From USA Today:
Yes, now what?
Firearm-related injuries kill nearly 40,000 Americans each year – more than die in fatal car crashes – and the nation’s firearm homicide rate is more than 25 times that of comparable affluent countries.
While researchers have long said the gun violence problem should be evaluated like any other public health epidemic, there’s been meager funding for research for the past two decades.
That’s finally changing.
That’s because firearm death hasn’t been treated like other health epidemics.
When there is a spread of an STD, the medical community says “stop having unprotected sex with strangers.” They focus on the behavior that causes the disease to spread.
When young men kill each other over drugs and gang affiliations, they come out against guns, not for harsher prison sentences for gang crime and drug dealing. It’s as though all of a sudden, the medical community doesn’t think that behavior matters.
In December, Congress approved $25 million in federal funding to study gun safety. The money, to be split evenly between the National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will be used to examine gun violence from a public health perspective.
Experts in the field concede the amount is small in comparison to the scope of the issue but are celebrating it as a watershed moment for gun safety. They say researchers may finally be able to answer basic questions about gun ownership and evaluate the effectiveness of firearm policies and violence prevention efforts.
“Don’t join a gang, deal drugs, or engage in petty crime, that will cut the homicide rate by 80%.” But that sort of common sense and understanding of crime statistics don’t get activists in white coats money.
Since 1996, there’s been an effective government freeze on gun safety research. That year, Congress – under pressure from the NRA – approved the Dickey Amendment, which forbids CDC to “advocate or promote gun control.” Federal lawmakers also slashed the agency’s funding by $2.6 million, the same amount it spent on firearm violence research the previous year.
“For 25 years, I’ve never told doctoral students that they should become a gun researcher because they couldn’t make a living. So we’ve lost a generation of researchers,” said David Hemenway, a health policy professor and director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, who estimates that there are 10-20 full-time gun violence researchers in the U.S.
But we have lots of crime data. That’s the fundamental problem with doctors studying this issue from a gun perspective. They are often too Liberal with bleeding hearts. This is a criminal behavior study, guns are just tools. The more the focus is on restricting the ownership of the tool and not the behavior of the user and what causes them to have a predilection for violence, the less effective the research will be at curbing the problem.
Gun violence research received far less funding than research on car crashes and cancer. Between 2008 and 2017, firearm injuries were the second-leading cause of death for U.S. children and adolescents, according to a 2019 study by University of Michigan School of Medicine experts.
Cancer is clearly a medical problem that can be addressed with better drugs.
Car crashes are a technological and behavioral problem. Reducing drunk driving, texting while driving, and not wearing seat belts has been one improvement. Improving crash survivability technology with multiple airbags, crumple zones, and other safety features has been the other. Better enforcing of laws and mandating safety features has decreased the motor vehicle accident fatality rate.
But if New York and California continue will bail reform, sanctuary city, and other catch and release policies that encourage criminal recidivism, that is the opposite of what we did for motor vehicle accidents.
That same year, physicians nationwide rallied on social media in support of a public health approach to gun violence. The online movement began when the National Rifle Association published a tweet accusing medical professionals of “pushing for gun control.”
“Someone should tell self-important anti-gun doctors to stay in their lane,” the NRA tweeted.
Physicians were furious. “This is our lane,” many responded on Twitter. Hundreds posted images of bloodied scrubs and trauma bays.
“A lot of us in the healthcare community were really incensed by those comments, because we’re the ones on the front lines of taking care of those patients day in and day out, said Joseph Sakran, director of Emergency General Surgery at Johns Hopkins Medicine. “So we made a point to the public that we do have a role to play in coming up with solutions that is based in data.”
Activist doctors with an axe to grind. Where are these doctors arguing for more anti-gang enforcement? Oh, they are not. They are arguing against the “school to prison pipeline” that treats criminal behavior in schools with a slap on the wrist. The exact problem that led to Nikolas Cruz being enrolled in the Promise Program and not being sent to Juvenal Detention. Bleeding heart Leftists have more Parkland blood on their hands than the NRA.
Dr. Wintemute grew up in Southern California with guns in his home. He learned to shoot from his father, who had been a soldier in World War II, and taught riflery as a camp counselor at the local YMCA. He later joined UC Davis’ firearm and pistol club and became a member of the NRA.
“My problem is not with the firearm, it’s with misuse. I’m an ER doc, and my commitment is to try to intervene upstream in that flow of events that brings people into my ER with holes in their bodies, or, more likely, takes them directly to the morgue,” he said. “My loyalty is to the science, not to an agenda. Research is not advocacy.”
He’s not getting the money, that’s for damn sure.
Many researchers compare the complexity of the gun violence issue to that of motor vehicle injuries. In 1966, more than 53,000 people were killed, a fatality rate of 5.5% per 100 million vehicle miles, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data. That year, Congress held a series of hearings and passed the Motor Vehicle Act, which created what would become the NHTSA, headed by a public health physician.
Scientists received funding to develop seatbelts, airbags, steering columns, safety glass and more. Studies revealed the dangers of putting young and alcohol-impaired drivers behind the wheel. By 1992, the fatality rate had dropped to 1.5%, NHTSA said. By 2017, it was 1.2%.
That’s what I just said. The only similar technical solution is safe storage to prevent accidental deaths.
Note to readers, lock up your guns before the activist doctors demand that safe storage to the Nth degree is mandated by law.
But there are no similar solutions for the majority of gun homicides, which are gang and drug-related.
The NIH released a statement saying it was still reviewing the language of the bill and identifying new research opportunities.
The agency said gun violence prevention studies usually include research on parental roles in preventing injury at home and other places and understanding the relationship between alcohol abuse and gun violence.
I wonder if they will come to the conclusion that having a dad at home helping to raise the son will significantly reduce the likelihood he will join a gang and shoot someone?
“One thing that tends to happen in this country after a school shooting or mass shooting, one of the causes that is often talked about is video games. But researchers across the country have found no relationship,” she said. “At the federal level, a rigorous scientific study would help us understand if there’s a relationship there.”
“Violent video games and gun violence” has been bullshit since the 1980’s with the dawn of the widespread home video game system.
How about a focus on things like Facebook and social media. Kids without real, flesh-and-blood friends and face-to-face human interaction seems to be a bigger part of the equation.
I’d love to see the NHS come out and say that Facebook and Twitter should be like gambling and smoking. Something you can’t do until you are 18-21. Holy fuck how that would fix society. I’m tempted to run for Congress on that platform.
Crime data shows that gun violence is behavior-driven.
If the medical community focuses on the guns and not the behavior, this will not reduce gun violence and only end with more useless gun control.
If it focuses on the behavior that drives shootings, it will be more effective but will make the Left-leaning medical community have to face some ugly truths they just won’t like.
My fear is that the money will go to activists in lab coats who will rely on their anti-gun prejudices to push an agenda instead of doing real research.
That’s what the Dickey Amendment was intended to curb years ago.