Monday, May 13, 2013

Baby Doctors and Guns

Maggie Fox of NBC News is reporting today that earlier this month the American Academy of Pediatrics sent 100 doctors to Washington to lobby congress. No, not for, or against Obamacare, tobacco companies, or even car seat manufacturers. The pediatricians went there to tell congress that gun control isn't a political argument, but rather a public health issue.

Fox quotes, Emory University's Dr. Barbara Stoll as asking, "Can we re-frame the conversation so that it is about data, not about political beliefs?"

Good luck trying to sell that line to Wayne LaPierre, Ted Nugent, and the rest of the gun totin' crowd, Doc. You might as well be telling werewolves that eating human flesh is bad for their cholesterol levels.

Actually this could rank right up there with the charge of the light brigade. The AAP is facing a bunch of clods in the senate who wouldn't even pass a minor expansion of background checks a few weeks ago and they want a lot more than that. According to Ms. Fox, the 60,000 strong pediatrician organization is there with a wish list that makes Barak Obama look like a center right republican. Among other things, the good doctors want an outright ban on assault style weapons and mandatory background checks and waiting periods before the sale of all firearms. It doesn't stop there, they also want the government to ban high capacity ammunition magazines and enforce various hand gun restrictions, plus they are insisting on requirements for safe firearm storage.

The group isn't happy either. Fox quotes Dr. Daniel Webster of John Hopkins as saying, "They (congress) have been doing a very good job of weakening the laws to make it easier for gun dealers to have the least amount of responsibility. They have made it harder to sue dealers and made it harder to access data on which dealers are pumping out guns to criminals."

Think not? Fox points out that Obama issued an executive order directing the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct a study of  gun related injuries. The NRA controlled congress promptly cut the CDC's budget by the exact amount it had spent on gun violence research. Presumably that message was simply less time consuming than putting a horse's severed head in the CDC director's bed while he, or she slept.

Ms. Fox also cites work done by Dr. Matthew Miller of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center. Miller divided the population in two. He put one half of us into high gun ownership states and the other half into low gun ownership states. What he found was that between the years of 1988 and 1997, 21,148 Americans were killed by guns in the high ownership states as opposed to 7,266 people killed in low ownership states. In addition, according to his work, he found that 369 children under the age of fourteen were killed in high ownership states while 97 died in the low ownership half.

To drive all this home further, the article quotes research done by Dr. Arthur Kellerman of the Rand Corporation think tank. His work shows that the U. S. gun death rate is 20 times that of other wealthy nations with a population of over one million people. In addition he found that your odds of being murdered by a gun goes up 2.7 times if you have a gun in your home.

So much for that relentless NRA mantra that drones on about how we'd be safer if only all of us had guns.

Unfortunately for the American Academy of Pediatrics and scientists everywhere the NRA and other gun addicted groups don't play by any sort of normal rules and have no real use for data. In the face of all this damning information, the response of the pro gun group, Second Amendment Foundation was to put together their own group of doctors. They enlisted 1,400 physicians and called it, Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership, or DRGO for short. DRGO's answer to all these mind boggling numbers? They say they are bullshit. Yes, it is just faulty scholarship driven by, "...the AAP and AMA's deep seated prejudice against gun owners."

You bet and there is no evidence smoking cigarettes causes heart disease and cancer. That is what the tobacco industry's hand picked doctors and scientists maintained for decades before the awful truth became too gruesomely obvious to refute with either a straight face, or license to practice.

The NRA takes this threat seriously. After all, doctors don't have to run for re-election, so they aren't nearly as malleable as your average politician. The organization is so concerned that, Ms. Fox writes, they have sponsored legislation in Alabama, North Carolina, West Virginia, Minnesota, and Oklahoma that prevents a pediatrician from asking parents if they have a gun in the home. The very same physician is allowed to ask mom and dad if they make their child ride in a car seat, where household medicines and poisons are stored, and if he or she wears a helmet while riding a bicycle.

Fox reports that the laws puzzle pediatricians who don't understand why the NRA is insistent on getting them passed.

Well, welcome to the convoluted real world of the NRA doctors. You are not dealing with rational human beings. These beasts don't care about your data. All they are interested in is preventing you from having any influence with your patients, the public, and lawmakers everywhere.

Yes, this isn't a cancer, or a congenital heart defect you're attempting to heal now. There is no drug, no therapy, no amount of research that can cure this contagion. You're up against a thinking, well financed, politically powerful, and amoral disease that infects us like a mutant version of The Black Plague. One that infests us without a trace of soul. You are, in fact, fighting against institutionalized death itself.

Slate and @GunDeaths reports that as of yesterday at least 3,970 Americans have been murdered by guns since December 14, 2012.

It is a number that doesn't even make the bastards blink.


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