Sex, Drugs, and Public Health

February 27, 2018

N R A vs Public Health (again)

Filed under: Uncategorized — cbmosher @ 11:12 am




There’s a reason that NRA-purchased politicians don’t want CDC to gather data on gun-related deaths. Doesn’t take a genius to figure it out. (see prior post, below). But there IS data on this Public Health epidemic. And that data points us toward WHAT WILL WORK as Treatment for this lethal disease.


Yes, gun-related deaths IS a disease. And the patient is the community – i.e. US. In Public Health, the Physical Examination is DATA and Treatment is PREVENTION. I assume that you are doing what I am – talking / confronting gun-loving friends and acquaintances. Thought I’d share some talking points.


DATA (the Physical Exam)


  1. Our patient (the U.S.) has a higher gun-related death rate (10.2 per 100,000) than Canada, Japan, Australia, South Korea and at least 19 European countries (they range from 4.8 to 0 per 100,000).


  1. Our patient has a higher number of mass shootings than those countries.


  1. Our patient has a higher Gun Density rate (89 guns per 100 people) than those same countries (range 46 to 1 / 100).


  1. Gun Laws in these countries vary, but are stricter than in the U.S. Canada, for example, has three categories of guns: Nonrestricted (e.g. hunting guns); Restricted (e.g. handguns); and Prohibited (automatic weapons).


  1. Within the U S, States that have stricter Gun Laws have lower rates of gun-related deaths. Examples: Hawaii, Mass, N Y, Conn all have laws on background checks, permits, difficult concealed weapon permitting, and no “stand your ground” laws. Their death rates range from 2.5 to 4.3 per 100,000. Arkansas, La, Miss, Ariz, Wy have either no laws or much more lax laws. Their rates range from 16.7 to 19.8.


  1. Moreover, states with higher Gun Density rates have higher gun-related death rates, mirroring the data from other countries.


  1. “Mental illness” is present in Canada, Australia, Japan, U K and all other countries, yet gun-related death rates are not as high as here.


  1. Schools are not the only sites where shootings take place. The worst mass shootings in the U.S. in the last 20 years took place in theatres, army bases, offices, churches, universities, nightclubs and outdoor music events. Moreover, 98 % of all gun deaths are NOT Mass Shootings. They are suicides, individual homicides, and accidental shootings (sometimes involving small children).


  1. Re Arming Teachers – Two points: Reagan was shot while surrounded by armed Secret Service guys; there WAS an armed officer on campus in Parkland, Fla. I could find no data on the efficacy of this policy.


  1. Re “taking away our rifles,” an AR-15 or AK-47 is NOT for sport. Here’s how a Florida physician described the injuries in Parkland:


                        I was looking at a CT scan of one of the victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, who had been brought to the trauma center during my call shift. The organ looked like an overripe melon smashed by a sledgehammer, with extensive bleeding. How could a gunshot wound have caused this much damage?

….Routine handgun injuries leave entry and exit wounds and linear tracks through the victim’s body that are roughly the size of the bullet. If the bullet does not directly hit something crucial like the heart or the aorta, and they do not bleed to death before being transported to our care at a trauma center, chances are, we can save the victim. The bullets fired by an AR-15 are different; they travel at higher velocity and are far more lethal. The damage they cause is a function of the energy they impart as they pass through the body. 



  1. The N R A – originally founded in 1871 to promote marksmanship and safety, it was hijacked in 1975, becoming an intolerant vehicle for bullying politicians and citizens with a black vs. white vision of its one single cause: covering for gun manufacturers as they sell more guns. It’s become a fundamentalist Taliban-style crusade.




  1. The Second Amendment – you should really read it. It is only one sentence. Written in 1791 (no automatic weapons then) and (erroneously) interpreted by the Supreme Court in 2008. It clearly refers to “militia.”  Today, that is the military. Some have pointed out that it also refers to “the State” rather than “the Nation,” implying its purpose was to control slaves in the South.



TAKE AWAYS (the Diagnosis)


  1. Gun Density is a major risk factor for a high gun-related death rate.


  1. Easy Gun Acquisition is also a risk factor. Strict laws are associated with lower death rates.


  1. Being in school is not a risk factor (less than 1 % of all gun deaths). Therefore, turning schools into virtual prisons will not stop the vast majority of shooting deaths.


  1. Mental Illness afflicts non-shooting populations world-wide, independent of gun deaths.


  1. Mass shooting deaths (even high-profile ones involving White kids) constitute only 2 % of gun-related deaths in U.S.


  1. Automatic / military style weapons ARE a MAJOR risk factor for mass shooting deaths.



PREVENTION   (the Treatment)


  1. Ban all automatic, semi-automatic (military style) weapons and devices which allow a weapon to fire multiple rounds quickly.


  1. Any politician-proposed action short of the above should be rejected as B S. This includes minor tweaking of background checks, raising the age to purchase guns and automatic / military style weapons, token increases in Mental Health funding. These are distractions, meant to quiet the outrage, with no data to support their effectiveness.


  1. Treat any politician-proposed action which is not objected to by the NRA as B S.


  1. If our current elected representatives won’t do it, elect politicians who will.


  1. Push voter registration of 17 year-olds. They’ll be electing new representatives soon.


  1. Lobby congress to direct the CDC to gather data and report annually on this epidemic. Repeal of the Dickey amendment needed.


  1. Treat the N R A for what it has become – a cover for the gun manufacturing industry (interesting read here about the man and the company that built the Parkland weapon) and an organized corruption machine which purchases our elected officials who sacrifice us for gun manufacturer profits. Pressure Amazon, Apple and other companies associated with the N R A to divorce themselves from this lethal parasite in the body of our patient – the people of the U.S.A.


  1. After achieving the above, move on to address the 98% of gun deaths which are not high-profile mass shootings.


  1. Sometime in the future, bring the Second Amendment back to the Supremes for another interpretation.



As a Public Health professional, a gun owner and a former member of the N R A, I’ve had enough. Even my gun-loving, hunter – buddy has admitted that there is no sporting use for automatic weapons.


The kids of Parkland are trying to ignite a movement like ours in the 1960’s that pushed back against an immoral war, disenfranchisement of Blacks at the voting booth, and the treatment of women as second class citizens. We know this scene. They will be attacked for their activism, just as we were. We need to have their backs. To rescue our kids and grandkids from this epidemic.







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