So, here I am at the Pri-Med East meeting in Boston, attended by more than 1,600 primary-care medical professionals who come to learn about all the latest research and practical issues that impact primary care.

              I am here as an exhibitor to distribute publications about gun violence that have been created by a stellar group of physicians, public health researchers, criminologists, media and legal experts who are listed here. The group, No Guns Healthy Lives, Inc., was founded (by yours truly) to bring more informed information about guns to the medical community. It is a 501c3 but we don’t solicit donations because then I would have to put together a much more complicated tax return. We are entirely self-funded, largely by my wife.

The Pri-Med conference is attended by primary-care medical professionals who need to know the latest information and practical approaches to treating patients under their care. The role of the physician, as defined by the Hippocratic Oath, is to figure out and prevent health problems, in other words, to be what our friend Jeff Nugent calls ‘first preventers’ before the gun injury occurs. Other medical specialists – emergency physicians, trauma surgeons – deal with gun violence as first responders, treating non-fatal gun injuries which occur probably more than 85,000 times every year.

              Hence, my appearance at Pri-Med this year because primary physicians are truly the front line when it comes to the medical response to guns. Unfortunately, when talking to patients about guns, most primary-care physicians take the same approach that has been adopted throughout the medical profession, an approach to reducing gun risk which sounds logical and informed but happens to be wrong.

              Back in 1993-94, two stellar researchers, Art Kellerman, and Fred Rivara, published research in the New England Journal of Medicine which found that the presence of a gun in the home created a suicide and homicide risk. It was this research which got pro-gun members of Congress to eliminate CDC funding of gun research.

              Frankly, I can’t blame the NRA and other gun organizations for wanting to squelch such research. How would you feel if your livelihood were dependent on selling a product that was considered a health risk? At least with a bicycle, all you have to do to reduce risk is wear a helmet. Has anyone designed a helmet that will stop a 9mm bullet from going through someone’s head?

              To avoid being chastised as anti-gun, medical organizations and groups now promote the idea that it’s okay to have a gun around the house, as long as it is safely stored. These organizations and groups use all kinds of euphemisms to describe their stance. They call themselves ‘consensus-builders,’ or trying to connect to ‘responsible’ gun owners, or just wanting every gun owner to be ‘safe.’

              This is nonsense. It’s just as nonsensical as the malarky being promoted by Gun-nut Nation about how a gun is an effective ‘tool’ for self-defense. Please read the next sentence very slowly, okay? The research published by Kellerman and Rivara did not (read: not) differentiate risk from guns based on whether the guns were safely stored or not. The evidence-based research simply found that a gun in the home creates medical risk.

              One of the leading public health researchers, Ali Rowhani-Rahbar, reviewed the medical and public health research on the efficacy of safe-storage programs. What he found was that half the programs led to an increase in household storage techniques, the other half didn’t change household gun-storage behavior at all.

              But note that Rowhani-Rahbar’s research did not (read: not) compare gun violence events before and after gun owners were given instruction in safe storage. The research simply looked at whether gun owners reported more safe-storage behavior after they enrolled in a safe-storage class. Sorry, but the idea that locking your guns away means, ipso facto, that less gun violence will occur is an assumption, not a proven or evidence-based fact.

              I first started writing about guns and gun violence in 2012 when the NRA attacked our friend Judith Palfrey when she was President of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and had the audacity, the temerity, to suggest that guns and children in the same home don’t mix. The NRA used Judy’s statement to launch an aggressive campaign against physicians who didn’t support the ownership of guns.

              How did the medical community respond to this assault, including an crazy attempt to criminalize doctors who counseled patients about guns? For the most part, they ignored the evidence-based research of Kellerman, Rivara and Rowhani-Rahbar and began pushing a ‘consensus’ approach based on the totally-unproven assumption that safe storage reduces gun violence. This is simply not true.

              I have taught the required gun-safety course to more than 7,000 residents of my state – Massachusetts – and I now conduct lethal-force certifications with officers from local, state, and federal law-enforcement agencies. I begin every class by putting a gun out on the table and telling the attendees that the moment they touch that gun, they are putting themselves in a risk situation for which there is no (read: no) mitigating behavior at all.

              Now the fact is that we all accept various risks in our daily lives. When was the last time you didn’t run a yellow light because you were late to work, and the coast was clear?

              And by the way, a majority of those 300 million or 400 million guns that are floating around the United States do not represent the kind of risk which creates 100,000+ instances of gun violence every year. Nearly all the intentional shootings are the product of someone using a gun that was specifically designed to inflict injuries on human beings – bottom-loading, semi-automatic pistols and bottom-loading, semi-automatic rifles.

              Want to reduce gun violence in a meaningful way? Stop promoting silly, non-factual notions about ‘safe storage’ or ‘responsible gun ownership’ and regulate assault rifles and semi-automatic pistols the way we have been regulating machine guns since 1934.

              How many full-auto guns are legally owned in the United States today? Try at least 60,000, maybe more. When was the last time that someone intentionally shot someone else with a machine gun? 1947.  Get it?