I'll take this one, guys.
I just finished reading an article by a physician who is against guns. As a non-physician medical practitioner in my own right and a second amendment authority in one, I am a colleague who can criticize.
I have responded before to doctors who oppose gun violence, but their editorials and pleadings to reduce gun violence wind up killing the patient, that is, the disarmed community. Gun control for a community is the equivalent of operating on the patient and not noticing that he is not breathing. When the patient goes apneic and then into cardiac arrest, the surgery may be a success, but the patient dies.
Let me show you. The patient – the disarmed community – dies from neglect. The movement to discourage private ownership and carry of guns forgets their overwhelming value as an asset. For physicians and nurses, it would be like ignoring the primary purpose of a patient checklist.
The author is George Lundberg, M.D., and his article is Guns and why doctors should partner with the National Rifle Association. The NRA is the nation's first and oldest civil rights group. It predates the NAACP and other famous organizations. Although many blame the NRA for being the ‘gun lobby', there are actually 90 million gun owners who know one thing rather well: they have not only the right to carry a handgun, but they have the legal authority to stop a violent crime in progress. This legal authority is supported by various doctrines, laws and custom in the U.S., not the least of which is the second amendment, the tenth amendment, and a variety of public policy and public interests. "If you have a better idea," the doctor writes, "especially you gun-totin’ docs, let us hear it."
Dr. Lundberg's article concentrates on restricting individual access to the lawful purchase of handguns. This is counterintuitive, since it is not a matter of gunman and gun getting together; it is a matter of how they are stopped when they choose to act violently. It is this latter concept that gun control neutralizes and it permits criminal acts to be completed unanswered. By the millions, about five millions.
This brings me to the more meaningful understanding in what doctors and Emergency Department staff see and do not see, and since I have written about this before, I'll be brief. For every gunshot wound the E.D. sees, there are about 172 they will not see. This is a fairly loose arithmetic, but it makes the point that for all the GSW's seen by the E.D., there are 2.5 million they will never see, because criminal acts are foiled by the target of the violence.
Why the patient dies – that is, how disarmament kills a community – is in destroying, by the force of the State, the personal independence which protects a community.
The article then becomes outright hostile and vicious: "Psychiatrists, what motivates so many Americans, in contrast to the people of most other developed countries, to own and use guns?"
Americans are not motivated to be armed by some psychopathology, we are motivated by the basic human instinct to survive, and we apply knowledge of the law and due process. In other ‘developed countries', they did not elect not to own guns, their guns were confiscated by force of the State. These people are not enlightened, nor are they safe: they are murdered en masse after they are forcibly disarmed, the brutality of the region reported as 'civil war' or 'regional dispute'. In violent crime in the U.S., I doubt one would agree that a rape or an abduction is a simple 'dispute'.
Think of the armed citizen as a person trained in CPR. The Paramedics cannot be everywhere, much less have a response time of less than four minutes to save the cardiac arrest patient. This also includes the near drowning patient, the electrical shock patient, the asthma patient, the anaphylactic patient, the trauma patient and, of course, the choking patient. You can see how a lack of independence in the citizenry materially contributes to the patient being denied care politically. What gun control does is interfere politically with a protection of the patient...er, community, I mean. Blaming guns is the equivalent of punishing lay knowledge and intervention when first responders will never make it in time.
The success in persuading doctors and lawyers to get behind the movement of training citizens in CPR in the late seventies was in showing them the lay perspective when all the doctors could vizualize was the in-house, clinical perspective of their crash cart thirty paces down the hall. This perspective was inadequate for the new movement of community safety. The purpose of the armed citizen (and Citizen CPR as well) is that there is no policeman thirty paces away in time of emergency.
In the United States – unlike some other countries – individuals do not need permission to act in self-defense, nor do we need to wait for assets.
Medically, it is not only tradition, but established medical practice to educate the layman in professional knowledge. It is ancient and it is smart to aid the patient in self-care and scientific understanding to the extent possible. Diabetics medicate themselves, for instance, and they understand their disease. Women and men are taught to examine and monitor themselves, and to be alert to signs and symptoms. There is a host of examples where the patient is not excluded, but included in their own care. It is essential.
So it is with a community's self-care and knowledge. The citizen cannot rationally (nor legally) be excluded by the State from understanding their own dilemma and being educated – and free – to choose the right solutions to those dilemmas. When it comes to violence, a community is safer when it refuses to be a victim and summons the law itself – not police, but the law – where that law is that individuals may act in self-protection in the absence of police. I don't know if doctors know this or not, but police often refer to ‘Good Samaritans' in time of crime as the original first responders. 90 million gun owners know it. Thus, armed citizens are not playing Cop any more than a Good Samaritan is playing Paramedic.
Doctors against violence need to know what doctors for liberty know: that police believe the citizen target of violence to be the first line of defense. People against guns need to understand what doctors for liberty understand: that any citizen has the legal authority to stop a crime in progress and to come to the aid of another. [We are seeing an awful lot of this spirit lately: it comes not only from a spirit of independence when there is no one else, but a knowledge of one's authority to act. It is wrong to hide and discourage awareness of this authority.]
Gun control is not the place to concentrate this edification, for gun control understands well the value of the armed citizen in little need for dependency policies; the electorate must be educated in order to abolish gun control as an interference with community interests.
One of the missions of modern Health Equity is public education and access. No one in this country goes without medical care; there is access. But plenty of people go without knowledge of their position and awareness of their solutions. Being armed with both knowledge and lethal force is one of those choices in fighting violence where it is fought best: at the scene of the crime.
Crime in America is not due to easy access of guns, it is due to the criminal's easy access to society. The violence doctors see in their emergency duty should not be viewed as an etiology of guns, guns, guns, but as a totality of violence of beatings, rapes, kidnapings, knifings, and more, all unanswered for a lack of sufficient resistance. And, for some, a likely obfuscation of their authority.
It is independence that breathes life into the community, independence to act in refusing to be a victim and an awareness of their own legal authority to act.
Many medical professionals write against 'gun violence', as if they simply cannot stomach what they see day after day. Well, 90 million gun owners have news for you: we can't stomach it either. This is why we are armed. 2.5 million times every year, some citizen successfully stops a crime with their lethal force brought to bear on a violent act. This keeps 5 million acts of violence from becoming 7.5 million crimes of violence.
Does this help?
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