NBC News reported recently that a “social media war” had erupted between medical professionals and the National Rifle Association in the aftermath of the Thousand Oaks mass shooting, just as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “released new figures showing gun deaths on the rise across the country.”
According to NBC, medical professionals “have increasingly taken on gun violence as a public health issue.”
The NRA last week tweeted that physicians should stick to their own business. After all, NRA certified firearms instructors—the genuine experts on gun safety—don’t run around practicing medicine.
Someone should tell self-important anti-gun doctors to stay in their lane. Half of the articles in Annals of Internal Medicine are pushing for gun control. Most upsetting, however, the medical community seems to have consulted NO ONE but themselves. https://t.co/oCR3uiLtS7
— NRA (@NRA) November 7, 2018
“Doctors and medical officials have increasingly taken on gun violence as a public health issue,” the network reported. “Last month, the American College of Physicians issued new guidelines for doctors to follow in helping protect patients from firearms dangers, and published several reports on gun violence in its flagship publication, the Annals of Internal Medicine.”
The story quoted Dr. Garen Wintemute, whose name shows up frequently related to research about guns. He is director of the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California Davis Medical Center.
“We need to ask our patients about firearms, counsel them on safe firearm behaviors, and take further action when an imminent hazard is present,” Wintemute said.
Last December, Wintemute bylined an opinion piece in the Annals of American Medicine headlined “What You Can Do to Stop Firearm Violence.” In that piece, he acknowledged that, “horrific mass shootings have accounted for no more than 1% to 2% of deaths from firearm violence in recent years.
Then he noted, “Yet nationwide in 2016, there was an average of 97 deaths from firearm violence per day: 35,476 altogether.” Rights activists maintain that this number is a combination of homicides, suicides and accidents, and that it is misleading because suicide is an act of desperation while murder is a brutal crime.
Into this fray comes a group called Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership, a “project” of the Second Amendment Foundation. DRGO describes itself as an “advocacy and watchdog group confronting anti-gun bias in medicine.” They have been campaigning against what they call “boundary violations” by physicians trying to preach gun control in the examination room.
They’ve got an interesting website at which one can find advice on what to do when your doctor asks about guns in the home. DRGO contends that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has “pushed its member doctors to advise families to get rid of their guns” and that one of the authors of the original AAP was quoted in a medical journal back in 1994 claiming that “guns are a virus that must be eradicated.”
“Gun control is, at its heart, people control. While the public health assault on our fundamental human right of gun ownership is not a military assault by jackbooted thugs, it is an assault nevertheless. America has been unique in preserving, and through recent high court decisions affirming, the natural right of self-defense through firearm ownership.”—Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership
DRGO presentations are now an annual feature of the Gun Rights Policy Conference, co-sponsored by SAF and the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. Next year’s gathering will be held in Phoenix. DRGO says the public needs to know the following:
- Doctors receive absolutely no training about firearm safety, mechanics, or tactics in medical school or residency. They are completely unqualified by their training to advise anyone about guns.
- Gun ownership is a civil right. A doctor’s abuse of his position of trust to pressure you to give up that civil right is professionally and morally wrong. In some states it is illegal. You DO NOT have to tolerate it.
- You as a consumer have great power in the doctor-patient relationship. Do not be afraid to use it.
This comes from a physicians’ group, not a gun rights organization. DRGO has also put together an interesting history of gun control.
This seems to be headed to a confrontation not just between the NRA and physicians, but between two groups of medical professionals, plus the much broader firearms community in general.
There are some 150,000 internal medicine specialists represented by the American College of Physicians, NBC noted. Meanwhile, the NRA represents some 6 million gun owners, SAF has an estimated 650,000 members and supporters.