For the last twenty years, if not longer, the gun industry has steadfastly refused to consider the possibility that guns represent a public health problem. The fact that intentional gun deaths and injuries amount to more than 100,000 per year is of no concern because as we all know, it’s not the gun which creates the injury, it’s how some people use guns.

leadYou could also say the same thing about tobacco. It’s not the cigarette which causes cancer, it’s the person who decides to smoke. In other words, anyone who takes the ‘it’s the gun, not the person’ nonsense seriously probably believes that what Trump said last night about Afghanistan makes any sense.

Now that the argument over guns as a health risk is at least temporarily settled in favor of the guns, our friends in Fairfax have raised a new public health concern, namely, the crazy idea that lead is a toxic substance and therefore should also be regulated the same way that those stupid physicians want to regulate guns. What they are saying is that a new plan to regulate workplace lead drafted by the State of Washington will “impose complicated and expensive burdens on shooting ranges and retailers, potentially making it difficult for many to continue operations.” And if the local shooting range shuts down, how will gun owners gain enough practice time to practice in order to maintain their “constitutionally protected Second Amendment right to self-defense?”

I have an even bigger concern. Now that their President wants to jack up troop levels in Afghanistan (recall he was the candidate who complained that we shouldn’t have committed any troops over there at all) maybe some of those militia-types who were goose-stepping around Charlottesville will volunteer to go overseas. In which case they’ll need plenty of range time before they pack up their gear and leave. But what if the range has to shut down because it can’t afford to clean up the lead? So now the medical community is not only wrong about guns, but those dumb docs are messing with national security as well!

Bringing us back to reality, lead has been recognized as a toxic substance since the 1970s when it was realized that lead ingestion could have serious health effects on both children and adults – much more the former, hence the elimination of lead from things around kids, in particular paint and toys. But the fact that lead was identified nearly 40 years ago as a toxin doesn’t mean that the rules can’t change. Medicine is always updating its understanding of disease and risks to health – better testing, better lab work, better epidemiological analysis – it all adds up to better health.

But the NRA, one of our foremost medical research organizations, has decided that there’s no reason to change the rules covering lead contamination because no matter what science shows, we can’t do anything which might threaten those beloved 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ And in case you didn’t know, one of the most important 2nd-Amendment ‘rights’ is the ‘right’ to make a buck selling guns and ammunition to all those guys who may be getting shipped overseas as well as the defenders of American liberty who choose to remain at home.

I actually took the trouble to read the new lead regulations being proposed in Washington State, and they are based on OSHA contamination rules which have been in existence since 1978. What has changed is the requirement that an employer who has employees working in a retail store which sells guns and ammunition or in a public range allow the employees to be tested for lead levels, which is a simple blood test that costs a few bucks.

If the employee shows a blood level higher than the OSHA standards (which are much higher than what the CDC recommends for children, by the way), then obviously there has to be follow-up, but in most cases the lead level can be reduced if employees wash their hands.

Unfortunately, the Constitution doesn’t protect clean hands. But it does protect guns.