Dr. Lee Hieb is an orthopaedic surgeon specializing in spinal surgery. She is past president of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, a free market medical organization.More ↓Less ↑
In recent years, some physicians and physician groups have proposed that “gun violence” be considered a disease – that we should analyze these public mass shootings as we would a disease and, using that paradigm, search for a cure.
Of course their cure is always disarmament of all citizens, not just criminals. But the same docs want more “evidence-based medicine,” and the evidence points to a very different approach.
In the late 18th century, a London physician, Edward Jenner, learned from local dairymen that dairy maids who got cowpox never contracted the more fatal smallpox. He speculated that cowpox somehow prevented smallpox and tested this theory by taking germs from the cowpox lesions and inoculating unexposed persons. These people were shown to survive smallpox outbreaks unscathed and thus was born the science of immunology and the process of controlling the deadly disease of smallpox. This is real science – observation, testing and practice – no politics involved.
If we observe gun violence as a “disease,” one thing is strikingly clear – this disease never strikes people known to be or potentially armed! It may be true that the recent Connecticut shooter was mentally ill, but he was not so crazy as to take on a police station. Neither he, nor any of the other similar shooters, decide to shoot up gun stores or NRA conventioneers. They may be crazy, but apparently not that crazy.
No, they invariably pick gun-free zones for their mayhem. And when confronted with an armed counterforce, they either surrender or shoot themselves. They do not wage gun battles against other armed people.
So, using the logic of Edward Jenner, the inoculation to prevent the disease of gun violence is putting guns into the hands of potential victims. So thinking like Edward Jenner, lets see what happens when we do just that – arm citizens by permitting concealed carrying of firearms.
Dr. Jacob Deakins, in an excellent review of the subject, “Guns, Truth, Medicine and the Constitution,” points out that both the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in 2004 and the Center for Disease Control in 2003 failed to find any written evidence that gun control reduced violent crime, suicides or gun violence.
Dr. Deakins goes on to cite John Lott Jr., who reviewed the FBI’s yearly crime statistics for all 3,054 U.S. counties over 18 years (1977-1994). This constitutes the largest national survey of gun ownership and state police documentation in illegal gun use.
While neither state waiting periods nor the federal Brady Law is associated with a reduction in crime rates, adopting concealed-carry gun laws cut death rates from public multiple shootings by 69 percent.
Allowing people to carry concealed weapons deters violent crime – without any apparent increase in accidental death. If states without right-to-carry laws had adopted them in 1992, about 1,570 murders, 4,177 rapes and 60,000 aggravated assaults would have been avoided annually.
Children 14 to 15 years of age are 14.5 times more likely to die from automobile injuries, five times more likely to die from drowning or fire and burns and three times more likely to die from bicycle accidents than they are to die from gun accidents.
When concealed-carry laws went into effect in a given county, murders fell by 8 percent, rapes by 5 percent and aggravated assaults by 7 percent.
For each additional year concealed-carry laws are in effect, the murder rate declines by 3 percent, robberies by more than 2 percent and rape by 1 percent.
It is generally conceded that immunization of some percentage of a population confers decreased risk of disease on the entire group, not just those immunized – the so-called “herd immunity.” So too, allowing people voluntarily to carry concealed weapons confers some protection on those not carrying – because criminals and crazies never know if the person they confront will be armed.
Recently in New York State, a newspaper published a who’s who of registered gun owners in two counties, giving out names and addresses. Part of the ensuing hue and cry came, not from those listed, but from people not on the list who had just been “outed” as being unarmed. They felt they had been put at risk by this information. So too every no-gun sticker on every hospital or school door puts occupants of the building at risk.
Edward Jenner wasn’t the first person to invent vaccination – he was the first to fine tune it and sell the idea to the masses. More people have died as the result of smallpox than from all the wars combined, but now no one dies thanks to appropriate medical action.
How many unarmed populations will be genocidally murdered, how many shootings will take place in gun-free zones before we get the point, take appropriate action and allow weapons to be carried by those at risk and/or their defenders?