May 4, 2011

Safer Streets 2011: Doctors Probing for Guns in the Home Misses the Diagnosis

I answer doctors who oppose gun violence and I generally have a standard response by now. Since we’re talking about safety at the core of the discussion, it’s fair to say that their editorials and pleadings to reduce gun violence wind up killing the patient, that is, the disarmed community.

Pediatricians who ask kids to rat out their parents for guns in the home is the equivalent of operating on the in-office patient and not noticing that he has stopped breathing. The focus is so narrow on so-called ‘gun violence’ that it ignores who is doing the shooting, and in every case in the pediatrician’s office, it isn’t their patient’s parents. Why the nosey probe and punishment where there is no chance of finding the disease? The problem lies in misinformation and the very idea that gun violence is a disease.

Before I became a liberty writer, I was a Los Angeles Paramedic. I saw criminal shootings and wondered why the Paramedics aren’t seeing self-defense shootings in equal numbers. I found out, and it led me to elaborate on that question and how it impacts all of our other rights. Like all of gun control, doctors who oppose gun ownership will never touch violence and might as well treat a patient and not notice he has stopped breathing. They are missing a critical point, if it is safety we’re talking about.

The patient – the disarmed community – dies from neglect. The movement to discourage private ownership and carry of guns forgets their overwhelming value as an asset they are not noticing. For physicians and nurses, it would be like ignoring the primary purpose of a patient checklist. The better analogy would be their refusal to follow a checklist peers are encouraging for optimal patient care.

Although many blame the NRA for being the ‘gun lobby’, there are actually 90 million gun owner adults who know one thing rather well: they have not only the right to carry a handgun, but they have the legal authority to stop a violent crime in progress. This legal authority is supported by various doctrines, laws and customs in the U.S., not the least of which is the second amendment, the tenth amendment, and a variety of public policy and public interests. Many Americans see this in action in reports of the Good Samaritan who stops shootings such as Carlsbad, California’s, or United Flight 93, or even Joe Zamudio who dog-piled on (alleged) assassin Jared Loughner in Tucson (even though Zamudio was armed with his handgun). These are praised by law enforcement. Note that these people are not charged with interference, but praised. Multiply this times the 2.5 million others who do this every year (from police reports turned in to the FBI) and you get a good feel for why we are armed by the millions.

It works. This keeps the roughly 5 million known violent acts reported from becoming around 7.5 million violent acts; completed violent acts. This is about 2.5 million trauma cases the Emergency Department will never see.

What doctors and other practitioners see as violence is not a matter of gun and gunman getting together somehow, but of how they are stopped or not stopped when they choose to act violently. What the Emergency Room is really seeing is often the result of insufficient resistance to crime in force and in spirit: completed acts of violence. The beatings, the rapes, the crime-on-crime violence, the knifings (what EMS calls the Knife and Gun Club) and more are all due to a political indoctrination of surrender. This is the neglect which kills the patient.. er, community. It also grows government.

But not all physicians and other practitioners are against guns: there are plenty of second amendment-friendly doctors and nurses who speak out to educate their peers. And, brother, do they need it!

How you solve this problem is not unlike the Health Equity mission: public education and outreach. This means to quit probing households for gun ownership and to begin to educate the public in their own legal authority to stop a violent act in progress, especially if one is the target of that violence. Why? Because violent crime is not stopped politically. Violent crime is best met and stopped at the scene of the crime. Anything else is as deleterious as interfering with Citizen CPR education. [Initially, doctors did oppose Citizen CPR, and for the same reasons some oppose the armed citizen today; misunderstanding in need of education. I have articulated an identity of moral purpose values and public interest I call The CPR Corollary. It has twelve elements showing how the ubiquitous armed citizen is as valuable to saving lives as a CPR-trained public is. I am building a virtual book tour for June on this subject. Interested bloggers may contact me at [email protected]]

Americans have a great deal of latitude in acting in time of emergency in the absence of EMS and Police. Gun control – and probing for a gun in the home – interferes with this and is counter to established public policy and interest.

It’s time for the differential diagnosis to change; this is not a matter of the criminals’ easy access to guns, but a matter of the criminals’ easy access to society. Doctors against violence are looking in the wrong place for the germs.

John Longenecker is publisher of the Safer Streets Commentaries and he is author of Even Safer Streets 2011 – The Second Amendment as a Mainstream Value.

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