The AMA and Gun Control
The following was sent to Susan
Landers, public health correspondent for AMedNews.com, at 12:17 PM on August
20th, 2001 - email@example.com
To: American Medical News
Re: "Target Prevention" by Kathleen Phalen (8/20/01) (http://www.ama-assn.org/sci-pubs/amnews/pick_01/hlsa0820.htm)
Unfortunately, the umbrella of
"public health" cannot shield us from the damage associated with the
entry of crusading physicians like Dr. Wintemute into the debate over gun
control. As relative novices in the relevant fields of criminology, ballistics,
history, and political science, physicians advocating increased gun control laws
are practicing dangerously beyond their expertise. It matters little to most
physicians to know that the NRA expectedly disagrees with Dr. Wintemute, but
readers who want to know what serious criminologists think about the
medicalization of gun control should at least read Guns and Public Health -
Epidemic of Violence, or Pandemic of Propaganda?" from Tennessee Law Review
(spring 1995:62:3) (http://www.2ndlawlib.com/journals/tennmed.html),
wherein liberal criminologist Don Kates (et al) point out that there has been a
striking lack of integrity in the "public health" literature on gun
control, replete with distortion of data, flawed methodology, and when all else
fails, complete fabrication of "facts."
"...CDC and other health advocate sages
build their case not only by suppressing facts, but by overt fraud,
fabricating statistics, and falsifying references to support them."
The factual errors and misleading
statements made by Dr. Wintemute are so numerous that it would take an article
longer than the original one in Aug. 20th's American Medical News (http://www.ama-assn.org/sci-pubs/amnews/pick_01/hlsa0820.htm)
to list and rebut them all. Fortunately, many of them are addressed in Dr. Edgar
Suter's "Guns in the Medical Literature - a Failure of Peer Review"
which the Journal of the Medical Association of Georgia dared to publish in a
time when politically correct medical journals are blatantly anti-gun in their
editorial policies (http://rkba.org/research/suter/med-lit.html?suter%20/%20first_hit).
Suter shares Kates' scathing contempt of the "results-oriented
research" so characterizing of the medical literature on gun control, where
the authors bend or invent "data" to fit their agenda.
Although the editorial board of
Guns and Ammo has so far had the integrity not to publish studies on the risks
and benefits of antihyperlipidemic medications, several of the more prestigious
medical journals have eagerly taken up the issue of gun control. Their bias is
evident when generous editorial space lauds "crusading physicians"
like Dr. Wintemute, sometimes with brief rebuttals from detractors, yet the
equally demanding efforts of physicians like Dr. Wheeler of Doctors for
Responsible Gun Ownership (http://www.claremont.org/1_drgo.cfm)
never seems to be featured or presented as positive, even though it could easily
save far more lives.
When public policy is set by a
handful of well-meaning but hoplophobic zealots, and the debate is presented to
a public with a world-view whose horizon is often defined by MTV, Miami Vice
reruns, and Oprah, it is all the more important to move the debate beyond the
media's shallow sound-byte of "NRA vs. Soccer Moms." Doctors for
Sensible Gun Laws (http://www.dsgl.org/links.htm)
has assembled articles on gun control from the criminological and public health
literature, and in an effort to educate readers, some of the more salient ones
follow, several of which address invalid assumptions made by proponents of
additional gun laws.
Since the "global
perspective" was included in the article featuring Wintemute, readers
should know that on an international level, David Kopel has published extensive
research showing that it is only through hand-picking specific countries and
time frames that any correlation between tough gun laws and low crime or suicide
rates can be alleged (http://i2i.org/CrimJust.htm).
If looked at honestly, suicide rates vary mostly by culture, and demographics,
but gun laws exert no effect other than minor changes in the method used,
without affecting overall deaths. Violent crime rates also vary culturally, when
gun control laws are "toughened," crime rates nearly always increase,
even if previously on the decline. As far as the "5,000 violent
deaths" mentioned in the AMN article, which presumably are the ones causing
recent hand wringing at United Nations, Dr. Wintemute would do well to check out
at whose hands most of these deaths occurred. As R.J. Rummel points out,
genocide kills 5 to 10 times more innocents than criminal use of firearms (http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/welcome.html),
and Jay Simkin documents that genocides have always been preceded by the
seemingly innocuous step of "gun registration" (http://www.jpfo.org/L-laws.htm).
In the past 100 years, countries with strict gun control have had an average of
well over 4,000 citizens per day murdered by their own police and military, and
for all this carnage, there is no offsetting beneficial effect documented for
gun control laws - in fact researcher John Lott has pointed out some compelling
evidence that gun control laws may actually increase domestic crime rates (http://www.tsra.com/LottBook.htm),
and Kopel's St. Louis Law Review article, Peril or Protection? - The Risks and
Benefits of Handgun Prohibition supports that conclusion (http://www.constitution.org/2ll/2ndschol/63perilo.htm).
The risk/benefit analysis of gun
ownership is not new; our nation's founders saw it as but one facet of the
timeless and all-important balance of power between government and citizen. Many
physicians, who hopefully spent more time studying physiology than history,
dismiss the Second Amendment as either archaic, protecting only State's rights,
or referring only to firearms with "legitimate sporting use." In order
to understand the jurisprudence of the Second Amendment, Halbrook's George Mason
Univ. Law Review (http://www.2ndlawlib.org/journals/haljuris.html),
and the works of Stephen Halbrook (http://www.stephenhalbrook.com),
including the U.S. vs. Emerson briefing (http://www.stephenhalbrook.com/ami-bri.html),
are excellent and well referenced, and many other Second Amendment scholars have
published on this topic in the journal literature (http://www.2ndlawlib.org/journals).
With military-style "assault" rifles having been easily available in
the U.S. for a hundred years, yet comprising a relatively minor fraction of
criminally misused guns, and with their inherent tendency to wound, rather than
kill (as would the average hunting rifle), there is no reason for a legitimate
government to seek limitations on their ownership, or create a
dangerous-in-the-wrong-hands registration "hit-list" of their owners.
While the medical literature
accepts the "if it saves but one life" motivation of misguided
physicians like Dr. Wintemute, physicians who strongly oppose increased gun
control are often asked why they won't compromise. My own motivation is a poster
of the First Million Mom's March, which wouldn't have been possible without the
"reasonable" step of merely registering guns (http://guntruths.com/Resource/Posters/1st_million_mom_march.htm).
Andrew Johnstone, RPh/MD
Doctors for Sensible Gun Laws
To Get Your Letters Printed Here
Click here and read submission guidelines.