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?