A survey done at Yale, based on doctors political party registration, found that there was a significant difference in how Republican and Democrat doctors treated patients who owned guns. From wisconsingazette.com:
And Democratic doctors were 66 percent more likely to say they’d urge parents of small children not to store guns in the home — while Republican doctors instead preferred to ask about safe storage of the firearms, concluded the survey, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“This was really an eye-opener,” said bioethicist Nancy Berlinger of The Hastings Center, a nonpartisan research institute.
She wasn’t involved with the study but said it sheds light on the problem of “implicit bias” that affects people throughout society — the judgments we’re not consciously aware of making.
“We’re all biased in some way. We can be biased for something as well as against something,” Berlinger explained. When it comes to deeply partisan divides, doctors “can’t screen that out just like the rest of us can’t screen it out.”
The story goes on to add this bit of hyperbolic opinion, as if it were fact:
Consider firearm safety, an important public health issue particularly for children, who too often are killed or injured when they find and play with a gun.
The number for children's deaths in such scenarios are tiny. From a public health standpoint, they are far less than falling down stairs, drowning in bathtubs, or riding bicycles. From the CDC, the average number of accidental firearms deaths per year, for the five years from 2010 to 2014, of children under 10, was 40. The vast majority of those were from an adult males firing the shot that killed the child.
John Lott was able to differentiate those numbers for the years 1995-2001. The average number of children under 10 dying in firearms accidents was 42.6 (from the CDC). The average number of children under 10 shooting themselves or others was 9 (from The War on Guns).
In a nation of 320 million people, and over 40 million children under 10, that is in the statistical noise level.
Children under 5 who drown in five gallon buckets are roughly three times as common.
This shows that the concern about firearms as a risk for children is ideological rather than rational. Take the same amount of time, and use it to warn of drowning, falling down stairs, or even using 5 gallon buckets to wash cars or mop floors, would be far more productive.
While every death of a child is tragic, everyone dies. There is no rational way that any public health professional can say that 9 deaths a year is an important public health issue, unless they have a hidden agenda. That is because all preventive measures have costs.
Guns in the home are used to prevent crime or for self defense between 500,000 and three million times a year, the number of innocent lives saved because of guns in the home, is likely many times the number of children who die in firearms accidents where they find and play with a gun. From the CDC(pdf):
Defensive use of guns by crime victims is a common occurrence, although the exact number remains disputed (Cook and Ludwig, 1996; Kleck, 2001a). Almost all national survey estimates indicate that defensive gun uses by victims are at least as common as offensive uses by criminals, with estimates of annual uses ranging from about 500,000 to more than 3 million (Kleck, 2001a), in the context of about 300,000 violent crimes involving firearms in 2008 (BJS, 2010). On the other hand, some scholars point to a radically lower estimate of only 108,000 annual defensive uses based on the National Crime Victimization Survey (Cook et al., 1997). The variation in these numbers remains a controversy in the field. The estimate of 3 million defensive uses per year is based on an extrapolation from a small number of responses taken from more than 19 national surveys. The former estimate of 108,000 is difficult to interpret because respondents were not asked specifically about defensive gun use.
One of the rules of the Hippocratic school, found in Book I, is “either help or do not harm the patient.” Advocating for gun free homes seems to be violating that rule.
©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
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