Today, the politically correct crowd tries to recast what the founding fathers considered a constitutional right into a “public health problem.” Of course, I’m talking about their knee-jerk reaction to blame the increasing episodes of gun violence in this country on the right to bear arms. They are off target by a mile. But as you know, science never gets in the way of political correctness.
So let’s start at the beginning…
The administration in Washington, D.C., claims these mass shootings don’t occur in foreign countries where they have strict, draconian gun control laws. But that is simply not true.
On the other hand, they try to reassure Americans about the presence in our midst of real mass killers from ISIS. They tell us more Americans “die in their bathtubs” than are subjected to violence from ISIS.
Yet the very same argument applies to domestic gun violence. Lawful gun owners with lawfully obtained guns only cause an infinitesimally small number of deaths each year in America.
When you factor out gun deaths from intentional suicides, criminal-on-criminal homicides, and other cases, the threat to average law-abiding citizens from lawful firearms is exceedingly small. As a forensic pathologist I know how to do those numbers, even if it alludes the White House and their Surgeon General.
That argument leaves us with the remaining threat of unlawful mass shooters and the “human factors” involved in these shootings…
You see, in every area of science — including transportation, engineering, public safety, forensic science — scientists must take into account “human factors” in analyzing designs, systems and failures. But when it comes to firearms, public health experts refuse to acknowledge the human factors present in the mass shootings and episodes of violence that periodically take place, not only in this country, but around the world.
We should categorize at least two, and perhaps more, of the notorious mass shooting cases over the past seven years as extensions of Islamic fundamentalist terrorism. Although the current administration adamantly refuses to do so.
Of the remaining tragic mass shootings, we know the shooters all took psychiatric drugs of one kind or another at the time of the incident. We also know for a fact that SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) create chemical imbalances in the brain that increase the propensity for violence. Most cases involve violence toward self, in the form of the depressed patients hurting themselves.
But occasionally, patients who take these drugs turn the violence outward — by hurting others. We know the tragic results of these relatively rare (compared to suicides) incidents all too well.
Ironically, more than one-third of violent criminals incarcerated for violent offences take SSRIs or other drugs — which incite violence — while in jail. And all at taxpayer expense.
How tragically ignorant.
Policy makers blame guns instead of drugs
We have an expensive public health system that is supposed to protect the public from harmful drugs like SSRIs. But in this case, instead of protecting us from harmful drugs, it tries to turn our attention to firearms, about which it knows nothing. This misplaced attention is how government public health deals with what it calls an “epidemic of gun violence.”
Of course, public experts and epidemiologists should also know about real epidemics (from which comes their word for themselves).
But real experts know the “national” gun violence “epidemic” is occurring in just a handful of cities — such as Chicago, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, and Philadelphia. These same cities have been the beneficiaries of “enlightened,” politically correct “leadership” and policies on public health and public safety for decades.
We really don’t have a “national epidemic” of gun violence in the U.S. The so-called gun violence epidemic is really a “point source outbreak,” confined to a few specific urban locations. In fact, if you take out the gun violence in these few cities, the U.S. has lower rates of gun violence nationally than in most countries with strict gun control laws.
Of course, the government medical research giants — the CDC and the NIH — are fighting their own war about gun violence, against each other.
The CDC doesn’t spend taxpayer dollars on gun violence. (Perhaps because the agency can be reined in by Congress and has line-item budgeting, a sound fiscal practice.)
But the NIH has wide latitude in deciding what they want to fund and study. Ultimately, there is no accountability as to how they waste taxpayer dollars. So they’re happy to fund gun-violence research.
But the NIH is way out of its league on everything having to do with epidemics, public health, and public safety. Though it’s certainly good at one thing — spending our money.
“Anti-gun advocates are looking for creative methods to change public opinion. What better way than under the auspices of science. Now, they just need some government sponsored, taxpayer-funded data points to validate their anti-gun agenda,” wrote Chris Cox of the NRA Institute.
Propaganda hidden under the guise of science
Trying to hide advocacy to change public opinion under the skirts of science is a most dangerous game.
Over 20 years ago, I personally witnessed how our nation’s top public health professionals set aside some of the “inconvenient” science regarding another public health “scourge” to advance their anti-tobacco agenda. They ignored real data that light smoking (less than half-a-pack per day) — and cigars or pipe smoking — offers some health benefits. And they misrepresented what the science really showed about so-called “passive smoking.”
The “risks” of so-called “second hand” smoke were also way “overblown.” They have since even invented a third category of “third-hand” smoke to try to make the science fit the agenda.
The government ignored the science about all the other causes of lung cancer and ways to prevent it. And now, it’s shooting blanks for what still remains the number one killer cancer. In fact, today, the majority of people today diagnosed with lung cancer are either never-smokers or former smokers who quit long ago.
Now, the government wants to repeat its big mistake by boiling down gun violence to their off-target focus on guns, instead of human factors and the toxic effects of psychiatric drugs such as antidepressants, which millions of Americans take each day each day.
Let’s make sure we find the right target this time.
“Tale of 2 Agencies: CDC Avoids Gun Violence Research But NIH Funds It,” JAMA (www.jamanetwork.com) 4/6/2016
“Concerns Over Mass Shootings Spark Rise In Concealed Carry Permits,” National Public Radio (www.npr.org) 4/12/2016