America's First Freedom - December 2014 - 76

P A R T I N G

S H O T
by

Vik Khanna

Why Public Health Needs
A New Gun Doctrine

I

am a public health professional, educated at the vaunted Johns Hopkins University
Bloomberg School of Hygiene and Public Health. I like guns, and I believe the
Second Amendment clearly secures the rights of individuals to own firearms.
You read that correctly. I am a public health professional.
And I like guns.
This makes me a heretic in American public health, where embracing firearms and
the rights of gun owners is a gross violation of orthodoxy.
As a society, our focus on guns and not gun users derives from the shock of mass
killings, such as those in Newtown, Conn., Aurora, Colo., Virginia Tech and Norway,
which has some of the strictest gun control laws on the planet. Mass killings, however
tragic, get distorted by saturation-media hysterics and 24-hour political grandstanding.
What gun opponents refuse to discuss is the precipitous fall in violent crime and deaths
by firearms over the past 20 years, and how it coincides with an equally dramatic
increase of guns in circulation in the United States.

You read that correctly. I am a public health
professional. And I like guns.
While that isn't cause and effect, the association is certainly curious.
In 2013, the Institute of Medicine, at the behest of the Centers for Disease Control,
produced a report on firearm violence that has been ignored by the mainstream media.
The upshot: Defensive use of firearms occurs much more frequently than is recognized,
"can be an important crime deterrent" and unauthorized possession (read: by someone
other than the lawful owner) of a firearm is a crucial driver of firearm violence.
That report went away for political reasons. Translation: Nobody wanted to talk
about it because it raised more questions than it answered.
The tragic mass murders in Virginia, Colorado, Norway, Connecticut and most
recently California, showcase the failure of the healthcare system, including potential
abuse of prescription drugs, and families where parents either checked out or were
willfully oblivious to what their children were doing. They are also outcomes of
popular, feel-good movements, such as deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill,
colliding with communities that had no means to deal with the consequences.
Adam Lanza, Anders Breivik, Seung-Hui Cho, James Holmes and Elliot Rodger
needed treatment and, if necessary, involuntary commitment, with due process for
both admission to a facility and subsequent release.
My public health approach to the problem of gun violence starts with the
assumption that every gun owner is not a raving, irresponsible nut, but in fact
a person of some seriousness who has a legal right to choose to own a firearm.
My next assumption is that the most egregious gun violence happens in
communities that are broken, such as inner city Baltimore and St. Louis.
Again, a topic that is not to be discussed.
Gun control will not fix schools, restore neighborhoods, stabilize disintegrating
(wealthy or poor) families, employ people, heal mental illness, rejuvenate local

Vik Khanna is The Health Care
Blog's Editor-At-Large
for Wellness.
economies or help create self-respect.
I support gun courts and mandatory,
no-parole sentencing for people who
commit gun crimes, with a massive
public education campaign to back it up.
Public education works and is central
to many public health issues, from
highway safety to tobacco use reduction.
But for some reason, when it comes to
guns, the public health establishment's
histrionic reflex is not to educate but to
control and confiscate. According to the
fbi, in 2012 there were 8,855 firearm
homicides, down 7 percent since 2008.
By contrast, 33,516 people died on the
nation's highways in 2012, and alcohol
abuse claimed 88,000 lives.
Where's the clamor to control and
confiscate cars, cellphones (deadly when
used while driving) and booze?
Gun owners should not get their
hopes up that the public health
community will ever take them seriously.
Public health students are taught early
on that guns are evil, that the people
who think otherwise are an ignorant,
backward, Jerry Springer-watching lot,
and that there are some questions you
don't ask-at least not if you want to pass
the class.
This says more about the public health
community than it does anything else.
As for the claim that gun rights
proponents oppose the conduct of
legitimate research, consider this.
Many years ago, I asked a very powerful
anti-gun academic the following
questions: What proportion of gun
crimes are committed by the lawful
owner of a legally purchased firearm, and
what percentage of lawful gun owners
use their firearm in commission of a
crime? He said that he did not know,
and that he would oppose conduct of
the research to answer both questions.
The answer was no surprise,
and neither should my rejoinder be:
molon labe.

America's 1st Freedom (ISSN 1530-8448) Volume 15, No. 12, is published monthly by the National Rifle Association of America, 11250 Waples Mill Road, Fairfax, VA
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December 2014



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of America's First Freedom - December 2014

America's First Freedom - December 2014 - 1
America's First Freedom - December 2014 - 2
America's First Freedom - December 2014 - 3
America's First Freedom - December 2014 - 4
America's First Freedom - December 2014 - 5
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