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When Is A Physician’s Advice Hazardous To Your Health?

When Is A Physician’s Advice Hazardous To Your Health?

While America’s anti-gun groups are busily trying to once again rebrand their movement as something other than anti-gun, their supporters continue to step on their messaging. Days after Americans for Responsible Solutions released a strategy guide on talking about gun control that advocated avoiding talk of any semi-auto bans, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey decided the state’s “assault weapons law” actually covers most semi-automatic firearms and that tens of thousands of Massachusetts gun owners illegally purchased and sold these firearms for more than a decade.

Americans for Responsible Solutions tells supporters not to mention the NRA because of its popularity, but to target “the gun lobby” instead, even as “The View’s” Joy Behar and Sunny Hostin compare the NRA to ISIS. And now, as gun-control advocates invest their time and energy trying to appear “reasonable,” another supporter has decided to call for something very unreasonable—making gun ownership as difficult a process as becoming a doctor. 

That’s the argument put forth by California doctor Monya De, who says “it should be hard” for people to legally own a gun in this country, with hours of community service required, letters of recommendations from churches and employers, and more. To do less, De argues, is like giving everyone in America their own prescription pad.… one of the biggest killers when it comes to medical mistakes is a simple lack of hand washing among doctors and nurses.

There are a lot of problems with De’s argument, starting with the fact that medical mistakes are the third-leading cause of deaths in the United States, according to a Johns Hopkins study released earlier this year that found that 250,000 Americans die every year because of medical errors. That’s more than 20 times the number of gun-related homicides and accidents. Actually, since De was writing specifically about owning semi-automatic rifles, maybe the more accurate comparison would be the 250,000 Americans killed from medical mistakes vs. the 250 homicides committed with a long gun (of any type). 

And all this training that De writes about? According to studies, one of the biggest killers when it comes to medical mistakes is a simple lack of hand washing among doctors and nurses. If De really wanted to save lives, educating her fellow doctors about good hygiene would be a much better place to start than trying to turn a right of the people into a privilege of the few.  

Speaking of hearts, De’s heart may be in the right place, but she’s offering the wrong solution to preventing violent crime and saving lives.Another problem with De’s argument is that she’s pushing to make it extraordinarily difficult for people to legally own firearms, while ignoring the fact that the vast majority of violent crime in this country is committed by individuals who don’t legally own the firearm they use—and in many cases can’t legally own firearms. Would De suggest that the best way to combat the skyrocketing use and sale of heroin is to make it even more difficult to legally practice medicine or to cut down dramatically on the number of doctors? Or would she tell a patient that in order to treat a stomach ulcer, she’s going to perform a heart transplant on him? 

Speaking of hearts, De’s heart may be in the right place, but she’s offering the wrong solution for preventing violent crime and saving lives. We can’t accomplish that by making it virtually impossible to become a legal gun owner. Instead, we should do everything we can to make it easier for those who want to exercise their right to keep and bear arms to do so legally, lawfully and responsibly. We need more ranges and gun stores that offer classes in cities with soaring violent crime rates like Chicago, Baltimore and the District of Columbia. At the same time, we need to focus the efforts of the criminal justice system on the relatively small number of career violent criminals who are disproportionately responsible for the chaos and tragedies in their neighborhoods. It may not be as emotionally appealing to the good doctor as targeting legal gun ownership, but it does have the benefit of actually being effective. 

Physician, educate thyself … and don’t forget to wash up before your next patient.