Let’s Treat Gun Owners Like Doctors

Responsible physicians are used to have to complying with mandatory spawned by the actions of a few irresponsible physicians. Why not ask the same of gun owners?




The number of physicians in the U.S.:  700,000.
Accidental deaths caused by Physicians per year:  120,000.
Accidental deaths per physician:   0.171%
              U.S. Dept. Of Health and Human Services

Number of gun owners in the U.S.:   80,000,000  (Yes, that's 80 million)
Number of accidental* gun deaths per year: 1,500.
Number of accidental* deaths per gun owner:   0.0000188 %
              Statistics from  FBI

So, statistically, doctors are approximately 9,000 times more dangerous than gun owners .        - a popular internet 2011 chestnut

* “Accidental” excludes homicides and suicides. If you count those the number of gun deaths is about 30,000 per year. Between 2003 and 2007 15,000 of those gun deaths were children 19 or younger. (That is about twice the number of children deaths in motor vehicle accidents.) In 2010 there were 6750 U.S. gun deaths among 1-24 year olds. (Twice as many deaths as cancer, 5 times as many as heart disease, and 15 times as many as infectious disease for this age group)

The gun owners I know are very responsible about gun safety. Why make them “pay” for the transgressions of a few with stricter enforcement of regulations and/or creation of new ones?  Why not! We do it to physicians!

In response to a million dollar Medicare scam in Florida that billed sham patients for sham home care services Congress passed a law requiring that EVERY physician had to attest that he or she had met the patient “Face to Face” (F2F) within 30 days of ordering home care services.  Fraudulent actions by less than 0.001% of physicians have burdened all of them with a duplicative, clinically irrelevant, non-reimbursed reporting requirement that is of no use to patient, physician, or home care agency. No big deal you might think, but in reality the absence of the F2F report has delayed millions of dollars of Medicare reimbursement to all certified home care agencies throughout the nation. Hm-m, maybe that was the real reason the law was passed?

In response to “just a few deaths” from automatic weapons in the hands of less than 0.01% of gun owners why shouldn’t we pass some laws to improve gun safety.  Well, we apparently have; about 20,000 of them; laws that is, not gun owners. One problem is that they are not enforced.  The chief enforcement agency, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) of the Department of Justice is hobbled... restricted... dare we say “castrated” ... as Jon Stewart has.

The ATF, THE federal agency overseeing firearms:

is prohibited from establishing a registry of gun owners (imagine no one keeping a registry of car ownersis prohibited from requiring gun dealers to maintain inventories of their wares

is prohibited from inspecting any gun dealer’s records more than once a year

is prohibited from revealing firearms trace data to anyone other than law enforcement personnel (firearm tracing is done for  firearms used in crimes. One study showed that 57% of guns used in crimes in one state were traced to only 1% of gun dealers.)

is prohibited from requiring gun dealers to respond to police inquiries.

Who made these rules?  Rep. (former) Todd Tiahrt (R-Kansas) put them deep into a 2006 spending bill. The Tiahrt Amendment, as it has become to be known, also permits gun dealers to destroy gun registration applications within 24 hours of completion so as “to avoid any inadvertent errors from being promulgated.”

Why doesn’t the ATF Director complain? Another Congressman, who was the winner of the NRA Defender of Freedom Award for that year, inserted into the 2006 Patriot Act the requirement that the ATF Director ( a mere Bureau chief)  be subject to Senate confirmation; the only Bureau Chief with that requirement. Senate has never done it.  The current part-time ATF Director is a Prosecutor from Minnesota.

Why are Federal laws needed? Massachusetts has some of the most comprehensive gun laws and in 2009 had one of the lowest per capita gun deaths in the country, BUT...in 2011 366 of the 699 guns used in crimes in Massachusetts were traced to sales in other states. One-third of them (133) were bought in New Hampshire and used in Massachusetts.

So we may not need any more laws or regulations for gun safety. We could just repeal the one “Tiahrt Amendment”, and let the ATF begin to do its job...

... but maybe physicians should hire the NRA lobbyists to push for repeal of the F2F regulations.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Tim from the Bog February 20, 2013 at 09:46 PM
Well Doctor, if you pick and choose the data, you can defend any position. Most of the data you used comes directly from and cleverly squewed by the Brady Campaign. Nice try. Even a well educated person such as yourself, has been dooped into believing that machine guns are readily available to the general public, they are not. I noted that the death rate amoung " children " , you used two differnt time frames, as you were instructed to, but what you left out was the number directly linked to gang warfare, and instead presented this stat. as if all these " children " were somehow killed by accident. Real data doesn't support your anti-civil rights position. See: http://www.law.harvard.edu/students/orgs/jlpp/Vol30_No2_KatesMauseronline.pdf
Herbert Mathewson, MD February 21, 2013 at 03:17 PM
Thanks for your comment. The fact that I began my blog with a tongue-in-cheek "statistical quote" should give you a clue that I agree that data can be selected to bloster almost any position. Assault guns are in fact available in the U.S. since the expiration of their ban occurred several year ago. I also agree that that many fo the "children gun deaths" are the reult of gang and drug warfare in the cities. I have never seen that data teased out. If the ATF was permitted to establish a national database perhaps we would have that number. The link you sent from Harvard/law is an interesting comparison of international gun death rates, but as you pointed out it is difficult to evaluate the ata from some countries like Russia. For instance, Luxembourg appears to have a very high gun rate death which merely reflects that Luxembourg has a a very small population, so their "rates" of almost everything will appear high. You are also right that my opinion of which civil rights are the more important favors the potential victims rather than the irresponsible gun owner.
Tim from the Bog February 21, 2013 at 07:56 PM
Good afternoon Dr.. After reading over your first post again and you second post, I am compelled to correct you on your terminology. You use the terms 'machine gun' and 'assault gun' or 'assault weapon' , interchangably. They are not. Machine Guns, are fully automatic weapons, and have been functionally prohibited from the general public sence 1934. The term ' assault weapon' is a term that has been coined by anti-second amendment advocates, in an attempt to mis-lead the un-informed, and convince said un-informed that a certain class of firearm is somehow more leathal than another. All of the mis-representations of these firearms is based on cosmetic or ergonomic features which have nothing to do with their ballistic capabilities. The same holds true for the mis-representation of " high capacity " magazines. It can be argued ballistically that the V.P.'s recommendation for somebody to ' get yourself a shotgun ' , would be providing that person with a high capacity weapon based on their own logic. I'll demonstrate; A Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm has a standard capacity magazine of 17 rounds. Each time this weapons trigger is pulled, one 9mm round is fired. A Remington 870 pump action shotgun, with a standard magazine of 5 or 7 rounds of 00 buckshot will fire eight 9mm rounds each time the trigger is pulled. As for the " assault weapons ban". It has been demostrated, that the last one was a failure, according to the Clinton Justice Dept.. It is also un-Constitutional. See Heller.


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