Doctors Call For Ban On Handguns

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed, without doctor's orders.

A team from Duke University Medical Center said violent crime is on the increase – and handguns are used in as many as half of all shootings. They argued many assaults are committed impulsively, prompted by alcohol and drugs, and an automatic pistol or revolver often makes an all too available weapon.

The research is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The researchers said there was no reason for handguns to be publicly available at all. They consulted police chiefs, and top sportsmen, from around the United States, and found such weapons have little practical value for self-defense and none whatsoever for hunting.

None of the sportsmen felt such guns were essential, since the point of a firearm is to hit a target at a distance with accuracy. Police officials concurred, arguing that short range weapons such as handguns are far more likely to be used in domestic assault than in prevention of crime.

The researchers said a long barreled hunting rifle or shotgun may just as easily ward off criminals in the event that police are unavailable for prompt response, due to its perceived size and greater deterrent effect.

In contrast, a so-called "cop killer" bullet, typically fired from an automatic pistol, pierces the body like "cutting into a ripe melon".

The use of handguns is particularly worrying among adolescents, say the researchers, reporting that 24% of school shootings have been carried out with such weapons, primarily high capacity automatic pistols.

The study found links between easy access to handguns and violent assault are long established.

French laws in the 17th century decreed that muskets of barrel length less than a cubit were prohibited from the realm. A century later, shotguns were introduced in the United Kingdom in an effort to reduce injuries during hunting expeditions. In the United States, so-called "gun control" has a turbulent history due to Constitutional concerns regarding the state of the militia.

The researchers say legislation to ban the sale of handguns would be a key step in the fight against violent crime.

The Department of Justice is actively looking for ways to reduce gun crime.

"We suggest that banning the sale of revolvers and automatic pistols is a sensible and practical measure that would have this effect."

A Justice Department spokesperson said there were already extensive restrictions in place to control the sale and possession of handguns, but that more controls are needed. "In most states and on Federal land the law already prohibits the possession of offensive weapons in a public place, and the possession of guns in public without good reason or lawful authority, with the exception of those carried for a legitimate law enforcement purpose," said Craig Talbot of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.

"Offensive weapons are defined as any weapon designed or adapted to cause injury, or intended by the person possessing them to do so. An individual has to demonstrate that he had good reason to possess a gun, for example for hunting, other sporting purposes or as part of his profession (e.g. a police officer) in a public place."

"The manufacture, sale and importation of 17 high capacity and automatic pistols and other offensive weapons have been banned, in addition to automatic rifles and machine guns without a Federal permit."

A spokesperson for the National Association of District Attorneys said: "NADA supports any move to reduce the number of gun crimes, however, it is important to consider the practicalities of enforcing such changes."

Troubling on a number of levels. We've all heard of doctors playing God, but doctors playing Founding Father? What will they think of next?

Last 5 posts by Patrick Non-White


  1. Gretchen says

    Being a doctor does not make you a bioethicist, much less an expert on guns, much less a legislator. Do these people even know what an "automatic pistol" is?

  2. pedr says

    I'm not sure what point this is meant to make. What is your concern about a British article about a British suggestion that – there being no limitation on the British legislature's power to control the sale of weapons – it may be a good idea to prevent the sale of items which have design features which make them significantly more dangerous when used as weapons while not being necessary in normal use-cases?

    This wasn't a suggestion that said "we know pointed knives are really useful for various cooking tasks, but if they were banned people could use other less suitable knives". It said that as the point was just as useful on a short knife as a long one, there's no need to have one tool which is both long and pointed, therefore it's worth asking whether the calculation of overall benefit and good to society suggests a ban on long knives with points. As far as I'm aware, this suggestion was not taken up.

    I want legislatures to make decisions based on evidence gathered from a range of experts with experience in various fields. I want them to make decisions which put necessary limits on individual freedom where those have a clear and significant benefit to society. This suggestion seemed to be part of the kind of process, all to rare, which might lead to that kind of outcome, so I don't really understand why it seems so outlandish.

  3. Jardinero1 says

    Doctors kill more people than guns. They should stick to cleaning up the mess in their own profession.

  4. says

    Ah! This takes me back to a "discussion" I had with a Brit back in '00*:

    "And the NSC also attributes 48,000 to 98,000 deaths to doctors' errors: 70 times as great as that of firearms.
    "A high price just to have doctors.
    "Even more interestingly, the CDC estimates that there are 80 million gun owners in the US, yet only around 240,000 doctors; it appears that you are approximately 1400 times more likely to be accidentally killed by a doctor than a gun owner.
    "Let's ban doctors."

    (* Numbers were good then. I just copied this from the file tonight and didn't check current numbers.)

  5. C. S. P. Schofield says


    I can think of several points:

    1) Once the "Oh, why do you vulgar people want to own such awful things" crowd gets going, there is no end to it. If you allow them to ban "assault weapons", they will start to agitate against all auto-loading guns, or guns with large magazines. If you ban those, they will go after pump-action shotguns, or hand guns. If you ban all firearms, they will agitate against scary looking knives, and when THAT ban gets passed they will go to work on kitchen knives. And probably nail guns, power saws, electric drills. There is no end to it.

    2) The world is imperfect, and cannot be made perfect. There will always be something that a brute can grab in a drunken rage that will kill. Furthermore, a drunken brute can kill with a concrete block, but his battered girlfriend really needs something better to defend herself. Like a handgun.

    3) People who expect the State to protect everybody, all the time, tend to have OTHER holes in their heads.

  6. Rob says

    and found such weapons have little practical value for self-defense and none whatsoever for hunting.

    That would be a surprise to the millions of people who own a pistol for both such purposes. A handgun is really the ONLY practical firearm for self defense away from the home, as long guns are simply too bulky and heavy to carry around with you all day. It would also be a surprise to every single cop, who carries one for expressly that purpose.

    As for hunting, revolvers chambered for .357 magnum and other more powerful pistol cartridges are very popular for hunting big game hunting, as are single-shot break open pistols chambered in rifle cartridges such as the Thompson Contender. Pistols of all kinds chambered in .22LR are also very popular for small-game hunting.

  7. C. S. P. Schofield says


    You don't understand; the opinions of people who actually USE something a Crusader is against have no value, unless they happen to agree with the Crusader. Consequently, a bunch of cowards (I would call them the more nuanced "sissies" if that wasn't unfairly associated with Gay men, most of whom seem to have more sense) who are frightened of anything gun-like (or knife like) are sure that they know more about how guns (or knives) are used than the people who use them every day.

    I had an argument with an anti-tobacco Crusader once during which he assured me, with absolute seriousness, that I didn't like the taste of tobacco smoke, I just thought that I did.

    I still don't have a complete grasp of that idiocy, but I hear echoes of it a lot.

  8. Dave says

    Wait, violent crime is 'on the increase' now? Really? Do they not teach statistics at Duke or something? IIRC, FBI crime statistics have violent crime at a near 20 year low.

  9. says

    First off, to those who think it's a Brit report Duke University is in North Carolina.

    Secondly, the "top sportsmen" they consulted are likely from the older shooting sports. Those in the modern action shooting sports are often treated like snowboarders were when they first showed up on the ski slopes. "Oh, that's a bunch of punks and they're ruining our sport!" Indeed the ATF used just such an attitude to ban importation of certain shotguns. "My daddy didn't do it, and none of my friends do it, so it's not a REAL sport!" (That the "sporting purpose test the ATF uses is nowhere in the Constitution never stops them.)

    Splitting shooters along the line of the particular sport then engage in is one of the tricks the Left loves to use. Reassure the bull's eye shooters, the skeet shooters, the deer hunters, that you're not going to take away THEIR gun, just those OTHER nuts over there.

    But if we've learned one thing about the Left, it's that they believe what's theirs is theirs, what's ours is negotiable.

  10. Rob says

    Hmmm…teaches me not to click through the link. Ya got me, Patrick.

    Also, that article is from 2005. Just sayin'. I recognized the picture, as I had read the article before, and checked the date.

  11. wgering says

    A chef friend of mine showed me this article a while back and I laughed out loud at it.

    I particularly like how they never define what a "long" knife is. And I don't know what "top 10" chefs they consulted, but I use my 10" French chef knife almost daily. The only knife I own larger than that is my scimitar, which I use occasionally for breaking down sides and primals.

    Also, I own a lot of knives. Most are intended for cutting food. Some are intended to (if necessary, and only in self-defense) cut people. I would never use a knife for something it's not designed for. As much as I might joke about using my kitchen knives on visiting family and houseguests, I never would. I might chip an edge on their bones.

  12. longcat says

    "In contrast, a so-called 'cop killer' bullet, typically fired from an automatic pistol, pierces the body like "cutting into a ripe melon.'"

    So to avoid the armor piercing nature of teflon-coated bullets (which aren't typically fired from anything), they're advocating using much larger and higher velocity rifle bullets? We'd have a much more productive debate on gun rights if one side wasn't so aggressively ignorant on the topic.

  13. gramps says

    Gosh! I seem to recall Patrick doing something like this a short time back… And my age group gets slammed for "short-term memory" issues.

    Well done, sir.

  14. Rob says

    And my age group gets slammed for "short-term memory" issues.

    In my defense, most of my blood has been shunted away from my brain and towards my digestive system in order to help it cope with all of the food I've been noshing on in the past two days.

  15. bacchys says

    The constant use of "automatic pistol" was quite disconcerting, and eroded any credibility they were trying to claim by citing unnamed police chiefs and experts sportsmen.

  16. wgering says

    @Bear: my main set is 11, but I would never keep them in a block.

    No, the real danger is those terrible assault knives, with folding stocks and pistol foregrips. Although I do love my scoped 7" boning knife with laser sight; it can fillet a salmon at twenty paces.

  17. says

    @wgering: If you tweak the FGAIN pot on the laser, you can fry the salmon at 30 paces. I think that's illegal in the UK, too.

  18. Ancel De Lambert says

    Shit, Patrick, you had me all the way to the first comment. That was scary. I thought the AMA had lost all tact along with their minds.

    I will say to Pedr, eat me. The only justifiable restriction on personal freedom is when an action curtails the personal freedom of another. "Clear and significant benefit to society" is not, should not, and will never be enough. Such things should be undertaken together of our own will by an illuminated and educated society. We should WANT what is best, but it should never be forced upon us.

  19. AlphaCentauri says

    The original article is about legislating the design of things labeled as kitchen knives, not labeled as hunting knives or bayonets. If squaring the shape of the tip of long knives doesn't affect their usefulness in the kitchen and prevents injuries, it's just a matter of making an article safer for consumers without manufacturers who follow the recommendation being at a competitive disadvantage because inexperienced cooks expect big knives to look like scaled up versions of small knives. It's like doctors suggesting legislating that the little gates parents put at the top of stairs should actually be attached firmly enough to keep a child from pushing through them and going down the stairs, since that's what they're labeled for.

  20. Zach says

    The guy who says that gun possession is banned on federal land has obviously never been west of the Rockies. Forest Service and BLM land is some of the best land for shooting and hunting.

  21. says

    > you are approximately 1400 times more likely to be accidentally killed by a doctor than a gun owner. Let's ban doctors.

    Ha! Awesome.

  22. Shane says

    One more thing … Patrick how the hell do you find this stuff. Do you have a built in ignorant meter? Maybe guess that is why you are a lawyer :P

  23. says

    This quote is best (read carefully): "The Department of Justice is actively looking for ways to reduce crime."

    "Reduce crime"? …at Justice? It's a tautology. Yeah, I left out an adjective: "gun crime" or "knife crime", no matter; as soon as there's a qualifier, there's a political agenda.

  24. C. S. P. Schofield says

    "The Department of Justice is actively looking for ways to reduce crime."

    Well, their resignation and suicide would seem the obvious option……

  25. Matt Cole says

    @Bear: I double-checked the numbers. You're not that far off. Here's what I found:

    – Number of gun owners in the US (2012): 100 million. (Firearms Fact Card 2012)
    – Number of deaths due to guns in the US (2010): about 10,000. (UNODC Homicides by Firearms)
    – Yearly ratio of gun deaths to gun owners: 0.0001

    – Number of doctors in the US (2010): about 691,000. (US Bureau of Labor Statistics)
    – Number of deaths due to doctor error each year: 44,000-98,000 (Institute of Medicine)
    – Yearly ratio of deaths due to doctor error to doctors: 0.06-0.14

  26. says

    I know a college dropout has no business arguing with a team of physicians from the premiere wannabe-Ivy south of the Mason-Dixon, but when I read "[a] century later, shotguns were introduced in the United Kingdom in an effort to reduce injuries during hunting expeditions," my first response was LOLWUT?

    Stick to your pill-rollin' doc. A sheepskin from med school does not confer any special omniscience nor expertise on matters outside your field. Shut up and suture.

  27. Hasdrubal says

    I was sure it was an article from the 80s, sounded like someone arguing that the Brady Bill didn't go far enough. Then I clicked the link.

    Didn't some British doctors also lobby for an "unstabbable" knife design a couple years back, as well?

  28. En Passant says

    These Brit docs (or Patrick's fictitious Duke U docs) should research aviation safety. The only reasonable conclusion they could reach would be to ban physicians from piloting Beech Bonanzas.

  29. Not so ignorant Brit says

    It’s hard to cite recent figures when the US senate enacted specific legislation to BAR the public health scientists receiving any federal funding to research the topic:. It would serve the NRA and its supporters well to consider this piece in JAMA:
    Silencing the Science on Gun Research

    Given comments in other fora that the GOP appeared to be favouring gun ownership at the expense of science, this viewpoint published in the Journal of the American Medical Association seems to suggest that there is more political capital in supporting the right to arm bears (sic) than in sensible investigation into the reasons behind why the US has more gun related deaths than any other developed nation…

    To quote from the article:

    The answers (to what happened in Newtown) are undoubtedly complex and at this point, only partly known. For gun violence, particularly mass killings such as that in Newtown, to occur, intent and means must converge at a particular time and place. Decades of research have been devoted to understanding the factors that lead some people to commit violence against themselves or others. Substantially less has been done to understand how easy access to firearms mitigates or amplifies both the likelihood and consequences of these acts. […] Injury prevention research can have real and lasting effects. Over the last 20 years, the number of Americans dying in motor vehicle crashes has decreased by 31%. Deaths from fires and drowning have been reduced even more, by 38% and 52%, respectively. This progress was achieved without banning automobiles, swimming pools, or matches. Instead, it came from translating research findings into effective interventions. Given the chance, could researchers achieve similar progress with firearm violence? It will not be possible to find out unless Congress rescinds its moratorium on firearm injury prevention research. Since Congress took this action in 1997, at least 427 000 people have died of gunshot wounds in the United States, including more than 165 000 who were victims of homicide. To put these numbers in context, during the same time period, 4586 Americans lost their lives in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.It saddens me to think that the US far right is so wedded to the right to bear arms that it is willing to sacrifice their country’s young on that altar without understanding if the right to bear arms comes with it an equal measure of responsibility to ensure that everything is done to ensure that the gun is never fired in the first place.

    Others have commented, in other fora, that legislation was enacted to ensure that those suffering injury through motor vehicle injury, through no fault of their own, were provided for through insurance.

    Is now the time to consider that “responsible gun owners”, like car owners, are required to furnish insurance against their weaponry being used “inappropriately” as a potential check on the arsenals that are amassed?

    To borrow from the example of the auto insurance industry, premiums are calculated based on the owner’s previous personal history of auto ownership, any collisions, the owner’s medical history, the owner’s relative risk based on his/her age and occupation, the location of the vehicle overnight, the likelihood of the vehicle to be stolen based on its relative desirability, the engine capacity (bhp), its colour etc…
    Perhaps an insurance tariff for gun ownership could be based on similar factors leading to the potential to have a claim?

    One might suggest that the calibre (stopping power), number of rounds retained on the premises, the number of firearms, the number of rounds per clip etc be used.

    I’m sure that the insurance industry would welcome the opportunity to look at the relationship between these factors and the number of gun related homicides and suicides in drawing up appropriate tarrifs. If for no other reason that to ensure that they were not themselves out of actuarial pocket by not having the appropriate data to draw on.
    No doubt there will be those that would suggest that the responsible registered gun owners would be subject to these requirements but that those without registration would be exempt and that this would be an injustice, and they may well be right in this regard. But how should we compensate those who die at the hands of legally owned guns that are used “inappropriately”?

    How then about making the requirement to fund the outcomes of gun related violence (death, trauma, medical expenses etc.) on the manufacturers?

    Or perhaps make the ammunition prohibitively expensive?

    Anyhoo, these are the ramblings of a tired British physician who has seen more than enough death this year and would like to see less in 2013.

  30. Scott Jacobs says

    Seriously, people…

    It was a post by Patrick… How the fuck do you not automatically assume that it is satire?

    Always click links in his posts. ALWAYS.

  31. Shane says

    @Not so Ignorant Brit

    I am sorry but I am sick of the attitude that we can pass a bunch of laws and the world will somehow be a safer more secure place. This world is not Utopia and more importantly it will NEVER be. A confluence of factors can and will cause people injury and death. This is part of the craziness that we call life. Always the hand wringers look at something after the fact and they formulate a bunch of rules that will never allow that to happen again, and in that way they are right. That exact thing never happens again. But a bunch of other things happen that weren't expected.

    I guess many people in the U.K. have decided that they are going to give up on their responsibility to take care of themselves in any form, and are now going to let everyone else decide how life will be for them. A nice safe life of servitude. You can have it. I don't want it, and all of your retarded arguments won't convince me otherwise. If you like your servitude to the parliament & the hand-wringers and the crooks then you have it. Don't push it on me.

    BTW on the vein of suppressing information why don't I see the news on the shootings that are happening in a country that supposedly has no guns. Also where are the statistics on gun confiscations in the U.K. didn't find those either. Point the finger at yourself and your feckless government.

  32. Not so ignorant Brit says

    OK Scott,
    Yes, I'm aware that Patrick regularly satirises the hot button topics of the day for comic relief and as an Agent Provocateur.

    It was a link to a 7 year old news item about the country in which I happen to reside and used to serve in the capacity as an ER doc around the time that those recommendations in relation to knife crime were proposed. In this regard, my button was duly pressed. Consider me "gotcha'd".

    However, I'm must confess to being somewhat at a loss to understand what Patrick's position on the matter actually is. Unrestricted guns for all, "cold dead hands" and all that or is he actually sending up the NRA with it's advocacy for more good guns and gunmen to stop the "bad guys with guns" with all the attendant death and dismemberment that that might entail.

    The satirical treatment of the BBC article from 2005 doesn't make the 1997 decision to defund the CDC from generating the research into reducing gun related deaths any more understandable or acceptable in a civilised society.

    To Ancel, the article I reference was published in JAMA this month.

    I would never presume to suggest that my opinion, a mere subject of the monarchy your ancestors so gamely overthrew 200+ years ago, would count towards advancing the debate on the rights of gun ownership, given that as a nation we have so clearly abrogated so many personal freedoms in the pursuit of a quieter life, albeit one less likely to result in death from high velocity lead poisoning. :)

    I would be interested to know if any of the Popehat team would consider wading into the constitutional morass and help those of us who struggle with the Second amendment (myself included) understand whether the Tooben article in the New Yorker has it right or wrong, particularly with regard to the reframing of the constitution or if its original intended meaning shone through… in Columbia vs Heller (PDF)

    Gosh that's a lot of words but I'm feeling loquacious after a dram or two, so sue me :)

  33. says

    @Not so ignorant Brit:

    I'm not a member of the Popehat team, but I'll anser your question: The Toobin article has it wrong. RKBA was always an individual right. See The Federalist Papers and The Anti-Federalist Papers for debate among the original people writing and ratifying the US Constitution, both sides of which acknowledged RKBA as an individual right. If Toobin is unaware of those papers, then his editor shouldn't be printing his ignorant opinion on this topic. If he knows, and deliberately ignored them, then he's an anti-freedom hack with an agenda pushed by lying.

    But let's pretend he's honest for a moment, and sincerely unaware of the documented debates on the ratification of the Constitution. Sadly for Toobin that still leaves him out in the cold because we've had several court cases over the years that reiterated the original individual right position. See Cruikshank, Presser, Heller, McDonald, Moore vs. Madigan, just for a few samples.

    Lest Toobin fall back on the "living Constitution" argument (which he disengeuously tries to attribute to the pro-civils rights sides he opposes), I point out that reinterpreting the Constitution to change it to suit modern "sensibilities" is wrong; that the Constitution as written does include a way to change it when the people deem it necessary (Article V), and it isn't through anyone creatively reinterpreting the document at a whim.

    (Aside: I was interested to see that we "overthrew" the monarchy a couple of centuries. While tossed their bloodsucking butts out here, I was under the impression that you poor folk were still saddled with that band of in-breds.)

    Regarding your insurance analogy: You've equated setting vehicle insurance rates by the actual actions of the user with regulating the mechanics of a class of inanimate objects regardless of how they're used. Yes, we saw that that attempted sleight-of-hand. Not even a nice try. Clumsy; very clumsy.

    Regarding the Senate actions to limit federal funding of anti-RKBA research (please get that right; it's important). That limitation was proposed in direct response to a series of extremely unscientific political moves by the CDC to call for a ban on firearms of various types. In actual fact, the CDC (and other federally funded organizations) can research firearms related "health issues", which is why it's possible to pull up firearms death data from the CDC site. The ban was on federally funded politics, not science.

    Regarding comparative UK:US firearms deaths: Another cute attempt to blur issues. Is it somehow worse to be killed with a firearm than to be stabbed, bludgeoned, strangled, beaten, etc. to death? The last numbers I have show the UK has a violent crime rate of 2,034/100K. The US has violent crime rate of 466/100K per the UK's own estimates (so if you don't like the definitions used, take it up with your own people, not Americans). Note that those numbers make peaceable, almost-gun-free UK one of the most violent nations in the EU. If America were in that fine group, our violent crime rate wouldn't even make the top ten worst. No wonder you guys want stab-proof knives; with crimes rates like that, you must be afraid some goon is going to cut off the two or three remaining testicles in the UK.

    When you folks on your side of the pond finally fix your own (far worse) violent crime problems, then you can come over here and tell us how to be more like you. Until then, as you pointed out, we settled the issue of you people trying to run things here well over two centuries ago.

  34. Shane says

    Just to pile on with Bear, if you want to see what gun control does on this side of the pond please look at Mexico. Their gun control laws are similar to the U.K. and I don't see to many people comparing them to the U.K. or the U.S. for that matter.

  35. Ancel De Lambert says

    @Not so ignorant Brit The hell did I say? I think you mean Shane, 'cause I haven't talked to you. I will make a mention of your idea on insurance and tell you it's colossally ill-founded. First, there's no provision in the Constitution giving our citizens the right to transportation. Secondly, requiring people to insure their firearms against their use is quite plainly a restriction on even owning one. There are many people who don't own a car, not because they can't afford the car, but because they can't afford the insurance. Forcing people to perpetually pay to protect themselves is unreasonable, and keeps the lower class, ostensibly those that need to protect themselves most, from doing so. Thirdly, having to insure your weapon would add one more thing to think about, during a moment when you really should be focusing on the task at hand. I really don't want to hear about someone being in the hospital who replies when asked, "yeah, I had a gun, but I was worried about my rates going up, and next thing I know the paramedics were wheeling me off." When required to defend yourself from a physical attack, you shouldn't also have to defend yourself from a governmental and financial attack. You shouldn't be forced to choose between the two.

  36. says

    How 'bout that? Some newer data on the UK, though some of the numbers look the same as my 2009 source.

    UK is violent crime capital of Europe
    "Analysis of figures from the European Commission showed a 77 per cent increase in murders, robberies, assaults and sexual offences in the UK since Labour came to power."

    "A breakdown of the statistics, which were compiled into league tables by the Conservatives, revealed that violent crime in the UK had increased from 652,974 offences in 1998 to more than 1.15 million crimes in 2007."

    "By comparison, America has an estimated rate of 466 violent crimes per 100,000 population. "

    "The figures were sourced from Eurostat, the European Commission's database of statistics."

  37. says

    Oops. I saw the masthead date on that Telegraph piece and missed the dateline. That is apparently the same set of numbers I had from 2009.

  38. Joe Pullen says

    Wow, this is a hideously awful debate on the proper application of cutlery on nearly every level.

  39. Not so ignorant Brit says

    @Bear – genuinely thanks :) – consider me more enlightened on the RKBA issue as to the (in)accuracy of Toobin. If we then proceed on the Second Amendment basis of the individual's right to bear arms, is there any onus (consitutional, legal or moral) placed on gun owners to reduce the likelihood that their weaponry is used in the commission of a crime – as happened in Newtown?

    This is to all correspondents: What, if any, are the levers that can be pulled by the US government to add to existing responsible gun ownership in order to reduce the staggering level of fatalities attributed to guns in the US? Or are these not perceived to be a problem?

    Thankfully the mass killings remain a very low percentage of gun-related death in the US but they do keep happening. Are these events seen to be in the hands of a capricious fate, unforeseeable, ungovernable and therefore unable to be prevented, no matter what is attempted?

    The argument put forward in the JAMA article, that vehicular related fatalities and other causes of traumatic death were reduced by the application of research findings, has gone unanswered by any other correspondent on this thread thus far. I reserve the right to disagree with Bear about the interpretation of the CDC research aims on traumatic death but that is, I trust, still permitted in polite discourse.

    Re car insurance analogy, BOTH the user actions and aspects of the vehicle contribute to actuarial calculations. For example, the engine capacity, any after market modifications to improve performance, vehicle colour, ordinary place of permanent domicile, etc. all affect the premium. – Well they sure do in the UK. Actuarial risk based on this type of categorisation is well established in the vehicle insurance industry and others have suggested that these aspects of inanimate objects (vehicles) would seem to have some corollary with certain aspects of the inanimate objects (weapons) which only take on lethal potential when operated by a person, in whatever capacity.

    Of course vehicular insurance premiums are also related to the historical actions of the user in as much as they have impacted on their own vehicle or that of other road users. A history of speeding fines, previous claims etc.

    It is certainly uncontested that people kill people with all sorts of things, guns do tend to make it a little more effective/efficient though. I think we can probably agree on that.

    I suppose my earlier peon was intended to highlight that it would prove difficult to draw similar inferences about the relative risks of gun ownership (and any contributory factors relating to aspects of the weaponry which might inform any limits on the RKBA) as any meaningful study into prevention of gun-related deaths was effectively ended in 1997. I will concede that my interpretation of the actions of Congress was simplistic but the effect is the same. They were not able to defund the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control but they removed an amount of funding which was equivalent to that of the NCIPC.

    @Bear: Is there, to your reading, anything in the JAMA article that is willfully misleading?

    Perhaps the car insurance analogy is too tired. After all, this is more about public liability.

    General and no doubt inflammatory question: Who had the liability for the kids dying in Newtown? The mother who left her weaponry inappropriately secured and for which she paid the ultimate price?

    Perhaps more learned counsel from that side of the pond could help to further elucidate the point. Additional regulation of gun ownership (not a ban which I'm not advocating either) may have a roll to play.

    @Ansel – I was picking up on your earlier comment:

    Shit, Patrick, you had me all the way to the first comment. That was scary. I thought the AMA had lost all tact along with their minds.

    Apologies that I didn't spell this out. There are current calls for more responsible gun ownership from certain sections of US medical society as published in the medical journal I referred to. (JAMA) There are others to follow below…

    OK, so having further prodded an already raw nerve… is there anything that can be done whilst keeping the RKBA as enshrined in the Second Amendment whilst still ostensibly aiming to reduce gun related fatalities?

    What happened to the right to "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness"?

    Do the proposals put forward in a yet to be published article in the New England Journal of Medicine present any valid arguments to the gun lobby or are these also taboo?

    I will certainly be following the progress on the debate with interest on my side of the pond and thanks to you all for the discourse – it

    @Bear I'll get back to you with the weighted data on trauma deaths and Disability affected life years (DALY) from the IHME Global Burden of Disease 2010 study once I've had a chance to digest it a bit more thoroughly.

  40. says

    @ Not so ignorant Brit: "If we then proceed on the Second Amendment basis of the individual's right to bear arms, is there any onus (consitutional, legal or moral) placed on gun owners to reduce the likelihood that their weaponry is used in the commission of a crime – as happened in Newtown?" (emphasis added-cb)

    Absolutely. Mrs. Lanza should be resurrected, tried, convicted, and executed for the crime of letting her deranged son murder her in her sleep (per several media reports) and steal her secured (again, per media reports) guns, despite her reported attempts to get him mental health care. [/sarc]

    WTF? You seriously hold up Mrs. Lanza's murder as an example of irresponsibility? Are you ins… Stop. Clearly you are insane. Even for a troll.

    And why are you so concerned with the "consitutional [sic], legal or moral" onus on the responsible firearms owners who didn't do it? What of the legal or moral obligation of criminals not to steal and murder?

    Anyway, don't bother to "get back to" me. I won't reply. Your strawman arguments were bad enough. This question — specifically blaming the murder victim for being robbed — tells me everything I need to know about your supposed willingness or ability to conduct rational discourse.

  41. says

    Damned closing tags. That one pissed off too much to proof properly. Patrick et al, if you can close that [strike] in line 1, I'd appreciate it.

  42. Scott Jacobs says

    is there any onus (consitutional, legal or moral) placed on gun owners to reduce the likelihood that their weaponry is used in the commission of a crime – as happened in Newtown?

    No. Not a single fucking ounce of it. If someone steals something from me that I have taken reasonable steps to secure (and quite frankly I consider LOCKING MY DOOR to be all need be done, fuck being required to spend hundreds of extra dollars on safes and shit), then my legal responsibility ends. I am not to blame for the fucking criminal actions of others, period. End of story. To suggest otherwise is to make me responsible for things I have no fucking control over.

    If someone steals your car and runs somebody over, is it your fault? Hell no, not even if you'd left the fucking keys in it.

    At what fucking point do we start holding responsible the people who commit the crime and nobody else???

    I mean, I ASSUME these assholes are moral actors, so why this demand that we shift ANY blame? Am I wrong? Are they mere animals unable to control themselves in any way, shape, or form? Are they no better than Muslims who want to kill you for saying something they don't like about they magic child-fucker?

    is there anything that can be done whilst keeping the RKBA as enshrined in the Second Amendment whilst still ostensibly aiming to reduce gun related fatalities?

    Yeah – allow people to arm themselves, and don't set up large places where people aren't allowed to defend themselves. That usually acts as a pretty good deterrent.

    What happened to the right to "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness"?

    I know this is a little high concept, but that's nowhere in the fucking Constitution. Even if it were, your life is of no value if you depend upon the State for your safety at all times, because the State has neither the ability to keep you safe at all times nor THE DUTY TO DO SO!

    Your safety is YOUR responsibility. You are free to abdicate that responsibility to people who don't know you and don't give a single fuck about you, or you can do for yourself.

    It is obvious which option the British and Australians have chosen, and as a result live in countries with far more violent crime than the United States.

    So it sounds like a really shitty trade, frankly, but it is yours to make, I suppose. However, I would thank you to keep your worthless pie-hole shut when you then decide to talk down on us poor little Americans when we opt to take a more proactive role.

  43. Tom Hunt says

    @Brit: The moral fault for the killings at Newtown is held by one and only one person, and that is the lowlife who pulled the trigger. Should it be determined that others' negligence permitted it to happen–which I personally don't believe–they might be called reckless, but they do not and cannot share in the moral responsibility for murder. To think otherwise is to break all the philosophical underpinnings of a free society.

    Regarding mass shootings–can you quote me the last of those which didn't happen in a zone ordained by the government as "gun free"? Perhaps the most productive course of action is not to attempt to hold back the tide with gun bans but to deprive lowlifes of hunting grounds in which they can be assured that they will be the only ones armed.

  44. max says

    M. Jacobs, be careful the person you are responding to might be from the UK. In the UK if a criminal breaks a window to enter a house and cuts themselves on the broken glass, the householder is responsible for the injuries caused by having such a dangerous thing glass windows (mild exaggeration, the furthest the principal has gone is to apply to criminals who have injured themselves on wire mesh applied over windows but there is no logical distinction between the two.)

  45. Scott Jacobs says

    @Max – I assumed they were from the UK.

    As I said earlier in the threat, "I can't believe we wasted lives saving these pussies from the Germans…"

  46. Scott Jacobs says

    @Tom Hunt – of those where more than 3 people were killed, only one since the 1950's has taken place in a location that was not a gun-free zone.

  47. ecurb says

    @Not so ignorant Brit

    Firstly, I apologize for the rudeness you've been shown. As an expat of your country, let me try to explain a little better.

    In short, there is not much the Federal government has the power to do, at all. I don't believe you're very familiar with American law, but you may be aware that the states regulate car ownership and insurance. Despite the vast increase in federal law in the last few decades, most of it is still handled by the states. Murder, for example, is only a federal crime under certain limited circumstances, such as the murder of a federal official.

    States also have the right to regulate the ownership and use of firearms. For example, Connecticut has a number of laws banning "assault weapons" and "hueg capacity clips". While there is no evidence to suggest these do anything, states have extensive rights to pass such laws, despite the 14th amendment limiting their power to ban weapons in common use (per McDonald v. Chicago).

    The research for which congress removed federal funding was a deliberate and coordinated propaganda push by American anti-gun organizations, who were attempting to capitalize on the success of anti-smoking groups by framing the debate as a "public health issue".
    Phrases like "the icy hands of the firearm lobby may be losing their grip on the political process" have no place in medical research, and I want none of my tax money funding the speech of crusaders.
    The "research" they were performing for anti-gun groups was of such poor quality that it was used as an example of bad-faith statistics abuse in my freshman year statistics class, and this was at a very liberal liberal arts school.

    Futher, I-… Oh, forget it, I can't do this. Look, Brit, I left England for good because of the kind of place it was turning into. My state has a murder rate lower than yours, despite the fact that I can carry a concealed handgun and own as many assault rifles as I want.
    That means I can
    trust my neighbors, which is more than I could do in the hellhole I left, thanks to house next door being turned into council housing, and used by its inhabitants as a stolen goods warehouse. (After I moved out, they broke into my old attic, tapped into the electrics behind the meter, and grew a massive crop of pot, which finally got them caught.)
    So please, just stop. Stop trying to turn the country I fled to into the one I fled from. I like it here, and wouldn't choose to live anywhere else. You don't understand America, just like I didn't before I spent some time here.
    If you'd like to come give it a try, you're welcome to visit. Just quit the preaching while you're here, and people will be very polite.

  48. ecurb says

    Ugh, lack of comment previews. Imagine there's an end italics after "very liberal", and another opening one before "trust". I always miss that bloody slash.

  49. Chris R. says

    @Not so ignorant Brit, doesn't the UK have like a 5-10 time higher violent crime rate than the US? Yes fewer people are killed by other human beings, but the UK seems to have a real problem with it's population being terrorized without relief.

  50. rxc says

    Medicalisation of undesired behavior is a common technique used by progressives to inject their values into a society. One might go so far as to say that they use it to "vaccinate" the society against "perceived pathogens". And occasionally they have to apply "booster shots" by hospitalizing victims of bad-think in correctional institutions. Just to make sure that they don't hurt themselves, of course.

  51. This Guy says

    We get mad about our guns.

    I would argue that a (fellow) gun owner has a moral responsibility to make sure bad things do not happen with his or her guns. I believe that this responsibility ends with typical protections against theft or accidental discharge, though.

  52. Scott Jacobs says

    In short, there is not much the Federal government has the power to do, at all

    I wish I could still believed that lie… We all know that isn't actually the case any more…

  53. Shane says

    @Not so ignorant Brit
    I want to say one more thing about mass shooting because they seem to become the symbol of gun use in the U.S. Please watch this video. There is one huge reason that the carnage caused by mass shooters is so significant. And if you are doctor you will understand this completely. The video shows the difference's between the handgun calibers and there lethality from a medical perspective. The important fact from this video is that you are shot you have a 6 in 7 chance of …. wait for it … wait for it … LIVING. You only have a 1 in 6 chance of being killed by a gun shot if you receive proper treatment promptly. The greatest problem with mass shootings is that the officers responding to the call must first clear the scene i.e. sweep, kill shooter, ensure shooter is dead. During this time the wounded will NOT receive the medical attention they need. Guess what, the wounded then bleed out and die. The shooter has only really wounded a large majority of the people he has shot, the wait kills.

  54. Shane says

    If you a really concerned about how to drop the lethality in those situations you can get a way better bang for the buck in trying to correct that situation.

  55. Terry says

    I am interested to know that Police Chiefs do not consider handguns valuable for self defense. Why do cops carry them then. To shoot citizens? Moreover, according to the CDC in 2010, almost as many people die from drunk drivers as die from firearms (all causes including accident and suicide). Maybe we should ban alcohol. Oh wait…

  56. Scott Jacobs says

    Shame, most people calling for "something to be done" don't care about the body counts – they just want to take the guns so that we will be as helpless as they are, because the bigger the herd, the less risk to each individual member. It also makes us more dependent upon the State for our safety, which makes us more willing to let the State do as it pleases, regardless of our rights, because we need the State to keep protecting us.

  57. AlphaCentauri says

    @Matt Cole — that oft cited figure of – 44,000-98,000 deaths due to medical errors includes errors committed by patients, such as not taking their medications properly. It's preventable errors related to patient care, not just "doctor errors."

  58. AnotherGuyOnTheWeb says

    Interesting, but it seems worth noting that…

    A) Knives are somewhat easier to run from than bullets.
    B) Larger guns would genuinely be less concealable, making illegal public possession far more obvious and easier to control.
    C) The original article, old as it may be, makes a valid point – if you can reduce the risks of an object without compromising its intended purpose then there is no good reason not to do so.

    I've managed to stay out of any violent conduct my entire life and I intend to continue. If I were ever to need a gun, the only perceivable situation I can think of would be is someone else was firing a gun at me.

    I seriously doubt anyone here can honestly argue that the UK would be better off if its citizens had access to guns?

  59. says

    @AlphaCentauri: RE: …that oft cited figure of – 44,000-98,000 deaths due to medical errors includes errors committed by patients, such as not taking their medications properly. It's preventable errors related to patient care, not just "doctor errors."

    That might be the case now, but when I pulled the data off the CDC site back in '00 for that discussion I quoted above, the CDC broke out patient self-care errors separately from medical misadventures caused by medical personnel, and was the basis of the "1400 times more likely to be killed by your doctor" quip.

  60. Scott Jacobs says

    I seriously doubt anyone here can honestly argue that the UK would be better off if its citizens had access to guns?

    I can…

    The more law-abiding people that have access to guns is more people who are equally well-armed against people who don't give a fuck about the law.

    Being able to better defend yourself is ALWAYS a good thing. ALWAYS.

    Unless you are one of those fucking pussies from Australia or the UK, where I guess they like being victims.

  61. Kevin says

    Now I haven't been a regular Popehat reader for long…. but I'm starting to suspect that this Patrick guy may not be 100% on the up and up.

  62. Shane says


    You can run from a knife, if it is not being wielded by anyone. There-in lies the whole problem with your argument. Can you run from a screwdriver? How about a nail gun? How about a poison dart? A chain saw? The issue is always with an inanimate tool being blamed for cause some sort of death and destruction.

    In talking to a police officer in Phoenix I was shocked to discover most of the homeless have screwdrivers that have been sharpened to a fine point so that the homeless person can protect their stuff (… Lol …). Are we to now ban screwdrivers? This is the insanity of the tools as weapons argument, and the slipperiest of all of the slopes.

  63. Joe Pullen says

    Now I haven't been a regular Popehat reader for long…. but I'm starting to suspect that this Patrick guy may not be 100% on the up and up.

    You're just now figuring that out? [/sarc :-)]

  64. AnotherGuyOnTheWeb says

    I totally see where you're coming from, but I don't see guns as tools. They are designed primarily to kill, after all.

    I don't know, since guns are already commonplace in america maybe they are important for self-defense (although I would argue that it would be a better situation if they weren't commonplace in the first place, but that wouldn't be particularly easy to control so I guess I can sympathize with people arguing for their use for defense).

    I don't claim that firearms alone can kill people, but they can facilitate killing and make it far less challenging.

    I just think the idea of work being put in to making firearms less fatal to people is something that should be considered. There are usually equally valid ways of incapacitating someone for self defense in most situations where handguns are a viable option, after all.

  65. Shane says

    I just saw in a story about a 63 year old organist on his way to church to play for Christmas mass, that was bludgeoned to death (U.K. not U.S). On Earth this is what CAN happen. Could this have been you? Maybe. If it was you and btw the odds are against it happening, but what if it was you and you were facing two attackers in their 20's with pipes in their hands. What at that moment would you think about guns? That you are glad that your attackers don't have them? That guns are tools that are only used to kill? Nobody wants to personalize the issue of guns, because that would cause them to be truly frightened.

    @AnotherGuyOnTheWeb, if you can, I suggest that you go to the gun range and rent a gun and shoot a gun. If even only one bullet. I don't think that instantly all will come clear, but I do think that it will de-mystify guns, and you will be able to see clearly some of the issues that the pro-gun and the constitutional framers are talking about.

  66. Milhouse says

    If I were ever to need a gun, the only perceivable situation I can think of would be is someone else was firing a gun at me.

    Then you're incapable of thought. What should you do if someone attacks you without a gun? What if they've got a knife, or they're just attacking you with their bare arms? Wouldn't you want to have a gun to defend yourself? Or do you think you're as skilled and as strong as your attacker, and can fight him off without one?

  67. Milhouse says

    The reason Congress put a stop to the CDC's shenanigans in the early '90s is very simple: guns are not a disease. They are not a public health issue. And so the CDC has no legitimate interest in them. They are none of its business. Let them stick to their mandate, which is infectious diseases, that we can catch simply by being in the wrong place.

    As for JAMA, it blotted its escutcheon badly on this issue in the early '90s, when it published those laughably bad "analyses", like the one that compared crime rates in Seattle and Vancouver without adjusting for demographics. Or the one ridiculous one that concluded that people who have guns in the house are likely to end up using them shooting their own family, or some such thing, which was based on such fundamental errors that it's embarrassing. Then again, Lancet blotted its own escutcheon just as badly when it published that infamous Iraq deaths study.

  68. benEzra says

    "A) Knives are somewhat easier to run from than bullets."

    If that is the case, then how is it that knives are responsible for about five times as many murders in the United States as all rifles combined, including so-called "assault weapons", given the fact that far more Americans own "assault weapons" than hunt?

    (See the FBI Uniform Crime Reports 2011, Table 20, Murder by State and type of Weapon, for the breakdown. For another point of reference, twice as many Americans are murdered annually using fists and shoes as using all rifles combined.)

    "B) Larger guns would genuinely be less concealable, making illegal public possession far more obvious and easier to control."

    Probably, but that then leads to the question of why the gun-control lobby has been trying so hard since the 1980s to outlaw modern-looking rifles and to incentivize making pistols more powerful and concealable…

  69. Stef says

    Because tone and body language don't translate through the computer screen I'd like to preface this comment with the assurance that I am wearing my earnest cap. Looks a little like my dunce cap but it's a different shade of orange.

    Could you explain to a non-American what founding fathers have to do with your political stance? In theory all nations have one or two, but in the American political arena they seem to be always close at hand, while in Canada they're dead guys from a couple hundred years ago.

  70. enoriverbend says


    A little late, but since nobody else has answered you:

    "Could you explain to a non-American what founding fathers have to do with your political stance? "

    Well, to be impolitely blunt, ours were wiser and much more influential than yours in world history, not just in US history.

    Thomas Jefferson versus, er, ah, hmm, Hewitt Barnard?
    Sir Alexander Tilloch Galt versus Benjamin Franklin?

    To start writing the list alone answers the question.