Politics & Policy

Docs Gun For a Ban

Medical journals trade science for antigun propaganda.

The gun-control movement’s stock has tanked. Violent crime overall has continued to drop, leaving partisans to fret over the much smaller problem of accidental gun injuries. Most of the holdout states have now passed laws allowing citizens to carry personal-protection firearms–and civilization as we know it has not ended. The 1994 Clinton ban on semi-automatic rifles is set to expire in September, and even some of its biggest supporters now agree that the law failed to cut crime.

Still, gun-control foot soldiers in organized medicine churn out articles for relatively obscure scientific journals. Their message is increasingly devoid of any useful findings; it is mostly an attempt to paint gun owners as sociopaths or Neanderthals.

One such article is “The Life Cycle of Crime Guns: A Description Based on Guns Recovered From Young People in California,” in the June 2004 issue of the Annals of Emergency Medicine. The authors grasp for relevance by comparing crime guns to bioterrorist weapons like anthrax. For years medical researchers have tried to push the notion that guns are germs to be eradicated. This model is cute for propaganda purposes–kill the germs, ban the guns: eliminate health risks. But reputable scientists always dismissed this view as a political tactic with no scientific basis. The message of this article was its title, apparently intended to associate the words “crime guns” with “young people” in the minds of readers.

Another slam at kids and guns appeared in the April 2004 issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. “Gun Threats Against and Self-Defense Gun Use by California Adolescents” studied gun use among a group of Californians aged 12 to 17. Only 4 percent of them reported ever having been threatened with a gun. The earthshaking scientific contribution this article makes is that these 4 percent were boys who tended to threaten others and whose parents didn’t know where they were after school. Did we need a yearlong Harvard study to tell us that? And what about the 96 percent who never had been threatened with a gun? Can we learn anything from good kids who stay out of trouble? The authors apparently think not.

The title of a February 2004 article from the same journal amazingly asks if gun possession and teenage conduct disorder (P.C.-speak for juvenile delinquency) are a “highly combustible combination.” It’s a safe bet that law-enforcement agencies haven’t rushed to put this article on their required reading lists.

The real purpose of these articles is not to inform, but to hammer away at a constant theme: Guns and kids don’t mix; the only kids who get involved with guns are delinquents; there is no place in the home for guns if you have children. And, apparently, there is no way young people can grow toward responsible adulthood by learning gun safety and competing in shooting sports.

Most readers of these journal articles–doctors and other health professionals–would never know that countless state and local shooting clubs hold marksmanship competitions for young people ages 10 to 20. Unless they had a son or daughter in a club like New Jersey’s Delran Junior Marksman Club, they would think that every time a teen picks up a gun, something bad happens. But there are five junior gun clubs in New Jersey alone, a state not especially friendly to gun owners.

Cloistered readers of the medical literature would never know about K.C. Eusebio, from Diamond Bar, California. Last year, at the tender age of 15, K.C. beat all the top-ranked men to win the Steel Challenge World Speed Shooting Championship.

K.C. and all the other good young people you’ll never read about in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine differ from the medical journals’ callow thugs in one crucial respect: They learn about guns under the watchful guidance of adults, usually their fathers. A 1994 research study from the U.S. Department of Justice confirmed that boys whose fathers taught them about guns are vastly different from delinquents who learn about guns on the street. The boys properly schooled in firearms by their fathers even had a lower rate of delinquency than the average for people who do not own guns.

Will the antigun medical researchers ever admit this? Not any time soon. This spring a California legislator carried a bill calling for teaching gun safety in the public schools. A sensible idea, considering that about half of all homes have at least one firearm. But gun-control activists shot the bill down.

The bill’s main opponent was the American Academy of Pediatrics, whose official position is that the only safe gun is no gun at all. Think about that the next time your doctor starts talking to you about “gun safety.”

Timothy Wheeler, M.D., is director of Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership, a project of the Claremont Institute.


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