Louis DeBroux / November 14, 2018

Dear Anti-Gun Doctors: Stick to What You Know

Doctors deal with gunshot wounds, but the American College of Physicians gets the prescription wrong.

A recent feud between the NRA and the American College of Physicians (ACP) has stoked the debate surrounding gun control and mental illness. It also reminds us once again of the unbridled arrogance of leftist/progressive academia.

Following last week’s mass murder at a California bar, the ACP released a list of gun-control recommendations, to which the NRA responded, “Someone should tell self-important anti-gun doctors to stay in their lane. … Half of the articles in Annals of Internal Medicine are pushing for gun control. Most upsetting, however, the medical community seems to have consulted NO ONE but themselves.”

Some pro-gun-control physicians took umbrage at having their wisdom questioned, and they lashed back with comments like, “After treating countless patients with life altering spinal cord injuries and brain injuries secondary to gun shot wounds, I would have to say this is my lane.”

The ACP’s gun-control advocacy is just the latest in a long list of medical organizations becoming overtly politicized and pushing a progressive social agenda.

The problem is that basing public policy on emotion, rather than logic and fact, produces unhelpful and counterproductive outcomes. Indeed, the “solutions” the ACP offers are already the law in California.

One of the ACP’s recommendations is to have doctors pressure patients to reveal whether they have firearms in the home, which is frankly none of their business. Owning a firearm is a constitutionally protected right, and law-abiding citizens should not be stigmatized for exercising that right. In fact, numerous studies, including one commissioned by the CDC at the behest of Barack Obama, revealed that exponentially more lives were saved by armed citizens than were taken by violent criminals using guns.

In the 1960s, in response to severe mistreatment of the mentally ill housed in state mental institutions, President John F. Kennedy led the call for “deinstitutionalization,” releasing nearly 560,000 patients back into society, treating them with psychotropic drugs in community health centers. Today, roughly 3.5 million Americans with severe psychiatric disorders receive no treatment, despite accounting for 10% of all homicides, 20% of all jail/prison inmates, and 30% of the homeless population.

With the highly publicized mass shootings in recent years, there has been a renewed call for mental-health reform, but leftists have politicized the issue, and there is little trust to be had for their policy prescriptions.

In 2015, Obama attempted to use an executive order to declare any elderly American who needed help managing their finances as “mentally defective,” at which point their names would be placed on the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) list, denying them their right to own a firearm for self-defense.

With progressives in the mental-health field declaring that conservative viewpoints are a sign of mental illness, does anyone really trust a Barack Obama or a Hillary Clinton not to use that pseudo-science as an excuse to strip constitutional rights from their political adversaries?

What is particularly notable is that while the ACP and other physicians’ groups are pushing gun control, they are actually embracing policies that literally kill people.

For example, the American Medical Association (AMA), which has come out in support of an “assault weapons” ban on the one hand, is reconsidering its position on physician-assisted suicide. Where the AMA once staunchly opposed assisted suicide for obvious ethical reasons, it now refuses to reaffirm its long-held position and is considering supporting the practice. The AMA’s ethics panel previously rejected the practice, arguing, “Physician-assisted suicide is fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks.” This fear has proven warranted, as the practice has led to an overall increase in suicides.

In Europe, following the legalization of euthanasia, doctors have put thousands of patients to death against their will with no legal authorization, including chronically ill patients and newborn babies with birth defects.

The World Health Organization this year ceased classifying gender dysphoria/gender identity disorder (“transgenderism”) as a mental disorder, instead classifying it as a “sexual health condition.” More than 40% of all transgender individuals will attempt suicide in their lifetimes, and pretending that it is not a mental disorder will directly result in more untreated individuals attempting suicide.

These physicians seem to think they have some kind of superior insight into every aspect of life simply because they are skilled in one area of life, which is odd. Mechanics also deal with diagnosing and fixing highly complex systems, but we never hear ASE-certified mechanics demanding their views on obesity be adopted as official public policy.

We do, however, hear from celebrities, who seem to think that portraying someone else in a movie qualifies them to expound upon public policy.

In fact, when it comes to preventing needless deaths, physicians should get their own house in order before dictating policy to the rest of us. After all, the opioid crisis claims more than 42,000 lives per year — 9,000 more than guns — but that would not be the case without doctors prescribing the addictive pharmaceuticals. Yet even the lives lost to opioids are a fraction of the more than 250,000 deaths attributable to medical errors each year.

In our society, physicians are well-respected, and rightfully so. They spend years rigorously training to become experts in human anatomy and physiology, and in diagnosing and treating a bewildering array of diseases, afflictions, disorders, and trauma. We all have benefitted from their skill and dedication.

But doctors are not gods. They are fallible, and outside of their field of expertise they have no more and no less insight than the rest of us into what public policies will make for a more peaceful, happier, healthier society. A little humility would make for a more productive discussion.


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