attacks have been even more personal. In April, an Ohio representative referred to the state health officer, who is Jewish, as an “unelected Globalist Health Director,” using an anti-Semitic slur. Some elected judges have even contributed: in the Wisconsin Legislature v Palm decision striking the state health secretary’s stay-at-home orders, conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court judges censured the health secretary with unusual harshness, alleging “tyranny” by “an unelected official” exercising “controlling, subjective judgment.”

    But everyone can relax, there’s no one really at all hardly dying from COVID-19, just ask Donald Trump Junior:

    “In a Fox News interview Thursday, a day in which Johns Hopkins reported nearly 1,000 people died of COVID-19 and 90,000 people were newly infected, Donald Trump Jr. wrongly stated that the rate of COVID-19 deaths have declined to “almost nothing.”
    Trump Jr. said during an episode of “The Ingraham Angle” that he “went through the CDC data” and incorrectly claimed the number of COVID-19 deaths has significantly declined.
    “Oh, because the number is almost nothing,” he told host Laura Ingraham. “Because we’ve gotten control of this thing, we understand how it works. They have the therapeutics to be able to deal with this.”

    And to think, all this from a little ‘ol democratic hoax no worse than the common flu, amazing!

    And 90,000 newly infected just yesterday…


      • How very American of you, to encourage others to express their diverse viewpoint.

        My, how things have changed.

        When I was young, we felt the essence of responsible freedom was that:

        ‘I may not agree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it’.

        Somehow, many conservatives think ‘patriotism‘ means intimidation and threats in an attempt to bully other people into silence.

        And while you may be disappointed, I must tell you my last colonoscopy showed not one single polyp much less a lesion.

        Now, I must admit, I am somewhat amused by your focus on my anus health, do you think about other peoples sphincters often? You might want to seek help with that particular condition

        • And now, 98,000 Americans infected, that’s real progress!

          Trump is really racking up strong numbers!

          “Winning!” Covid-19

  10. If a gun can be taken and u get smacked with it….is it helping or hurting?

    When ur sound asleep and bad peeps fly in through the _______ do u have the intestinal fortitude to make the correct decision and use a gun with skill & calm….

  11. I worked my entire career in healthcare management. Healthcare people carry because we deal with the crazy and distraught every day. Most medical offices and hospitals are woefully open to intruders, we have the problem of drug seekers, and then there is the parking deck and shift change. Many of us carried. Nurses, doctors, managers, even billing staff. Everything from pocket .380’s to one young lady who kept a .45/.410 revolver in her purse. We just didn’t talk about it much unless we knew the other person really well because in theory any of us could have been fired for carrying on the job. Concealed means concealed.

  12. The study also noted a shift in gun ownership demographics during the pandemic: Those who bought guns during the pandemic tend to be younger, more urban, more female and less white.

    “One of the things we should see, in my limited view, is these are people who are civilians, who are not criminals, and they have seen a lot of unrest in the past six months,” explained co-author Jagdish Khubchandani, talking to the Washington Free Beacon. “They want to be on the front foot with their own safety.”

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