There’s a bunch of ER doctors out there who are promoting themselves as a group of gun experts who want to teach other doctors how to counsel patients about gun risks. The group says it has developed a ‘non-partisan’ approach to gun violence, shorthand for a narrative that will appeal to both sides.
The head of this group, Chris Barsotti, claims to be a gun owner. In fact, the one gun he owns is an old hunting rifle that belonged to his father; a gun he has never shot. How do I know this? Because I gave him the ammunition for the gun.
The other group leader, Megan Ranney, explained to me that the reason she never speaks out against the hundreds of thousands of dollars that the American College of Emergency Physicians donates every year to the political campaigns of pro-NRA Members of Congress is because “change takes time.”
These self-righteous and arrogant promoters of themselves and a few other ER docs are going to hold a virtual seminar next month to explain how doctors and other caregivers should talk to gun owners about their guns. They claim to be developing a ‘preferred terminology’ so that clinicians can prevent firearm injuries and deaths.
Let’s go back to the beginning, which is 1992 and 1993. This is when two medical researchers, Fred Rivara and Art Kellerman, published evidence-based research which clearly and indisputably found that access to guns increases risks to health.
I read these articles when they first appeared in print and frankly, didn’t understand why this research needed to be done at all. Was there anyone out there who didn’t understand that if you pick up a loaded gun, particularly a handgun, and point it at yourself or someone else, that such an action wouldn’t increase risk? Isn’t that exactly what my Glock M-17 pistol is designed to do? Duhhh….
How do you take a product like my Glock and reduce the risk inherent in its design and function without getting rid of the gun? You come up with some stupid or silly workaround like ‘safe’ guns or safe storage of guns or some other nonsense like that. And then you peddle that crap to a largely unsuspecting and ignorant audience and pretend that you have come up with a ‘consensus’ approach to reducing gun risk.
There’s only one little problem, a problem which happens to make this approach not only wrong from a product design point of view, but also happens to be a violation of the Hippocratic Oath.
The Hippocratic Oath requires all physicians, even these ER docs, to use evidence-based research that will define medical risks, and then use the research to come up with a plan to reduce the risk.
If you take the trouble to read the articles by Kellerman and Rivara cited above, you’ll notice that in neither category of gun risk – suicide, homicide – did the researchers find that gun risk was mitigated by adopting some kind of expedient like safe storage which would reduce the risk but still let a gun owner have access to his guns.
Not only do these ER docs intend to hold a seminar to explain a ‘consensus’ approach to gun risk which has no basis in evidence-based research, but the seminar also features an appearance by a guy named Rob Pincus, described as an “educator with 20 years of experience in the gun industry.”
Pincus’ educational activity consists of peddling a bunch of books and CD-ROMS on his website which promise to show the average gun owner how to protect himself, his family and his home with a gun. Want to reduce gun risk? Go out tomorrow, buy yourself a Glock or a Sig, then sit on your rear end and watch a video and you’re good to go.
The physicians who are promoting this nonsense should be ashamed of themselves. I can’t say it any other way.
If any of them would like to reply to this column and explain why they believe they are doing what needs to be done to reduce gun violence, I’ll give them all the space they want.
Don’t hold your breath, folks.