As so much of the current gun debate is generated by fear -- fear of crime, fear of violence, fear of government -- physicians should bring their clinical experiences in managing fear to this debate and thus provide patients with sound and effective alternatives to picking up a gun.
I have been asked about Miley Cyrus a handful of times during my travels abroad. I am often asked if I know someone named "John" who also lives in New York City. But the only question I have been asked on every coast of every country I've visited is: "Why do Americans love guns so much?"
The excessive focus on ferreting out the psychological motivations arises from understandable human curiosity, but it also serves a dangerous political purpose. So long as we are distracted by the why, we do not attend to the much more practically important and politically charged question of how.
I know that for Shelia's sake I must go on. I know that she would want me to do something to somehow bring a positive change out of this unspeakable horror.
From our provincial position, 'evil' nations like North Korea should not have dangerous weapons. From their provincial position, our possession of nuclear weapons provides a practical and moral imperative that they have equally deadly capabilities.
Different ideas for President Obama's future library are being actively circulated, even though the official announcement of the location will not be until 2015.
This week reminded us once again of the costs of accepting lowered expectations as the new normal. On Wednesday, a 5-4 Supreme Court decision struck down overall limits on campaign donations, further ceding our political system to the highest bidder in the guise of "free speech." On the same day, Ft. Hood, Texas suffered its second mass shooting in five years, as a married father of four, in a fit of anger, killed four people, including himself, and wounded 16 others. Senator Harry Reid introduced a background checks bill the next day, but it will likely suffer the same fate as the one that failed last year even with the support of 90 percent of Americans. The week ended with yet another middling jobs report, with just 192,000 added in March. All three of these things should spark urgent calls for reform and change, because accepting them as the new normal only guarantees more of the same.
The National Rifle Association propaganda has it all wrong. Most violent acts are committed by people who are not crazy. And even when mental illness does play a role, we do not have the tools to identify which person will go berserk or prevent it from happening.
With news that another shooting tragedy has hit Ft. Hood, my heart is breaking for the families of those who were wounded and killed by a gunman who is said to have purchased a gun, off-base, brought it on to the base, and unleashed carnage. While many details are still unknown, it is too early to talk about what may have triggered this incident and what, specifically, could have stopped it. But even when we do know all the details, until civilian law matches military law on guns, we unfortunately must brace ourselves for the possibility of more of these tragedies.
Gun advocates' blind focus on gangs, drugs and violent felons overlooks the larger gun problem facing America.
In the face of violence and fear, when dignity is on the line, it's standing up together that makes a difference.