An interesting survey of surgeons revealed they, as a group, don’t agree with President Joe Biden’s (D) attempt to frame the illegal actions of violent criminals as a “public-health crisis.”
Indeed, a substantial percentage of surgeons acknowledged they do own one or more firearms and a solid majority said they believe gun ownership is a constitutional right, according to a recent survey by the American College of Surgeons (ACS).
The data was released last month. It showed that, of 11,147 surgeons who responded, more than 83% had fired a gun, nearly 63% had received firearms training and nearly half of respondents (42%, or 4,653 surgeons) said that they keep at least one gun at home.
Among those surgeons who own guns, 82% reported possessing long guns, handguns or both and one in three owned what the survey called “high-capacity, magazine-fed, semi-automatic rifles.” Also, 19% had taken a concealed-carry course.
The majority (75%) said the primary motive was self-defense or protection, followed by target shooting (73%) and hunting (52.3%).
One third of surgeons reported storing their firearms loaded and accessible—three times the national average, and a bit of a black eye for an organization that recommends that guns be stored locked, unloaded and separate from ammunition.
The study claims it’s the largest survey of physicians on the subject; a smaller survey of surgeons and internists in 2000 found that almost one-third owned firearms; surveys of pediatricians have found about 16% ownership; and a 2014 sample of physicians reported 21% owned guns. Meanwhile, MD Magazine estimated more than half of physicians own guns.
When asked whether firearm ownership is beneficial or not, surgeons were evenly split, with 22.8% saying it is beneficial, 21.6% saying it is harmful and just under half believing owning guns is both beneficial and harmful. (It does seem especially dubious to suggest to surgeons—who know their scalpels can save or take a life—that inanimate objects are inherently beneficial or harmful.)
The survey also asked if firearms ownership protects personal liberty—41.7% said yes, 8.5% said no and 44.8% said neither.
A promising 73.7% of surgeons agreed that private ownership of guns is a constitutionally protected right. Another 25% disagreed or weren’t sure, suggesting some doctors could benefit from reviewing U.S. Supreme Court rulings on the Second Amendment.
The national data here is also telling. Prior to surges in 2020 (which clearly have a lot to do with the pandemic shutdowns and social unrest) violent crime was on a decades-long decline; this is shown in both the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports and the Department of Justice’s Crime Victimization Survey. Also, accidental gun deaths have been on a persistent decline, and the ACS itself acknowledged that “firearm-injured patients comprise approximately 4.2% of the patients that U.S. trauma centers treat.”
Although recent claims that medical error is the third-leading cause of death may be overblown, reputable estimates still place deaths from physician error far ahead of violent criminals.
In sum, when organizations overstep their expertise or succumb to politicization of the data, you can’t expect the American public to just follow blindly along. (David Burnett is an intensive care nurse, health law attorney, and frequent contributor to America’s First Freedom.)