As the COVID-19 pandemic wanes, the Biden administration’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) wants to inject itself into your personal firearms collection. Last September, the head of the CDC said it is “now hoping to get a fuller picture of the data and long-neglected details on the impact of daily gun violence.”
The CDC and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced funding for “new research on guns to help reduce firearm-related injuries, deaths, crime and suicides” in addition to its “several other gun-research projects” underway. This operation—the latest in a long pattern—now seeks to use U.S. taxpayer dollars to bolster at least 10 state health departments so they can gather data in “near real-time” on emergency-room non-deadly firearm injuries.
As per the health body’s justification, the information gathered will thus enable medical professionals and epidemiologists to potentially “diagnose” trends to formulate fast-acting interventions, “as they have done to contain the coronavirus pandemic and other national health emergencies.”
While it’s doubtful medical “science” can do anything of benefit to intervene regarding incidents involving firearms before they take place, this latest encroachment will undoubtedly waste the medical profession’s resources and present yet another threat to your Second Amendment freedoms—all with the help of your hard-earned dollars.
“It is violating and just wrong, an invasion of privacy,” said Dr. Robert B. Young, editor of Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership (DRGO.us), a long-running, California-based national coalition of medical professionals who support Second Amendment rights. “Gun ownership is no business of the CDC.” DRGO, which represents more than one thousand health-care professionals across the U.S. and was founded in 1994 in response to a public-health initiative against gun rights, has long contended that physicians should not wade into public-policy matters, such as firearms ownership. Notably, the outfit argues that tying gun issues to public health distorts the actual causes of criminal violence.
But why would gun-control zealots want to rebrand criminal violence in the U.S. from a crime issue to a “public-health epidemic” in the first place? Because the twisted terminology means more money and government figureheads can be thrown into gun-control campaigns, all while demonizing law-abiding gun owners as somehow being a broader societal threat.
Ever since the Biden-Harris administration came to power, the anti-gun duo has turned to the public-health sector to address the “disease” of firearms. In April, the White House declared “six initial actions to address the gun violence public-health epidemic.” Rather than being viewed as a constitutional right and a great equalizer that enables people of all genders, races and ethnicities to protect themselves and those around them, Biden and Harris vowed that they will not wait for “Congress to act to take its own steps,” stressing that criminal violence “disproportionately impacts black and brown Americans.”
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has subsequently been tasked with organizing a webinar and toolkit to “educate states on how they can use Medicaid to reimburse certain community violence intervention programs.”
From Young’s perspective, the public-health approach to combating criminal violence and associated firearms-related matters is merely a camouflaged political movement. Politics has no place in the healthcare arena, he says. He also says that medical groups tend to inflate the statistics surrounding gun injuries and fatalities—the very topic that the CDC has pledged to investigate and report.
“The CDC has shown disrespect for gun rights and enmity for gun ownership beginning in the late 1980s,” said Young. “The average physician doesn’t understand guns or gun safety, and none of us want to be pulled into political conflicts with patients.”
Indeed, multiple medical professionals who spoke on the condition of anonymity, out of concern for reprisal, said that bringing politics into this violates patient-physician relationships.
“Bias for and against guns exists in medicine, and it varies by specialty. Pediatric governing bodies are especially anti-gun,” said Dr. Matt Tipton, a Tennessee-based emergency room physician. “All of academia leans left, so most of the boards are anti-gun.”
In recent years, as gun questions have crept into medical appointments, DRGO established 2Adoc.com, a website that links patients to providers who will not flog them with gun-control activism.
“Any provider who respects the Second Amendment and privacy rights can sign up; you just need to have decision-making authority for the practice being added to our directory,” the website states. “A provider asking patients general questions about guns is an ethical boundary violation. Only in exceptional cases, where it’s clinically called for, should a healthcare provider inquire about guns. This does not prohibit casual discussion between two gun enthusiasts.”
And history tells us that this is an issue that can’t be pushed to the side.
In 2010, a Florida woman and her daughter were terminated from their pediatrician’s practice, after the mother, citing her right to privacy, declined to respond to questions about gun ownership in their home. After state officials documented several similar cases, the Florida Firearms Owners Privacy Act (the “Privacy Act”) was passed into law. The legislation effectively prohibits physicians in the state from questioning patients about firearms ownership and prohibiting them from denying medical care to patients should they refuse to answer such invasive questions. Nonetheless, the law—signed by Gov. Rick Scott (R)—came with the reasonable caveat of allowing questions if there is a genuine cause to be concerned over a patient’s safety or the safety of others.
But such rationality was not enough for some in the legal and medical communities; a five-year legal tussle ensued. Finally, in 2012, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida issued a permanent injunction against the Privacy Act claiming that it “unduly burdened physicians’ right to free speech.” Gov. Scott responded with an appeal, sending the Wollschlaeger v. Governor of Florida (known broadly as the “Docs vs. Glocks”) case, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.
Two years later, the circuit reversed the injunction on the basis that “the practice of good medicine does not require interrogation about irrelevant, private matters.” Then, in the summer of 2015, a majority of Eleventh Circuit judges voted to rehear the case. In February 2017, judges determined that three out of four of the Privacy Act’s provisions—namely the anti-harassment, inquiry and record-keeping provisions—were First Amendment violations. The fourth provision (prohibiting the physician from discriminating against gun-owning patients) was upheld.
“DRGO believes that a patient’s gun ownership is none of their healthcare provider’s business. Only in exceptional cases, where specific clinical circumstances warrant, should a healthcare provider inquire about gun ownership or discuss any aspects of ownership,” the organization states.
Additionally, DRGO stresses that the expansion of public health to include gun policy “diverts us from genuine public-health threats.”
Yet, some medical professionals, and likely a swath of CDC researchers, continue to operate under the assumption that doctors need to know about patients’ lifestyles, including gun ownership, to provide the appropriate level of care.
If you go along with the Biden administration’s CDC on this, shouldn’t doctors also ask about extramarital affairs or whether knives or power tools are kept in the home? With special consideration to children, are doctors obliged to ask about the home’s number of electrical sockets and hot plates or access to swimming pools?
The answer is almost always a resounding no. When it has nothing to do with the reason for seeking care, many Americans worry that physicians will note responses in their permanent records by singling out gun ownership. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) shields a patient’s health information from public view, yet there is always the lingering fear that laws can be amended and databases are always at risk of being breached.
The expansion of public health to include gun policy diverts our resources from genuine public-health threats.
Indeed, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) makes no effort to disguise its political posturing, as it declares in its official documents that it backs “the strongest possible regulations of handguns for civilians use.”
It goes on to advise that parents “NEVER have a gun in the home.” Not surprisingly, the AAP doesn’t espouse that parents NEVER own a car or swimming pool or fireplace. Instead, the group advocates that parents teach safety.
The American College of Physicians also said in a recent policy paper that “firearm violence is not only a criminal-justice issue but also a public-health threat.”
“Gun ownership should not be treated as a public-health issue. Instead, gun safety should be taught,” said Tipton. “I do not ask my patients if they own guns when doing preventive medicine.”
Pro-Second Amendment advocates assert that the medical realm often fails to consider the beneficial aspects of gun ownership, including the ability to defend loved ones until the police arrive, which can be 15 minutes or more in many parts of the country.
In 2013, the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council, sponsored in part by the CDC, reported that “defensive gun uses by victims are at least as common as offensive uses by criminals, with estimates of annual uses ranging from about 500,000 to more than 3 million, in the context of about 300,000 violent crimes involving firearms in 2008.”
To put this in further context, “100 million people were killed in the last century by their own governments after being disarmed,” Tipton said.
Law-abiding citizens also have another reason to be concerned about discussing gun views with their health providers, as a doctor’s politics could negatively impact the doctor-patient relationship. If excessive advocacy interferes in the critical doctor-patient relationship, it risks impacting the level of medical care provided.
“The CDC should stay out of gun ownership,” Tipton said. “I never ask this or chart about it. I think this would violate trust with patients. But, I do talk about gun safety. NRA has very good safety programs for school-aged kids,” he said.
Years ago, left-leaning representatives, with support from the mainstream media, started to slip health terminology into gun-rights battles. For one, The New York Times ran a front-page editorial in late 2015 entitled “End the Gun Epidemic in America,” a title that implies firearm violations are somehow a contagion spread from the lawful to the unlawful. Epidemics, of course, are generated by transmissions between infected people, making it a strange analogy. The article was written in response to the San Bernardino, Calif., terrorist attack. This tragic assault was carried out by a couple pledged to then-ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and they used illegally acquired firearms to murder people. In what sense does such a crime fall under the clinical definition of an “epidemic?” Mislabeling the criminal misuse of firearms as a contagious disease or health crisis doesn’t address the underlying causes of a terrorist or criminal act.
Nevertheless, the Biden administration has used, and will continue to use, a misleading public-health narrative to pursue its gun-control agenda. In 2019, Politico reported, “Surgeons and other health workers with experience treating firearm wounds lobbied hard for the universal background-check bill, adding a sober, public-health perspective to a debate long stuck in a partisan stalemate. Some physicians are pursuing a parallel goal of passing a bill that would require the surgeon general to study guns’ impact on public health and issue a report to Congress on the findings. Democrats think the involvement of doctors will make it harder to defend the status quo—especially as their advocacy goes viral on Twitter threads and portrays gun violence as a public-health crisis.”
Meanwhile, “more than 160 medical, public-health and research groups signed on to a letter from the American Academy of Pediatrics to congressional appropriators urging they spend $50 million on gun-violence research in the fiscal year 2020.”
Obscuring the lines between public policy and public health runs an increasing risk of disregarding an American citizen’s Second Amendment rights.