Are 141 Medical Groups Really Anti-Gun?

posted on May 10, 2016

Last month, 141 medical groups signed a letter to Congressional Appropriations Committee leaders, asking them to rescind the ban on Centers for Disease Control (CDC) funding for gun-control research.

The letter, from a group called Doctors for America, acknowledges that the CDC is not allowed to “advocate or promote gun control,” but claims the language has created a “dramatic chilling effect” on its ability to study gun violence, ominously described as “a serious public health epidemic.”

Reading that, you might think, “Wow, 141 is a lot. Are doctors really against guns?”

I thought, “Wow, there are 141 medical groups?”

Can you even name 10? Let’s see, there’s The American Medical Association, check ... and I think there’s an American Pediatric Association. Oh, Doctors Without Borders. Annnnnd … Obamacare. Does Johnson & Johnson count? How many is that?

I drew the short tongue depressor here at A1F Daily and got to do a little research on these 141 groups. Some were familiar, but many more became familiar as I went down the list—because they kept reappearing in different forms.

Here’s how you get to 141 “medical groups”:

There are no less than five—no, make that six—state chapters of Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) listed, which makes PSR the poster child for padding a list. Why wasn’t it enough to just list “Physicians for Social Responsibility”?

You’ve heard of the Academic Pediatric Association (APA). Or, maybe you were thinking of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), or the American Pediatric Society (APS). I almost missed the Pediatric Policy Council, but it turns out they’re actually a part of the APS … as is The Society for Pediatric Research. (Note: The Washington Chapter AAP somehow earned a separate listing.)

Oh, and I just found an Iowa Chapter Physicians for Social Responsibility listed. We’re up to seven … no, eight PSR entities: There’s a Chicago Chapter, too.

The Big Cities Health Coalition represents health departments in 28 large American cities; however, it’s actually a project of the 2,800-member National Association of County and City Health Organizations (NACCHO), making it a two-for-one listing.The Ohio Public Health Association is just flat-out listed twice, abandoning subterfuge entirely.

According to its website, the Local Public Health Association of Minnesota works “in tandem” with the Minnesota Public Health Association. In fact, mulitple state public health associations are listed, many—if not all—of whom are members of NACCHO as well as the American Public Health Association (APHA), which—you guessed it—is also on the list. Mark those three-for-one.

The Ohio Public Health Association is just flat-out listed twice, abandoning subterfuge entirely.

Update: The San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility is also on the list. That’s nine PSR chapters, for those of you scoring at home.

If this were an election, this kind of math would send some ward boss to the big house.

Some of those on the list don’t even sound like medical groups. Hello, Association of Population Centers? Population Association of America? You guys were looking for the seminar on birth control, maybe?

Association of Public and Land Grant Universities, what are you doing in here? Likewise your buddy there, the Congregation Gates of Heaven: You’re a synagogue in Schenectady!

Some are groups without any credible connection to medicine. Cure Violence’s medical credentials consist of claiming violence is an infectious disease. Your license to practice medicine is revoked—and that goes for you too, Futures Without Violence.

There doesn’t seem to be a doctor in sight in the Law and Society Association. If the Safe States Alliance has any docs, they hide them well in their initiatives against bullying and drowning. The Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE) is a suicide hotline which, while worthwhile, no one would list as a “medical group.” I wasted five whole minutes searching the entire staff listing of the Prevention Institute without finding a single M.D. or nurse.

And who let the National Violence Prevention Network in? You’re housed in the CDC, for crying out loud. Get the hell outta here!

And who let the National Violence Prevention Network in? You’re housed in the CDC, for crying out loud. Get the hell outta here!

Some on the list are merely advocacy groups for the medical community. Physicians for a National Health Program’s sole mission is to advocate for a single-payer health care system. Research!America (sounds like the opening act for Up With People!), is a lobbyist group that actually advocates for increased CDC funding.

The American Medical Student Association’s website sounds like Valerie Jarret on MSNBC: “… access to high-quality health care is a right and not a privilege … At AMSA, activism is a way of life.”

These groups stretch the definition of a “medical group”; would you let a lobbyist remove your appendix?

Do some of these medical groups wonder how they got here?

I scoured the Kansas Public Health Association’s advocacy tab and found policy statements on tobacco, child nutrition, school recess, immunization, water fluoridation … but not guns. The Houston Health Department advises on unpasteurized milk, but not guns. The websites for the public health associations of Iowa, Montana and New Mexico make no mention of guns.

However, you can find links to information from NACCHO and the APHA (see above).

At least two of these “medical groups” are labor unions. Doctors Council SEIU and the Committee of Interns and Residents SEIU are both part of the Service Employees International Union. Their websites discuss collective bargaining, fighting pay cuts and facility closures … not guns.

Some of the groups seem to be just … lost. They’re the gun-control equivalent of Oscar night seat-fillers, whose only purpose is to make the room appear full:

The Student National Medical Association’s director was a consultant who was promoted in 2013 “when the organization was experiencing considerable uncertainty.” She acknowledges “inherent challenges … such as high turnover and limited resources.” Translation: We have our hands full keeping our D.C. office open.

The Academic Consortium for Integrative Medicine & Health just changed its name from The Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine, so you can be forgiven if you didn’t recognize them. They proudly state they’ve been supported by “… The Bravewell Collaborative for over a decade,” yet Bravewell closed its doors in June of 2015.

The Colorado Public Health Association (CPHA) “aspires to be the Voice of Public Health in Colorado.” However, CPHA “is currently developing a new Vision & Mission,” and is so desperate for members, they call for “any individual, agency, non-profit organization, company or others” to join them. Is there a doctor in this house?

Of course, some bona fide medical groups are signatories. But that doesn’t mean they represent doctors.

I asked my doctor about the American Medical Association once, and why doctors were so virulently anti-gun. “They don’t really represent doctors,” he told me. “It’s worthwhile because they disseminate some valuable material, but it’s run by east-coast liberal types who nominate like-minded doctors for the committees and leadership posts. If you’re not one of the club, you don’t get in.”

What would happen if you sought one of those posts, I asked? “I could apply, but I wouldn’t get it,” he said. Then he asked if he was going to see me at our indoor range that weekend.

Postscript: Near the bottom of the list, I found Texas Doctors for Social Responsibility. That’s 10.


Warren Zeiders
Warren Zeiders

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