Last week the Institute of Medicine (IOM) published the report that grew out of the April meeting called to create a new research agenda on gun violence. The April meeting was a response to a presidential memorandum issued by Obama, one of a series of presidential directives following the massacre at Sandy Hook. One of the NRA's first great victories against the federal government was a prohibition, beginning in 1997, to use federal funds for research into gun violence because, according to the NRA, all such research would be used to justify taking away "our" guns.
Following the defunding of gun violence research, the CDC continued to define gun violence as a public health issue by listing gun injuries as a specific category in their various reporting systems, but until the publication of the IOM report, specific discussions about guns as a public health issue were ignored. Why bother to even consider shootings as a public health problem? After all, we're only killing as many Americans each year with guns as we kill with cars and trucks. And everyone knows that the feds never did anything about traffic safety, right? Not seat belts, not airbags, not nothing, right?
Well, it actually took the NRA almost three days to react to the government's latest attempt to destroy the Second Amendment but this morning they began their campaign to protect all us gun owners from the excesses of our government by sending out an email warning that the same group of scientists who spent millions of taxpayer dollars back in the 1990s were once again planning to use their "junk science" to produce more anti-gun advocacy today. I'll save you the trouble of looking up the actual 'junk science' that was produced in the 1990s and share some of the more "controversial" findings from that research:
• Existence of firearms in the home was linked to higher suicide rates.
• Presence of unlocked guns in the home was linked to higher gun violence rates.
• Gun violence was higher in the U.S. than in any other advanced country.
But if those findings aren't bad enough, wait until you discover what the junk scientists are planning to do with our tax dollars now. Among other things, the new research agenda includes studying safe storage strategies, private sales prohibitions and collecting information on acquisition and use of guns; all of which represent fundamental threats to our beloved Second Amendment liberties which would have disappeared years ago if it weren't for the strength and resolve of our NRA!
The NRA's resistance to discussions about gun violence as a public health issue is irrational. Nobody quarrels with efforts to make our highways safer because the auto industry contributes roughly $500 billion each year to the GDP. Being generous I can make the case that the gun industry contributes about $5 billion each year. So here we have two industries accounting for the same number of needless deaths each year and the one that contributes one-one hundredth as much as the other to the national economy resists every attempt at common-sense regulation and, God forbid, a lessening of the human toll. Can we really equate losing as many lives each year for something as essential as transportation with losing the same number of lives each year for something which is nothing more than a hobby?
We need to end this irrationality now. We should defend the work of dedicated scientists and physicians who spend their lives trying to save human beings, not offer spurious excuses to ignore or negate their efforts. Health is a little more important than hobbies.