Yesterday I attended an online seminar co-sponsored by The National Academy of Medicine and Northwell Health, “Facilitating the Integration of Firearm Injury Prevention into Healthcare Through Community Collaboration.” One of the panelists was Jake Wiskerchen, who was identified as the Founder and CEO of Zephyr Wellness, a mental health practice in Nevada which claims to be “bridging the gap between the mental health profession and the firearms community.”

One of Zephyr’s collaborating organizations is a group called Walk the Talk America, which has joined in an ‘official partnership’ with Zephyr to “advance the dialog about gun ownership and mental health care to demystify and destigmatize both fields for the advancement of the safety and health of all Americans.”

Here are some of the Board Members of Walk the Talk America:

  • John Renzulli, whose law firm defends gun manufacturers when their products are used inappropriately to injure or kill someone.
  • Dustin Jones, whose company, Armscor, imports handguns from the Philippines, which are advertised as being designed primarily for armed, self-defense.
  • Colion Noir, a former media personality who worked for NRA-TV and now has his own media presence where he advocates using assault rifle for protection individuals and their homes.
  • Rob Pincus, a gun trainer who uses personal appearances and video products to promote the idea that communities would be safer if everyone were walking around with a gun.

I would appreciate it if someone from the National Academy could explain to me how any medical group or organization could give free time, space, and audience to someone who earns his living by advocating using guns for anything other than hunting or sport.

The guns which individuals like Rob Pincus and Colion Noir use in their advocacy of armed, self-defense are guns that are only designed to do one thing – shorten a human being’s life. And since the whole reason for working in medicine is to lengthen and prolong human life, what is any medical organization doing showcasing an individual who promotes an organization which is working at cross-purposes to what doctors should do?

The idea that someone like Jake Wiskerchen could attempt to foist his support of armed, self-defense on a medical audience as a ‘responsible’ and ‘proper’ behavior only demonstrates how far from reality the discussion about gun violence among physicians appears to have gone.

This may come as a shock to my friends in medicine, but the WHO’s definition of violence does not (read: not) distinguish between violence as a good thing or a bad thing. The WHO doesn’t appear to share the idea promoted by Wiskerchen and his Walk the Talk buddies that violence is something we should learn how to administer in a properly by first going out and buying a Glock, or a Beretta, or a Sig, or an AR-15.

Let me make it clear that I am not some tree-hugging liberal who hates guns.  At the moment I happen to personally own 60 guns or a few more. I have trained over 700 residents of my state (Massachusetts) in the so-called safety course required before someone can legally own a gun, and I conduct lethal-force certifications for local, state, and federal law-enforcement groups.

That being said, I would never get up in front of a medical group, or any group for that matter, and promote the idea that a gun should be carried around for self-defense. There is not one, single study which finds the slightest connection whatsoever between community members walking around with a concealed weapon and a reduction in violent injuries in that community or anywhere else.

If the Academy wans to inform an audience with a valid and meaningful message about gun violence, they could post this video on their website: Sandy Hook Families Reach Settlement With Gunmaker Remington – The New York Times (

I have no problem with physicians or medical groups reaching out to gun owners in order to find common ground on which to discuss violence caused by the use of guns. But the idea that any medical organization, particularly the National Academy of Medicine, would reach out to a conscious and active promoter of armed, self-defense like Jake Wiskerchen, sends a message out to the public which is an egregious mistake.

The Academy can and should do better than that.