Not content simply to spew its pro-gun message, the National Rifle Association now complains that doctors who point out the terrible effects that bullets have on human beings should, basically, mind their own business. Chutzpah in the extreme!
For the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), injury prevention is one of its main goals. It published a study in 1992 entitled Gun Ownership as a Risk Factor for Homicide in the Home, concluding that such risk was 2.7% greater generally, and fivefold for suicides. CDC sought additional funding in successive years to continue its research. By 1996, Congress had added a rider to the CDC’s funding, renewed annually to date, saying that “none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control may be used to advocate or promote gun control.” The study’s conclusion called into question the NRA’s main mantra, finding that a gun in the home does not, in fact, increase safety. Thus the Congress, in effect, prevented CDC from gathering data and information to determine more comprehensively the risk factors of gun ownership, what that risk means, and whether reasonable prevention measures exist. In an abundance of caution, to this date, the CDC does not engage in research concerning firearms. In fact, the author of the study was fired in 1999.
The NRA then persuaded Congress that research into gun deaths was not appropriate to the CDC because, in crossing the ideological red line, it called into question the promotion of firearms in the home as a security measure.
On October 30, 2018, the American College of Physicians published a position paper stating that “firearm violence continues to be a public health crisis in the United States that requires the nation’s immediate attention.” On November 7, the NRA responded in a tweet accusing the doctors of gun control bias [an oxymoron?] asserting that “half the articles in the Annals of Internal Medicine [the organization’s journal] are pushing for gun control. Most upsetting [to the NRA], however, the medical community seems to have consulted NO ONE but themselves.” The NRA tweet opened with the sentence:
Someone should tell self-important anti-gun doctors to stay in their lane.
The insult drew thousands of counter messages from doctors, especially trauma specialists, accompanied by pictures of grisly firearm wounds and stories of innocent victims and their families. The Journal’s editor replied:
Annals of Internal Medicine is not anti-gun; we are anti-bullet holes in people. And if we are biased, the bias is toward counseling our patients to reduce their risk of firearm injury and toward evidence-based solutions to the public health crisis that firearm injury has become.
According to one doctor and NRA member, a psychiatrist who leads a group called Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership, “The NRA’s characterization of ‘anti-gun doctors’ is correct.” In an interview with The New York Times, he stated, “Doctors are not the experts on gun safety. You have to be an experienced firearms owner and have some training to know about gun safety. Physicians don’t unless they have that training.”
In simple language, the NRA and its singular medical professional assert that gun safety and gun control require an expertise above and beyond that of physicians who treat victims, including the 35,000 who die each year as a result of gun violence. These anti-gun doctors are told to “stay in their lane” while the NRA exercises its “professional expertise” in gun safety? This is not new: Doctors were strongly told in 1996 to stay away from any comment or risk professional suicide while more than 600,000 Americans have perished as a result of gun violence in the 22 years since. The medical community—except for one individual—expresses commitment to those injured and killed by firearms while the NRA behaves like a bully carping about lane drift. In effect, the NRA opposes even the study of an epidemic as fellow citizens succumb to its ravages. In 1984, George Orwell might have described the NRA conception as “malquote,” a flaw or inaccuracy inconsistent with orthodoxy. Promoting a concern about bullet holes in people focuses on the firearms themselves, a clear misdirection in the NRA mind.
It is classical absurdist logic by the NRA opposing any evidence that its message of absolute right to gun ownership causes unnecessary death—and that this is of concern to a vast majority of Americans. Perhaps its throwback mentality will begin to collapse upon itself. One thing is for sure, any NRA member will receive the best trauma care for gunshot wounds despite personal beliefs; and that member will not order the treating physician into another lane.