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Do Doctors Know Anything About Guns?

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              In 1964, the Surgeon General issued a report which linked cigarettes to specific health risks, most of all lung and bronchial cancers, but other diseases as well. This was followed by Federal laws which banned cigarette advertising on broadcast media and required a health warning on all cigarette packs.

              These efforts sparked smoking cessation programs at the community level, as well as anti-smoking education in public schools. Those programs and others are coordinated by the CDC and have made a significant difference in the size of the smoking population as well as the number of deaths from illnesses caused by cigarette smoke.

              Last year the CDC announced that guns were also a health threat. It only took the CDC twenty-eight years to figure this one out after two studies published in The New England Journal of Medicine definitively found a link between gun access and both murder and suicide.

              And what has the medical community decided is the best way to deal with this threat which only kills and injures more than 125,000 Americans every year? Back in 2019, a ‘summit meeting’ took place attended by 44 major medical and injury prevention organizations and hosted by the American College of Surgeons (ACS), the objective being to “develop effective injury prevention strategies.”

               The summit group decided to adopt a ‘systems approach’ to the problem based on a public health model. This model “requires engagement, responsibility and partnership across disciplines, geographic regions, and philosophic differences. It requires professionalism, humility, and mutual respect. When applied to firearm injury prevention, this approach requires engaging firearm owners as a part of the solution rather than as part of the problem.”

          Now let’s circle back for a minute to how the CDC dealt with smoking as a public health issue. Basically, the research indicated that if cigarettes are being smoked in the home, the rates of serious diseases like cancer and cardiac problems reach unacceptable levels and will remain at those levels until the cigarettes are removed from the home.

          Does the CDC recommend that smokers be engaged in deciding the strategies that will allow them to keep smoking, even though everyone agrees that smoking represents a risk? Of course not. Smokers may be asked to help figure out the best ways to break the smoking habit, but sooner or later, the cigarettes have to be gone from the home.

          Why should a public health approach to reducing gun violence be any different? How come doctors are being told that figuring out how to get the guns out of the home should be a process which requires input from the population which will have to give up their guns in order to meet the evidence-based research which clearly demonstrates that guns in the home represent a risk to health?

          Doctors are being told this because this bunch who held their ‘summit meeting’ about gun violence in 2019 decided that they could ignore the research published in 1993 about the risk to health represented by guns as long as doctors would advise their gun-owning patients to own and use guns in a ‘safe’ way.

          The only thing which exceeds the arrogance of this approach is its ignorance. Know why it’s ignorant? Because most fatal and non-fatal gun injuries, perhaps three-quarters or more, are caused by individuals who own and use guns that are designed solely for the purpose of ending human life. Guns manufactured by companies like Glock, Sig, Smith & Wesson, Springfield, Kahr – want me to name a few more? – are guns carried and used by military and tactical units worldwide. The United States is the only country in the entire world which allows its residents to buy and own these kinds of guns.

          Nowhere in the entire discussion about gun violence found in the proceedings of that 2019 ‘summit’ is this issue even mentioned, never mind discussed. Nowhere did all those medical and public health experts demonstrate even the slightest awareness of how the American gun industry profits by selling military-style handguns to the so-called law-abiding crowd.

          Oh, I forgot. This same bunch of injury experts have no problem saying that we need to do a better job of regulating the sale and ownership of assault rifles, up to and maybe even reinstating a partial ban. Big fu*king deal. We’ll get rid of the guns which account for less than one percent of the gun violence events which occur every year, but the sale of guns responsible for the other ninety-nine percent of gun injuries shouldn’t be disturbed.

          The physicians and public health researchers who came together in this summit, produced this absolute nonsense and are now spreading it merrily (with the help of the CDC) throughout the entire medical profession should be ashamed of themselves.

          But this bunch are too arrogant and too stupid to admit that maybe, just maybe they have absolutely no idea what they are talking about.

          The truth is that if gun violence did slow down or disappear, the CDC would stop funding their useless research and then what would these folks do? Spend their time seeing patients? What’s the point of that?

          I’m going to send this column to everyone who attended that 2019 summit and invite them to respond. Any response I receive will get reprinted in full.

          Don’t hold your breath, okay?

Another Stupid Idea to Reduce Gun Violence Courtesy of The New York Times.

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              Last week The New York Times published yet another guest editorial on what to do about gun violence.  This time it’s an editorial by the Mayor of San Jose (thank you Gail) who I’m sure is a decent and civic-minded guy. He’s also a Democrat, so he can’t be all that bad.

              But like every other individual who has contributed their two cents or their three cents to the ongoing effort by The New York Times to explain what we should do to reduce the 125,000 fatal and non-fatal gun injuries which occur in the United States every year, Mayor Sam Liccardo (pictured above) doesn’t know anything about guns.

              Because if he did, he might still succumb to the temptation to promote himself and his administration for their recent initiatives to stop the slaughter in the streets of San Jose, but at least he would know that what he’s saying, to quote Grandpa, is ‘hai cock and a bubbe’ (read: bullsh*t and horsesh*t – take your pick.)

              In San Jose between 2013 and 2018, there were 206 city residents who were either treated for gun injuries or didn’t require any treatment because they were dead. Of this total number, 89 were murdered, 31 shot themselves, another 86 were either ‘unintentional’ or ‘undetermined,’ for a grand total of 206.

              Maybe the first thing the Mayor should do is get the people responsible for coming up with those numbers to spend some time figuring out what they are really trying to do. Because if the city uses those numbers to come up with some new initiatives that will reduce those numbers, the idea that 40 percent of all known shootings were either ‘accidents’ or nobody knows why they occurred simply cannot be a basis upon which to proceed.

              Which is maybe why the two gun-control programs being touted by Mayor Liccardo are so stupid and so far removed from anything having to do with preventing or reducing gun violence that they simply cannot and will not work.

              Although the fee has not yet be determined, at some point every gun owner in San Jose will be required to pay a fee to the city which will then be distributed by some non-profit group to pay for mental health and suicide prevention programs, as well as a gun-safety course.

              The other program will require every gun owner to carry liability insurance to cover the costs of unintentional shootings, even though the city doesn’t actually know how many unintentional shootings occur.

              The Mayor claims that liability insurance will provide gun owners with a financial incentive to behave safely with their guns – lock them up, lock them away, all the usual safe-gun bromides that are trotted out by Gun-control Nation in its unending quest to make guns as benign as possible for both sides.

              Do you think that Mayor Liccardo actually believes that when Dick Cheney accidentally filled another hunter’s head with buckshot back in 2006, that the Vice President would have been more careful with his gun if he was paying insurance premiums on a policy that would compensate the guy he shot? Is the Mayor of San Jose in this world or does he live somewhere else?

              As for the idea that gun violence will be reduced if every gun owner in San Jose shows up and pays the city for the privilege of owning guns, this initiative is even crazier than the insurance scheme, for the simple reason that the people in San Jose and every other place in America who commit intentional gun assaults aren’t about to admit to any governmental agency that they own a gun.

              How often do you think someone walks into a gun shop, buys a gun, passes a background check, and then walks across the street to stick up the mini-mart, or walks down the street and shoots someone who just dissed him, or maybe just happened to be in the way?

              Do law-abiding gun owners sometimes shoot someone else intentionally? Of course they do. Sh*t happens, particularly when the old lady really pisses you off.

 But they sure don’t do it very often and I am still waiting for the first so-called public health gun researcher to actually publish a study showing how many Americans are murdered each year with legally owned guns. If it’s 5 percent of the 19,384 who were victims of gun homicides in 2020, send me a MAGA baseball cap and I’ll eat it, okay?

              Want to reduce gun violence in San Jose? Pass a law which says that anyone found with a semi-automatic, bottom-loading pistol chambered for military-style ammunition must either move out of town or will get sent out of town to spend a couple of years in Wasco, San Quentin, or Pelican Bay – take your pick.

              And if the San Jose Mayor thinks that the Supreme Court will buy into the 2nd-Amendment bullsh*t about how the city can’t decide for itself that certain kinds of guns represent a threat to community safety, I suggest he should consult the assault rifle ban passed by Highland Park and upheld by the Supreme Court in 2015.

If Guns Were Safer, Gun Violence Would Go Down, Right?

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              Today is the tenth anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre and now the effort to reduce gun violence has morphed into its third phase. In the pre-Sandy Hook days, when we talked about how to deal with gun violence, we referred to the various strategies as ‘gun control.’

              Following Sandy, it was decided by the various advocacy organizations that the gun control movement would refer to themselves as the ‘gun violence prevention’ movement, or GVP.

              Now we have entered the third phase in an effort to win the hearts and minds of enough Americans to pass some more legal restrictions on how gun owners should behave with their guns and this is being called the ‘gun safety’ movement, which is analyzed in detail this week in a long article in The New York Times.

              The essay, written by a free-lance journalist, David Cullen, claims that the gun safety movement emerged after Sandy Hook and is led by two powerhouses – Everytown and Giffords – who “are run by data-driven professionals who employ polling, focus groups and election post-mortems to help candidates test and hone effective messages.”

              Cullen sees the growth in gun safety organizations in terms of more laws being passed in individual states, with 67 new state laws passed in 2019 alone. In 2022 another 45 gun-safety laws have been put on the books in various states, while the NRA has become the ‘walking wounded’ when it comes to what goes on in D.C.

              All of this sounds very nice, upbeat, and positive, except there’s only one little problem. What Cullen doesn’t mention is that not only is gun violence on the upswing, but the rate of shootings continues to climb even as the alleged reason for the recent upsurge – Covid-19 – is beginning to fade. Throughout 2020 we were told that gun violence was worse because: a) the Pandemic sparked all kinds of misery and fears, and b) so many people were buying guns.

              According to the CDC, weekly Covid-19 cases are now less than half of what they were back in July. As for gun sales, November 2020 background checks were 2 million, November 2021 were 1.5 million and November 2022 were 1.3 million. In other words, sales have dropped by 35% since the Pandemic was in full force. And Smith & Wesson stock, which was at $30 a share back in July 2021, is now trading at under $9 bucks.

              There is little, provable connection between how many Americans pick up a gun and use it to shoot someone else, and how many laws are passed which will mandate that Americans buy, own and use ‘safe’ guns. Know why? Because the guns which are used to kill and injure 100,000+ Americans every year can’t be used in a ‘safe’ way.

              Guns which are bottom-loading, semi-automatic pistols chambered for military-style ammunition aren’t designed to be ‘safe.’ They are designed to deliver lethal injuries to human beings, which is why they are carried by just about every military and tactical unit worldwide.

              Know why the United States suffers from the daily ravages of gun violence. Because the United States is the only country in the entire world which gives its residents free access to guns whose sole purpose is to end human life. And very few of these guns are actually used to kill or injure someone by a person who first acquired the gun and passed a background check.

              But when several million guns which fit into the palm of an adult hand get into the market every year, some will get lost, and some will get stolen, and some will be sold. And when that happens, these guns will remain usable for upwards of thirty years.

              Want to end gun violence? Stop the manufacture and sale of the guns which are used to commit that violence. And before you shake your head and tell me that we can’t prevent Americans from buying such lethal products because it’s a ‘violation’ of 2nd-Amendment ‘rights,’ I’ll save my response for another column, but let me say right here and now that banning the pistols made by companies like Glock and Sig wouldn’t be a violation of the 2nd Amendment at all. In fact, the Supreme Court has ruled on this issue more than once.

              Would it be such of what Grandpa would call a ‘gefailach’ (read: big deal) if David Cullen and all the other advocates for ‘safe’ guns would maybe just say in a whisper that the way to make a gun ‘safe’ is to get rid of the gun?

Is Political Violence a Threat?

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              So, now we have the entire editorial board of The New York Times pronouncing what we need to do about gun violence. And when you get done reading through this entire epistle, you’ll understand why we haven’t done anything to reduce gun violence over the past twenty years.

              To understand the context in which the esteemed editors of America’s most esteemed public media venue produced their remarks, the per-thousand rate of deaths from intentional gun assaults (i.e., homicide) in 2001 was 3.98. In 2020, the rate was 5.88. Or to put it in raw numbers, 11,348 people were shot to death by someone else in 2001, in 2020 that number was 19,384.

              According to this bunch of Ivy-educated lowbrows, America has a ‘toxic’ gun culture because “a growing number of American civilians have an unhealthy obsession with ‘tactical culture’ and rifles like the AR-15.”

              I know something about that unhealthy obsession because I happen to be the person who advised the law firm representing the litigants who sued Remington for making the AR-15 used to slaughter 26 adults and children at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. And what I told the Koskoff law firm about the AR-15 is what they used in an argument which basically said the rile was too dangerous to be in civilian hands.

              That was then, this is now. And now we are being told that “the American gun industry has reaped an estimated $1 billion in sales over the past decade from AR-15-style guns, and it has done so by using and cultivating their status as near mythical emblems of power, hyper-patriotism and manhood.”

              Let’s start right there. One billion dollars over ten years? That’s the big deal? It just so happens that until recently when sales began to flag and retailers began cutting prices, that the average cost of a fully assembled AR-15 was about a thousand bucks.

So, let’s divide a billion by a thousand and what do we get? We get one million AR-15’s sold to a potential market of some eighty to ninety million Americans who own guns. No wonder the price of a share of Smith & Wesson stock has dropped by nearly 50 percent over the past year.

What is worse than all those military-style guns floating around, is how they keep showing up at political events carried by super patriots on the alt-right. The editorial references an earlier ‘analysis’ by the newspaper which found that 77 percent of some 700 political demonstrations attracted people openly carrying guns.

In fact, the analysis was no analysis at all. The NYT simply cribbed some data put together by a research outfit, the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), which first started operating in Great Britain, but now is housed in multiple academic locations in the United States.

The ACLED group has done a detailed analysis of all armed political demonstrations in the United States from January 2020 through June 2021, a period which saw perhaps as many as 30,000 public demonstrations, of which somewhere around 560 events involved at least one person openly carrying a gun. That’s less than two percent.

Of the demonstrations which attracted armed demonstrators or onlookers, there were 9 fatalities reported to have occurred, of which two men were shot by Kyle Rittenhouse in Kenosha during the BLM violence in August 2021. How many of the other 7 people killed in these 560 demonstrations were shot with guns? I can’t find any data on the ACLED website which breaks down fatal violence committed with or without guns, but an article on political violence in The Guardian  (based on ACLED data) says that the ‘overwhelming majority’ of BLM demonstrations were peaceful and that many of the deaths at these events were actually deadly crimes carried out near where the demonstrations took place.

In other words, for all the efforts of the gun industry to market its products through appeals to manhood, patriotism, and the endless bleating about 2nd-Amendment ‘rights,’ this country continues to exhibit a remarkable level of peace and calm, notwithstanding all those gazillions of guns floating around.

Several weeks ago, the NYT ran another story about how the gun ‘culture’ has become an intimidating element in the public debate, with a tag-line which read “Armed Americans, often pushing a right-wing agenda, are increasingly using open-carry laws to intimidate opponents and shut down debate.”

If I had a nickel for every story the NYT and other liberal media ran about how the mid-term elections would be rife with violent threats and violent acts, I wouldn’t have to finish this commentary up right now in order to report for work.

Meanwhile, the Christian Science Monitor summed it up by saying, “There was no violence. At least for now, the serious threats that loomed over democracy heading into Election Day – domestic extremist violence, voter intimidation, and Republican refusal to respect election outcomes – did not materialize in any pervasive way.”

If the Editorial Board of America’s ‘paper of record’ (a term they have been using to describe themselves since 1924) wants to really do something about gun violence, instead of promoting this cockamamie nonsense about how the Boogaloo Boys are one step away from committing the next Civil War, why don’t these editors sit down and figure out what to do about the 50 kids and young men who get gunned down every day on inner-city streets?

Is that too much to ask these so-called editorialists to do? I guess it is.

Let’s Go to a Gun Show This Weekend.

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              When I started writing about guns, the national gun-homicide rate was 3.55, the lowest since the CDC started keeping this number beginning in 1981. The rate started increasing in 2015 and hit 5.88 in 2020, an increase from 2015 of more than 60%.

              Meanwhile, by 2015 gun violence was routinely described as a ‘public health issue,’ which has now become an official proposition thanks to last year’s announcement by the CDC. And what does the CDC intend to do about this newly discovered threat to public health? They will provide more funds to conduct research and “applying science to identify effective solutions.”

              There’s only one little problem, however, with this approach. I have read, without exaggeration, just about every, single piece of gun research which has been published by scholars at leading universities all over the United States – schools like Harvard, Hopkins, University of California, Duke, places like that.

              With all due respect, I have yet to encounter the research of one, single scholar committed to figuring out how to reduce gun violence who happens to know anything about guns.

              So, I have decided that enough is enough. I am going to publish at least one column every week in which I raise questions about what I consider to be the shortcomings in this research, and I have further decided not to publish me remarks in a particularly polite way.

              Because if anything pisses me off about the so-called research being conducted by all these researchers who claim to be looking at ways to reduce gin violence, it is the degree to which this entire research community is obsessively afraid to ever engage in any public criticism of their own work.

              That being said, I’m going to start off by reviewing a scholarly article published in 2017 which is an attempt to explain how and why gun owners respond to the alleged stigma attached to their ownership of guns, and by so doing, “facilitate the unfettered exchange of potentially dangerous goods, promote the invisibility of oppressive structures, and normalize violence.” You can download the article right here.

              The authors of this brilliant piece, two academics at the University of Nevada – Reno, have structured their so-called research around something they call ‘collaborative event ethnography,” which means they wander around some public event, then sit down and compare what they saw, and then come up with some kind of explanation for what it all means.

              In this case, the researchers visited seven gun shows in three states which they believe showed how gun owners hide the ‘stigma’ attached to guns and in the process, ‘normalize’ violence which obviously results in more violence committed with the use of guns.

              When the team sat down to compare results, they decided that this normalization occurred in three different ways: “(a) adopting a casual attitude to their actions and the events as everyday activities; (b) juxtaposing innocuous items next to potentially dangerous weapons; and (c) making these events “family friendly.”

              The ‘casual attitude’ they observed was the fact that so many people were walking around the shows carrying guns. The ‘innocuous items’ were t-shirts, jewelry, and various bric-a-brac crap that vendors were trying to sell. The shows were all ‘family friendly’ because there were lots of kids running around.

              What were people supposed to bring to a gun show? Fishing rods? What were the vendors supposed to do? Hide their non-gun inventory under their tables when the whole point of renting a display table for 60 or 70 bucks was to go home with some cash in your pocket? And were the fresh-faced brats running around with cotton candy smeared all over their faces getting groomed to shoot someone with a gun?

              If the academics who published this nonsense had even the slightest degree of understanding about guns and the people who own guns, they would have gone to each gun show several times. What they would have discovered was that gun shows are no different from shows that feature the sale of any kind of crap – model trains, old tools, picture postcard collections – which otherwise just sits in the garage or the attic waiting to be thrown out.

              If these researchers had visited the same gun show several times, they would have also discovered that the same people show up both as buyers and sellers at every, single show. And guess what happens at these shows? Mostly what happens is that everyone stands around and talks – and talks, and talks, and talks.

              That’s right. You’ll see a rusted, old bayonet for sale which allegedly was taken off a ‘Jap’ soldier at Iwo Jima, you’ll be able to buy a holster which has a Nazi swastika engraved on its side, and of course you can always purchase a Purple Heart medal, complete with a little display case.

              Know why you can buy these items at a gun show? Not because the vendors are all a bunch of racists, not because the people who paid eight bucks to attend the show are trying to find some way to disguise their attachment to the ‘stigma’ of owning guns.

              You can buy these items because guns have always been part-and-parcel of the militaria retail industry and if you walk into an Army-Navy store just about anywhere in the United States, you’ll find posters advertising guns or maybe you’ll find some real guns to buy as well.

              I have visited hundreds of gun shows in maybe 20 or more states. I have exhibited at gun shows in Pennsylvania and New York, as well as at the national gun shows run by the NRA and the NSSF.

              If I could have one concession at the NRA show it would be the booth which rents out those electric buggies which people use to get around at the show because they’re basically too fat or too old to walk.

              These folks, and everyone else at the gun show, are much more concerned about which snack bar they are going to eat at than whether or not they can hide the stigma attached to their guns.

Is Gun Violence a Public Health Threat?

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              Almost thirty years ago, two medical researchers, Art Kellerman, and Fred Rivara, published research which definitively found that access to guns created medical risk. Since that research appeared, more than one million Americans have died from gunshot wounds, and at least another two million or more Americans have suffered non-fatal gunshot wounds.

In many cases, the victims of gun injuries who survived their wounds ended up having their lives shortened anyway. In just about every one of these three million instances where guns were used to end or shorten lives, the financial and psychological costs of this threat to health have been extreme.

In the past several years, gun-violence numbers appear to be mounting up, in many jurisdictions the increase in gun injuries has been in the order of 30 percent or even more.

Given what Kellerman and Rivara said about gun violence, findings which have been replicated again and again over the past three decades, I don’t understand why everyone now seems to agree that while gun violence constitutes a public health threat, the problem isn’t being treated as a public health issue at all.

And before anyone starts yapping to me about the sanctity of their 2nd-Amendment ‘rights,’ mandating legal sanctions or rules to protect the community from a threat to public health has absolutely nothing to do with the Bill of Rights.

While the issue of closing public facilities or requiring social distancing in response to Covid-19 might have occasionally sparked a degree of phony outrage on the part of some freedom-loving conservatives, as well as that jerk who was elected President in 2016, the bottom line is that if a community vests a public body like a Health Department to set standards of public behavior to control a threat to health, what this body decides to do is what gets done.

I recall at one point during the Pandemic that Charlie Baker, the Governor, was waffling as to whether to issue a statewide masking mandate covering all public sites. Meanwhile, the Board of Health of the city of Chicopee, which happens to be adjacent to where I live, decided not to dilly-dally around, and pronounced a masking mandate covering every public facility in the town. I happened to pull into a convenience store in Chicopee that day and there was a notice posted on the door stating that nobody was allowed into the premises who wasn’t wearing a mask.

Know what would have happened if some patriotic supporter of the Constitution had gone into the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to demand that he be allowed to walk into that convenience store without wearing a mask? He would have been told, to quote Grandpa, ‘gai cocken’ (read: stick it up your you-know-what.)

But getting back to the issue of guns as a threat to public health, it’s not just the research which shows this concept to be true. Last year, the new Director of the CDC, Rochelle Walensky, stated that her agency believed that guns were a public health threat.

What did the CDC then do to respond to this threat? They put up a website to be the source for promoting that agency’s response to gun violence, stated as such: “CDC’s approach to preventing firearm injuries focuses on three elements: providing data to inform action; conducting research and applying science to identify effective solutions; and promoting collaboration across multiple sectors to address the problem.”

With all due respect to the CDC, virtually every jurisdiction in the United States already has an agency which can conduct these three tasks to inform and manage the threat of gun violence within the agency’s respective geographic domain. After all, isn’t this what virtually every Board of Health has been doing to protect its subject populations from Covid-19? Isn’t this what Health Boards have been doing for the last century in response to other public health threats like unclean water, or breakdowns in sanitation, or other health problems which need to be addressed in a community-wide way?

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out what the CDC refers to as the ‘root cause’ of gun violence – it’s a medical threat which occurs when certain individuals have access to guns which they use to inflict a serious injury to their own health or the health of someone else.

If the CDC wants to get serious about reducing gun violence, the agency should furnish every Board of Health with the monies to cover the costs of developing an action plan to deal with the problem, hiring an individual to administer the plan, and changing or fine-tuning the plan in response to how gun violence numbers change.

I don’t believe such a program currently exists in any public health jurisdiction within the United States. That being the case, why do we even bother talking about gun violence as a public health threat?

Why Can’t We Screen People for Guns like We Screen Them for Flights?

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              All of a sudden, it seems, some of the more moderate, or responsible, or whatever you want to call the non-MAGA wing of the GOP, have begun quietly talking about the one issue which nobody in the GOP ever talked about until this year, which is the issue known as gun control.

              Oh…my…God! Republic(ans) supporting anything that would infringe upon our God-given ‘right’ to own guns? No. Not possible. And yet, such blasphemy is beginning to occur.

              I’m referring today to an op-ed in The Hill where the writer, identified as a Professor of Computer Science and expert in data-driven, risk-based decision-making argues that what we need to do to reduce gun violence is to pay the costs of reducing the risk of guns getting into the wrong hands.

              How are we going to do this? By implementing for gun owners a strategy and program to weed out the bad guys similar to the TSA Pre-Check program used to keep the nuts off of plane flights. The program would require that every gun owner engage in some sort of continuous vetting procedure which would be renewed on a regular basis and would be required for anyone looking to buy or sell a gun.

              This guy’s brilliant idea is actually just a riff on the whole idea of universal background checks, which Gun-control Nation has been promoting for years. And it has always been assumed, without the slightest bit of evidence by the way, that forcing every gun owner to only transfer ownership of a gun after passing a background check wouldn’t eliminate gun violence but would at least reduce the annual carnage down to more ‘acceptable’ levels.

              What the editorial in The Hill does is stretch the background-check strategy to cover not only every gun transfer, but to cover the behavior and mental status of gun owners, whether they are or are not buying or selling a gun.  Which is what the TSA Pre-Check program is all about because your ability to be enrolled in the program has to be renewed whether you are taking a flight somewhere or not.

              Yea, yea, I know about all those times that some drunk asshole made an idiot of himself on a flight by trying to slap around a stew who didn’t sell him another drink or punched another passenger who had just told him to shut the f*ck up.

              As Aunt Florence used to say, I got news for you. Passengers abusing other passengers on public conveyances has been going on since the days of the Pony Express.  The reason we are more aware of it today is because everyone sitting on an airplane has a droid with a video feed. And when the nightly news has nothing better to talk about, they’ll show a video that some passenger on a United Airlines flight sold the station when he got off the plane.

              But the real issue of safety in air travel has nothing whatsoever to do with the behavior of the passengers while the plane is in flight. It has to do with the fact that every commercial airline operating in the U.S. needs to be equipped with GPS, which it only took the TSA twenty years to implement. That’s not bad timing to get a government program running, right?

              The problem with using background checks to weed out the people who shouldn’t have guns is that nearly all the 100,000+ yearly events where someone uses a gun to shoot someone else are committed by individuals who could never qualify to purchase, own, or carry a legal gun.

So, what would a screening program like the one being advocated in this editorial accomplish to reduce gun violence to any significant degree? Not one, goddamn thing.

I am still waiting for my friends who do research on gun violence for Gun-control Nation to come up with the first research project which actually tells us how many gun assaults are committed each year by individuals who have no legal permission to own a gun, or how many such individuals are walking around with guns they shouldn’t be allowed to own.

When that research is actually accomplished, maybe just maybe we’ll be able to figure out how to create and manage gun-control regulations which actually work.

Remember, it only took us twenty years to figure out how airline accidents could be almost entirely eliminated by using GPS.

Is Gun Violence Worse? We Don’t Know.

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              Our friend Eric Fleegler and his colleagues at Harvard, Emory, Brown, and Montefiore have just published what may be the most comprehensive and detailed analysis of gun violence produced over the past 30 years. And as expected, the numbers have been growing at an alarming rate over the last several years.

              The research is not only important in terms of the demographic details covering all the victims of this carnage, but even more important, the data has been connected and aggregated at the county level, the latter issue extremely significant since even within specific states, gun deaths can vary enormously between urban versus rural locales.

              This article is getting plenty of notice in the media and digital outlets which promote and support more controls over civilian-owned guns. I consider myself a member of that group, but I also feel it is necessary to approach such research from a critical point of view, particularly when the researchers in this instance claim that what they have published “may inform interventions to decrease firearm fatalities by targeting populations in specific geographic areas who have higher rates of firearm fatalities from homicide or suicide.”

              In that respect, I am drawn to the comments in this study where the authors list the ‘limitations’ which might influence or impact the value of their work. First and foremost, the paper makes no mention of the degree to which any study of gun violence is sadly incomplete because the data covering such events can only be recovered and analyzed for fatal shootings, which are probably less than 30 percent of all gun assaults.

              If it were possible to collect, aggregate and analyze non-fatal shootings, would having access to such data change the profile of gun violence created only by using data covering gun deaths? We don’t know.

What we do know, or at least I know, is that the only difference between fatal and non-fatal gun violence events is that in the latter category, the guy who pulled the trigger didn’t shoot straight. As opposed to car accidents, where factors like speed, weather, time of day and chemical impairment of the driver will significantly determine the number of fatal versus non-fatal accidents, whereas no such environmental differentiations can or should be made when it comes to analyzing intentional injuries caused by guns.

The second limitation in this article which is not mentioned by the authors but is generic to all public health gun research, is the degree to which we learn an awful lot about the victims of intentional gun assaults, but nothing at all about the perpetrators. And since the goal of these researchers, as mentioned above, is to help develop more effective ‘interventions’ to deal with gun violence, how do you develop any interventions, legal or otherwise, when you have such limited information about the people whose behavior requires the development of more effective interventional strategies in the first place?

The good news is that, at least for the next two years, we will continue to have an Administration in place which is committed to seeking and implementing better controls over guns, particularly the types of guns which are used to commit the more than 100,000 intentional fatal and non-fatal gun injuries which occur every year.

Would it be asking too much for my friends in the public health-medical research community to sit down and try to figure out how to access data which would allow them to conduct the same kind of analysis about the shooting population which this article so productively presents about the population which is shot?

I would hope not.

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