Guns and Public Health

A gun dealer says the country needs a new approach to guns and gun violence, one where doctors play the same central role they did in the smoking debate.

Comments: 292

  1. I don't know how to help suicidal people any more than the next person does, but I would feel uncomfortable talking to them about guns if I couldn't really help them with their misery, too.

  2. Is that intended to be helpful? Are you a trained psychologist? Most of us really aren't able to help suicidal people with their misery, but that doesn't mean we can't make suggestions about possible ways in which they can get help. It may not help. I used to work on a suicide line, and we certainly weren't always able to help the people who called--but sometimes we were.

  3. Doctors as part of the debate?
    And Morticians too would be great!
    The more each Gun sells
    Our better Angels
    All suffer a horrible Fate!

  4. Yes, two thirds of gun deaths are suicides. That is about half of all suicides. That means that suicides outnumber homicides by 4:1, about 40,000 vs 10,000 per year.

    We have a suicide problem. Yes, 10,000 gun homicides also is too many too, and we also have a gun problem. We ought not turn this into either/or.

    Both are important. Determined suicides who can't get a gun have many other options, and they take those other options in great numbers already even with guns so available. That isn't a gun problem, but we still DO have a gun problem too.

    The gun control debate hides from us the much bigger problem of suicides, as gun control advocates coopt those suicides who use guns to prove their very different point.

    Suicide is a medical problem. These people are being failed, and left desperate until they kill themselves.

    The remaining 10,000 gun deaths are concentrated in specific areas and among specific demographics. Those people too are being failed.

    They are being left in the middle of horrible violence, and innocents are dying in shocking numbers. Plus of course killers are wasting their lives and others' lives killing each other, leaving behind grieving dependent innocents.

    I had reason today to drive through one such area, in relatively safe midday. It was a wasteland. People are plainly frightened. The man I met to do business locked himself in his office. We are failing those people too, and hiding that too behind the debate on (needed) gun control.

  5. If half of all suicides are by gun, then limiting guns will reduce suicides. Indeed, given the complexities of suicide decisions, limiting guns seems like the obvious first step toward suicide reduction. If you have a good and provably effective way make people happier, please write a book!

  6. I wonder if you have ever been so depressed that suicide seemed the only option. I have had excellent psychiatric and therapeutic care all my adult life, taken medications, had electroshock therapy -- yet sometimes the depression still convinces me there's no use living; it even convinced me that my daughter would be better off without a mother like me.

    What I'm saying is that even with a lifetime of excellent care for my mental illness, if I owned a gun I would have completed one of my suicide attempts.
    But while mental health is certainly one concern to consider when discussing gun control, it reduces our out-of-control gun laws to a single issue straw-man that belies the real reasons why gun control is anathema to the NRA.

    Don't use my mental health to support your views.

  7. One of the gun lobby's favorite pieces of propaganda is that the second amendment is the one that guarantees all the others.

    It's funny then that people with such an absolutist view of the second amendment have no problem pushing legislation limiting the first amendment rights of doctors.

  8. Funny how it's what the gun lobby says, but they refuse to even acknowledge what the opening clause of the Amendment even means.

  9. A fundamental first step in public health is the ability to accurately measure a problem. Let 's not forget that untill recently the CDC was prohibited from even measuring the consequences of gun violence. A pretty effective way for the NRA to keep the focus off of the dire public health consequences of gun violence.

  10. @Mancuroc: I agree. Also, watch what happens to freedom of speech and assembly when someone walks in with a gun, or stands up to make a point while carrying a gun. Who can not feel intimidated or threatened? The second amendment threatens all other amendments. We now have a standing military. The second amendment has been obsolete since the Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, (and yes the Coast Guard) have been around to protect us.

  11. Doctors led the anti-smoking campaign? Not exactly...

    When over 150 experts met over months in 1964 to review 7.000 studies that had a decade before definitively established the link between smoking and diseases, half of the panel were smokers. Most quit smoking during the months long review of studies that led to the first Surgeon Generals warning. The most effective commercial on TV at the time was "more doctors prefer Camels".

    The history of tobacco is not a credit to the medical profession, which is amazing considering that one third of all leading causes of death have a link to smoking.

    An excellent account of how a few scientists can create the illusion of unsettled science is provided in "Merchants of Doubt". The same few scientists have been hired guns for industries ranging from tobacco to Star Wars to coal and they can take credit for many millions of premature deaths.

  12. The American Medical Association, the Heart Association and others played important roles in pushing public awareness of the dangers of smoking. In fact, the AMA declared "war" on smoking in a meeting in Dallas around 1966.

  13. This conference and these kinds of conversation are a good start. I would be curious to know what people have to say who own guns that have been used by someone to commit suicide, a crime, or have led to an accidental killing? How did the tragedy affect the gun owner? What changed? Doctors need to be able to ask these questions in order to aid people who may be related or were impacted by the suicide, accident, or murder. And the CDC needs to collect and study this kind of data, without restrictions as are imposed currently.

  14. "How did the tragedy affect the gun owner? What changed?"

    My brother killed himself with a gun while abusing cocaine.
    I still have the gun (it's non-functional because blood tends to create rust, and the state police don't clean things before putting them into evidence folders).

    You know what? That gun didn't leap up into his hand any more than that cocaine leaped up into his nose. Both things required decisive action on his part, and the rationale he provided in his suicide note was reasonably persuasive.
    Yes, if he hadn't had a gun, he may not have killed himself, but he had at least three other means at his hand at that moment, and could have easily chosen one of them if there'd been no gun.

    Had he not killed himself at that moment, he would almost definitely have done so slowly, over the succeeding years, burdening society and his family, a fact of which he was explicitly aware, so, while I don't agree with his decision, I do understand it, and I can see that it had a great deal to do with his brain's tendency toward substance abuse, and not very much to do with that gun.
    He'd tried all of the best substance abuse treatments available at the time, so I can't say that he'd have lives if there'd been better treatment either.

    I see his death as having been unfortunate but inevitable, and I don't blame the gun.
    I am still, as I was then (over 25 years ago), a proponent of Second Amendment rights. Unfortunately, in a free society, you've got the right to kill yourself

  15. Rationalization is one of humanity's greatest skills. It's a fantastic way for us to avoid cognitive dissonance. Just rationalize away, and you'll never have to admit you were wrong!

  16. Sorry for the loss of your brother, but you have a profound misunderstanding of suicidal depression and drug addiction.

    Our brains take what you call "decisive action" all the time; some people are sick, so that their decisive actions become self-destructive, or destructive to society (often, both at the same time).

  17. I once suggested that the CDC should approach the issue of gun violence (primarily school shootings) as an epidemic much the way they investigate other epidemics. A fresh approach as this may have revealed findings otherwise imagined or unobtainable. I was told the CDC is prohibited by law from doing this. True?

  18. Yes. Since 1996, appropriations for the National Institutes of Health include the clause, "None of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control."

    President Obama signed an Executive Order in January of 2013 directing the CDC to conduct research on "the causes and prevention of gun violence." I don't know whether this Order has actually stimulated new research since Congress will not vote to fund any such research.

  19. Joe,

    Here we go again.

    Who are you trying to kid?

    This conference sounds like another Nanny Bloomberg front group. Just like the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research which always comes up with "research" showing the need for disarming the American people.

    The CDC started getting involved in gun control - a topic they knew nothing about - and neglected Ebola - something that they should have known about and may severely harm this nation That is why a left wing political hack should be prevented from becoming Surgeon General.

    Worse, if Weisser has his way then medical personnel will become agents of the State - sounds like the USSR to me.

    If it weren't for the NRA, Weisser would not have been able to sell guns to anyone and would have no one to teach. He sounds like just another Massachusetts liberal trying to fool people. Sort of like John Kerry buying a hunting license.

  20. John Kerry carried a gun well before his latest hunting license you smirk about. He is a US veteran of war.

  21. Perhaps you missed Kerry's foray into the hunting goods store? Walking in and in his best Redneck imitation saying, " is this heah war i git my huntin license?" Nice brand new hunting outfit too. I doubt he's handled a gun since his last skeet shoot at the country club or off the bow of his yacht.

  22. There IS no Ebola crisis so get a grip!! But there definitely is a gun violence crisis in America. How many dead children is acceptable to you? Maybe when, God forbid, it's one of your own you'll change your attitude. I would prefer to not have to slaughter more children on the altar of the gun rights' cult to maybe get them to see reason. How many deaths of innocents will be enough for the gun rights advocates? How many school shootings, theater shootings, mall shootings, work place shootings will be enough? How many accidental deaths caused by an irresponsible gun owner? I secured my car better than many gun owners secure their guns. Where are my rights protected in this guns for all attitude? Why don't they matter?
    We have the highest gun deaths per capita when compared to other 1st world nation.

    MA ranks 48th in gun deaths. Even IL, with Chicago which the right wing loves to use to prove that gun laws don't deter gun deaths, ranks 37th. NY 47th, CA 40th, NJ 46th. These states have some of the largest cities in the country so why such low gun deaths? Yet some of the least densely populated states in the nation, Alaska, WY, MT rank in the top five for gun deaths. Why is that? Could it be that we don't have the gun worship culture in these states and that reasonable people believe that having a small amount of gun control is in the best interests of the people who dwell there?

  23. Even though I do not subscribe to all of Mr. Weisser's views on guns I give the guy credit for trying to redirect the conversation about guns away from the "this is my right and you can't alter or interpret that right" as advocated by the NRA. As to physicians addressing it as a health issue that is a no brainer. guns kill, but the NRA loves to punish those that dare speak up against its positions which are nothing more than a cover up for the gun industry. Our real problem is weak kneed politicians but in the current environment they cannot be expected to take on this as a health issue or as an issue at all. They have bigger concerns such as raising campaign contributions from the 1%.

    We have lost our way in America where anything used to be possible to passively accepting the bullying of the 1%, loud mouthed politicians, big corporations and the NRA. Maybe we will find our spines again.

  24. Why do I imagine Wayne LaPierre siting on Fox News refuting any facts that may be presented at this conference?

    Interesting the conference will be around the time of an anniversary of Newtown. After all, guns were an integral part of the Adam Lanza household. Wonder if Mrs. Lanza ever had conversations with doctors about guns in her house, those guns she used for closer bonding between her and her son. Adam.

  25. President Obama's nomination for Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, has been blocked by the NRA because he mentioned the need for firearms control from a medical perspective. (And then Republicans had the temerity to blame the President for not having a Surgeon General in place to handle the ebola "crisis.") Given the NRA's opposition to anything that is perceived to infringe, however slightly, on the right of every red-blooded American to carry a gun anywhere or anytime, using medical arguments to push for gun control is likely to fail. Mr. Weisser may be a gun dealer with a conscience (rare enough), but he'll wind up losing his NRA membership for his efforts. The NRA has shown itself to be invincible, unfortunately.

  26. And, as typical with many liberals, he'd be busy working to restrict American rights, rather than working on Ebola! LOL

  27. I am a liberal with 30 guns in my safe. I firmly believe in background checks and have now voted in favor of them in Washington St.
    Tell me what right is restricted by a background check? Is it the right to be a criminal, or a spousal abuser, or a drug addict, or a mentally incompetent person. These are the classifications of persons not allowed to own guns under Federal Law, one that has been around since 1968.
    If I was a gangbanger or a member of some drug cartel, or engaged in knocking the wife around in a drunken stupor, I would join the NRA.

  28. I don't really see the NRA as any worse in its dedication to defend a Constitutional right than the ACLU's dedication to defend other Constitutional rights.

  29. Maybe we need a quarantine until we solve this epidemic. Just to err on the side of safety.

  30. Give it a try Ted.

  31. Since 30% of the population, not white, commits 87% of all violent crimes, and votes rpedominantly demokrat, you are correct a quarantine on all demokrats would eliminate most violence!

  32. Twenty-one (21) days to resolve background checks, including for sanity. The ideological second amendment-ers should default on gun ownership for every ounce of senseless stupidity they spew. Here, Mr. Nocera is linking suicide as evidence of need to get medical establishment more integrated in the gun control process. Examining the mental health of the haters might monopolize the doctors as it is.

  33. At last a gun dealer not falling for the party line view of the 2nd amend meaning guns for all. Now he could make a major career change.

    Doctors should be often on the media discussing the unique US public health problem of gun deaths. They could inject reality into the gun fantasy.

    The gun issue is dressed up in costume by gun advocates—Halloween costumes are most apt—in order to portray guns as needed for self defense against omnipresent threats, and as independence from the coercion of big govt. Gun carriers being tough and cool is a deadly distortion.

    Doctors should quote statistics comparing the chances of kids living out their life expectancies in the US, vs other civilized countries where they are blissfully free from even having a 2nd amendment for their right wing to distort.

    Too many US kids live out not life expectancies, but life sentences, in our prison gulag, larger than any other country. Easy gun access aids and abets this tragedy.

    The gun/health conference may be on cspan, but will it also have clips on major TV media so most of the public will be exposed to its ideas? And will politicians have to answer to pressure to pass gun safety laws?

    There are also many gun owners and NRA members who want gun safety laws. They must be given publicity on media---and in Joe Nocera’s columns—to help shift the debate. It can’t just be gun safety groups and liberals pushing for changes to our laws to have an effect. This is a start.

  34. He's 70 years old. He has already made his money off of guns now he is looking at an easy retirement by betraying his customers.

  35. Any culture that takes the slaughter of 20 six-year-olds in stride is truly uncivilized. Gun owners are a public health menace.

  36. Mike weisser has become my favorite gun dealer also, thanks to your article. I am a former member of the NRA. Their main emphasis used to be on safety, accuracy, analysis, and history.

    Believe me, no Hunter sportsperson wants a moron in the woods with a military assault rifle. Tomorrow, my state of WA will vote on a initiative requiring mandatory background checks on all gun purchases. My wife and fervently hope it will pass. How can you be against it? We recently had a firearm tragedy in Marysville, a few miles north of Seattle, which resulted in the deaths of 4 fourteen year olds. Please put an end to our gun nut insanity.

  37. I'd like to be anywhere with a military assault rifle. Perhaps you can inform us where it is possible to buy one in a country which has banned automatic weapons since 1932? The last time I fired one I was in Viet Nam. You can't be much of a gin owner if you don't know the difference betwen a semiautomatic weapon and an automatic one or the laws concerning them.

  38. NY, your comment and argument are disingenuous and a diversion at best. With the appropriate license, one can buy and own a full auto. As a hunter for over 50 years and having trained on full autos in the military, I fully agree with the expanded background checks. I find it interesting that the NRA members that come to our sportsmen's banquets, auctions, and gun shows have no problem whatsoever with getting a background check in order to get the firearm. Even when I sell one of my personal firearms to an NRA member and ask them to go down to the local sporting goods store for a background check put up no fuss, they still are grumbling about expanded background checks. I agree with only one point of your comment, namely being specific about the difference between a semi auto and full auto and the misuse of the term military assault rifle.

  39. Well he is not a gun dealer anymore. Joe should say "my favorite ex-gun dealer"

  40. The unmentioned explanation is that a lot of guys keep a gun around so that when the cancer gets too painful, they won't have to move to Oregon like Brittany Maynard did to kill herself. If pundits would keep that in mind, a lot of things would be less confusing.

  41. The public health aspect of guns is perhaps the only viable path to begin to curb the excessive access to guns in this country. I don't think the NRA understands how much more at ease the majority of the population would be if only there were sensible laws and robust enforcement to prevent the kinds of mass shootings and predictable suicides that are all too common.

    I have had several acquaintances die through suicide by gun, and I miss them all. Another's attempt left his head permanently disfigured. So many of their friends and family continue to suffer. Thank you for this article and your continued work on this issue.

  42. A good friend of mine's brother died yesterday from a heroin overdose. He'd been using, and drinking hard most of his adult life. He had lots of guns at home, in a safe, had late stage liver cancer, and a host of other problems. There were other players involved, possibly, but the situation is complex and now, in the early stage of investigation, no hard conclusions have been drawn, juts a lot of open questions.
    The complexity of the situation and his lack of stellar character are good metaphors for the general public at large, pointing out there's a lot of intricate nuance to this "problem", it's by no means black and white. as advocates on both sides wish they could make it. People have been flawed, and we've been wrecking havoc on ourselves and others since before recorded history. In the current political atmosphere I see no hope of coming to an informed consensus about this, or anything else.

  43. In the face of such backward legislation , it astounds me that fellow doctors will flock to the Sunshine State this winter to enjoy educational conferences and spend there money there. The Florida legislature voted that it is more important to ban the doctor from starting a conversation about gun safety than actually consider gun safety. The highest risk of suicide is in the older white male, but the NRA demands that the doctor not broach whether grandpa, perhaps just diagnosed with cancer, perhaps depressed, perhaps having early dementia, might turn a gun on himself. The NRA demands that the pediatrician, taking care of frequently unsupervised children in the chaotic family with working parents, not broach the topic of gun storage. Why? The paranoids somehow believe that protected medical records will be turned into gun registries! Physicians DO need to take more professional authority in standing up to the NRA, and decide to boycott all of those tourist dollars to a state that values the sanctity of the gun above the well-being of it's citizens.

  44. So you are definitely against assisted suicide for those disagnosed with inoperable cancer?

  45. "... the NRA demands that the doctor not broach whether grandpa, perhaps just diagnosed with cancer, perhaps depressed, perhaps having early dementia, might turn a gun on himself."

    I certainly hope that, should I find myself in a similar predicament, I have the option of "turning the gun on myself." The more enlightened states and nations are beginning to come around to the idea that there are times when suicide is appropriate (Oregon was in the news this week). This is exactly the reason why the "Guns and suicide" angle is essentially a red herring in this debate.

    There are times when it is "justified" to shoot yourself, just as there are times when it is "justified" to shoot someone else. Until this is recognized, there is no chance of getting any agreement on this issue.

  46. As a retired physician, advising patients what's best or preferable to stay healthy; or if ill, what to do to maintain control and avoid premature death, is our obligation. So, it makes sense to be able to discuss the role of too many guns in our midst. The fact that the N.R.A. has been paying our representatives to do its bidding is a travesty of justice and common sense and the annulment of preventive medicine. Having politics muddying the issue, self-serving know-nothing individuals have introduced perversity in the Second Amendment when nobody is attacking it. All we ask is a down-to-earth approach that will cut down unnecessary deaths by irresponsible (alcohol and/or drug-induced) or mentally unstable individuals. Once somebody is killed by guns (and that is gun's purpose), there is nothing one can do to repair the suffering, other than lamenting the stupidity and ignorance, even if no malice, of such an act. In brief, the plethora of guns, and no sensible check on them, is a public health issue; and as such, it behooves all us to do all we can to eradicate this scourge.

  47. The tragedy is not that the N.R.A. has been paying our representatives to do its bidding, the shame is that, here in America, it's legal! Both those doing the paying and those receiving the payment, should be jailed for life, but remember: The people in this country who make the laws, only make them for you and me to abide by, they're above the laws that make for the serfs.

  48. We already have gun laws, sensible and reasonable. The NRA doesn't buy off lawmakers any more than drug companies buy off doctors and lawmakers. Doctors cause many times over the number of deaths caused by guns, about 200,000 a year deaths attributed directly to the actions of medical professionals.

  49. How true. And those same representatives that pass laws so one can enter into a bar or school or sports arena with a weapon...excepting Congress, of course. If this does not represent hypocrisy and cowardice of the first order, you tell me what is it. Our world is upside-down alright. But not alright!

  50. Mr. N's idea is absurd. If 2/3 of all gun deaths are suicides, what we should be talking about is NOT guns, but what is it about our society that drives so many people to suicide. D'uh/

  51. Yeah, duhhh, shawn. If you would open your mind a bit, you would learn that limiting easy access to suicide provides crucial time for intervention.

  52. The US is 34th in the world in suicide rates. A lot of the 33 above do not have guns. Open your mind and explain that.

  53. We don't have a Surgeon General precisely because it was feared he would medicalize the gun issue and the NRA would have none of that.

  54. Actually, we don't have a Surgeon General because our Congress is filled with mental midgets and moral cowards. The NRA can't make anyone do anything. Put your sights on the responsible parties and stop blaming the bogeyman.

  55. I appreciate the many honest gun owners (and dealers) in my home state -- especially those who stand behind our fairly strong gun legislation. If only CT had chosen to have MA laws, we might have 20 more first graders celebrating Christmas this year.

    But I will admit that it's hard for me to care about suicide among gun owners with groups like GOAL trying to weaken our laws. I'm not 100% sure that most gun owners in America value their lives more than they value their guns. The intelligence of gun owners like Mike has been politically drowned out by people who think allowing an 8 year old girl to fire a machine gun is fun.

    Do I worry that the parents of that little girl might kill themselves if they get depressed? I guess, but I have to admit that my concern is completely drowned out by the terror of knowing that my kids have to go to school with their kids. It's true that they are in far more danger than I am, statistically. But it's also true that their private decisions can affect me as well. After all, Nancy Lanza was a law abiding gun owner. If only her son had committed suicide a bit earlier in the day.

    Good luck, Mike. From a safe distance, I salute you. Maybe when I feel sure that my daughter won't die at school or at the mall or while visiting the neighbor's house, I can move on to worrying about this issue.

  56. The parents of that little girl may never own guns. They live in New Jersey, one the most repressive states for gun owners. Possibly the attraction of firing that gun for the little girl was the fact that she would never get to try that in New Jersey? Forbidden fruit is so much more exciting.

  57. Give me a break!! It was an act of pure stupidity on the part of the parents and the gun course instructor. Nine year old kids should be playing soccer or baseball, but not firing fully automatic weapons.
    Before you start calling me names, I own a bunch of guns, all in a locked safe. I don't have nor do I want a concealed carry permit.
    Only fools live in fear of the boogie man.

  58. Since a lot of gun critics are pretty open about their desire to take away all guns, are skeptical of self defense as a concept, and have little familiarity with guns, it's hard to take their claims of good faith seriously.

    That said, suicides are a problem, and one of the problems gun owners have with getting help is that they'll get labeled for life as a nutcase and have their guns taken forever and probably don't seek treatment they should. There should be a safe, non-permanent way to turn guns over and talk about doing so with one's doctor in a teamwork approach, along lines of "Right now I don't feel right or safe with the guns, but if I'm better, I don't want to give them up permanently." Lots of mental illness, particularly depression, is episodic and people can be really down in dumps and then later get better. The military faces this same problem as guys are worried about being labeled nuts and hurting their careers, but in both cases there should be a non-punitive and non-permanent way of seeking a timeout that does not have the added issue of worrying one is giving up a favorite hobby, important means of self defense and, for many men, a symbol of independence and freedom and masculine identity.

  59. It should be interesting to hear what paediatricians will suggest in caring for the students at risk for gun violence. Any child/young adult who goes to school or college is at risk given the frequency of school shootings. (A statistic calculated by Everytown for Gun Safety, and shared widely on social media, said that there have been 74 "school shootings in America since Sandy Hook.")
    What evidence based strategies will be used to medically, legally and ethically protect students in school shootings?

  60. Every Town tends to stretch the meaning of a school shooting. In a couple of cases police shot an assailant in a school parking lot after a drug deal gone bad. (here in Charlotte) In another an assailant was shot two blocks from a college campus by police. Even police incidents where no shots have been fired are being countrd. In reality gun violence occurs less than one time a year since the Charles Whitman incident.

  61. Stop playing with statistics, NYHuguenot. One more school shooting is one too many. Even less than one a year is too many. Another Sandy Hook or Columbine is too many. Period.

  62. Physicians, including ER doctors who are often the first to see gunshot victims, are a needed voice in this conversation. They know what survivors face in terms of cognitive impairment, reduced mobility, psychological trauma and so on (to say nothing of those lost forever). They can also paint a fuller picture of how people acquired grievous wounds, including innocent bystanders. MDs will be called upon to treat those affected by gun violence and they can play a part in reducing this public health threat.

  63. When you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. When you have a gun, everything looks like a target. And the second is the one amendment to rule them all.

  64. Americans cannot live without fear. They need fear like the air to breathe. Of course, fear is then mitigated by a cold gun in the hand. Good luck to Mr. Weisser, but he does not have a handle on a national psychology.

    As that Jesus dude said: "Blessed are the meek!". Have someone trample over you and be grateful!

  65. I thought John Lennon said/sang that "Happiness is a warm gun."?

  66. I am not a gun owner, never have been. I also think that the NRA has way too much power, and it's deplorable that our politicians cower before them so cravenly.

    However, I also think that focusing on "gun control" as a way to address our country's problem with gun violence is off the mark. That's because I firmly believe that our problem stems primarily from the fact that we live in a sick culture. We've arrived at a place in our history where gun massacres at schools (!!!) are a common occurrence. Let that rattle around in your head for a bit. We've been awash with guns for quite some time, yet school gun massacres are a relatively new phenomenon. There are other developed countries with gun cultures, and there's no such thing as commonplace school gun massacres there. It is a sickness in our culture.

    I suspect many liberals are wary of addressing the cultural issue because they fear it might lead to censorship or media regulation. And I'd agree that we don't want that. But if we want to tackle gun violence, it seems to me that addressing the sickness in our culture that leads to such horrific commonplace occurrences would be far more useful than legislating new gun laws.

  67. All other developed countries (in Europe, Japan, Australia, NZ) which have very few gun deaths also have mentally ill people. They also have disgruntled employees, disaffected teenagers, jealous spouses, bullied kids, jilted partners, curious children...

    The only difference is that they do not have obscenely easy access to guns.

  68. The worst school massacre in US history occurred near the beginning of the 20th Century. The man used dynamite to blow up the whole school building.

  69. and we now have fairly strict controls over dynamite.

  70. I'm a psychologist in the northern Chicago suburbs and a considerable part of my professional focus over the past 25 years has been in the study and practice of suicide prevention.

    The comments of an earlier post by Mark T capture a common misunderstanding of what it is to be suicidal. I'm referring to his comment that, "...determined suicides who can't get a gun have many other options...". In the suicide prevention world we refer to efforts which are designed to limit access to suicide as means restriction. Here I'm referring to fences on high buildings & bridges, restrictions in access to high risk/lethal drugs and, yes, gun control. There is a substantial body of evidence which suggests that means restriction can be a very helpful, if imperfect, way to reduce suicide mortality. When one is suicidal the capacity to creatively problem-solve tends to be affected and when access to a quick and effective means of suicide (e.g., guns) is somewhat encumbered it may introduce just enough delay/hassle so as to prevent a death. It's true.

    Of course, the NRA and gun lobby are determined to ensure that each and every one of us has unfettered access to a wide arsenal of weapons. Their benefactors, the munitions industry, have an interest in an ever-expanding market.

    We're told that gun deaths are the collateral damage which comes from living in a free society. I reject this notion and applaud the efforts of Mr Weisser to change public policy and health care practice.

  71. In Japan a favorite suicide method is to mix chlorine bleach and ammonia together and sit in an enclosed space with the bucket. Shall we ban household cleansers to prevent that means?

  72. We're not in Japan. And nobody's talking about banning guns.

  73. so it takes several minutes to gather up the cleaning supplies go to the closet and combine the ingredients and then sit there and breath the poison, or decide this is not so great an idea. With a gun you pull the trigger and the chance to change your mind is gone.

  74. 40,000 guns. Representing how many dead and wounded?
    And how many families ruined?

  75. Read the article again. It's 40,000 DEAD, and hundreds of thousands more wounded.

  76. If a patient was receiving medication from his/her doctor for emotional issues (e.g. Depression, anxiety, sleep deprivation) it would seem very appropriate for the physician to ask whether there is a gun in the home and who has access to the weapon(s). We need more preventive medicine involving more candid conversation.

  77. According to the NRA it is not appropriate for a physician to inquire about guns in the home.

  78. It's laid out pretty clearly in the article. So, again, why should a "double agent"-- for almost anything--be given any credence?

  79. Cmon now! Our 450 million American guns probably protect 5 or 6 people a year from someone wishing them personal harm............and we only lose 50 or 60,000 folks to accidents, suicides, and homicide. Not only that but they protect us against the big, bad, government that's going to come and get us! That's a great comfort to all of us................isn't it?

  80. You really should look at some numbers from the CDC:

    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 per year, in the context of about 300,000 violent crimes involving firearms in 2008.

  81. There are more than 2 million incidents a year in the US where a firearm was used to deflect an assailant. Not always fired but the threat is obvious. Most of those being assailed in home invasions or common robbery. A favorite is to follow a senior citizen home from the store and drag him into his home. We've had three of these in the last two years in Charlotte. The NRA house magazine 1ST Freedon lists 5-6 of them every month. What alternative is there for an old woman in a wheeel chair when a man refuses to stop entering thrugh her window but to pull the 38 Special out from under her blanket? Or the 78 year old who was shot in the stomach while protecting his 76 year old wife? He managed to get his gun and kill the assaillant. I killed the two who tried to drag me into my house. Keep waiting for those police to show up. They write great after the fact reports.

  82. Without getting too maudlin about things,l can assure the columnist from personal experience,
    That guns around the house make suicide a decidely more seductive option.
    A number of years ago,in relation to a job that i had,i was required to apply for a gun license.
    After a number of weeks,and with a letter from my employer(required as well)l was the owner of a licensed gun.
    Since the laws were less stringent in ny city at the time,i did not even have to go a serious gun
    Safety class. My employer ran a so called 48 hour safety class,which lasted about half that time.
    I suffered at the time from depression and anxiety and came close on a number of occassions
    To using the gun.fortunately,family members intervened ,i handed the gun back to my employer
    And sought help.the irony is that there was a question on the application concerning mental
    Illness,which i ,of course,answered in the negative,because i needed the job.
    I often wonder how many without PUBLIC mental histories purchase guns every day and end up
    Using them on themselves or,God forbid,others.
    Gun sellers are not psychiatrists and one can expect nothing from politicians in the pockets
    Of the NRA. Iam not sure if there is any answer to guns in our society.

  83. The manner in which smoking moved from nearly universally tolerated, if not approved, is one that should be thoroughly studied and documented. Drop by drop, year after year, the tide was gradually turned until, at last, society and laws were changed.

    One key player was Congressman Waxman of California who called all of the major tobacco companies before his House committee in the 1990s. At the time, I did not understand the value in having the executives before the committee saying they did not believe smoking caused cancer. That public session, however, proved to be one of the key turning points in the battle against smoking because those executives revealed themselves to be fools.

    With gun ownership having been ruled a Constitutional right, the national debate has been drastically changed. Now, every step is seen as a personal attack on "freedom". Unlocking this dilemma and bringing calm reason to the debate, on either side, is a monumental task. Limiting gun violence is going to take a massive effort by many elements of our society and government. Medical professionals are unfortunately on the front lines, seeing the results of the shootings every hour of the day and night.

  84. Amazing how the GOP gets all worked up over Ebola, which has killed 2 Americans, but not about guns, which kills over 10,000 Americans a year, including hundreds of innocent children.

    I remember when smoking was presented as a freedom issue rather than the health issue it obviously is. The tobacco lobby held us hostage for decades.

    Obviously the NRA has studied at their feet. Where are the doctors, politicians and responsible gun owners (beside Weisser) speaking out about this outrage?

  85. Speaking of Ebola and guns, the NRA's Wayne LaPierre just said: "The only thing that will stop a BAD person with Ebola is a GOOD person with Ebola!"

  86. "The only thing that will stop a BAD person with Ebola is a GOOD person with Ebola!"

    Actually, that's kind of true, as people who have had Ebola and recovered, and are therefore immune, are the people best situated to treat and stop the epidemic, since they require no expensive, difficult to use protective gear, and can help and intervene with far more people than those who are susceptible.

    So I think that "Straw LaPierre" is onto something there.

  87. Guns make the terrible act of suicide easier, more "successful" than other methods, and allow for an awful spontaneity not so easily achieved by other means. Suicide is the ultimate act of hopelessness, but it is one that can be short circuited with the help of friends, family members, psychiatric professionals, and sometimes just enough time for a suicidal individual to achieve some clarity of mind. A gun in the hand of a desperate person is essentially an inevitable death sentence. The act occurs too quickly for any possible intervention. Other attempts or threats of suicide can be, and often are, derailed because the impulsiveness can be addressed, either medically or through other methods of intervention. A bullet is fast--too fast--and final, though, in some, even more horrific cases, does not achieve the temporary desired result and may leave the person physically disfigured or further psychologically damaged for the rest of their lives. To simply write-off the statistic that two-thirds of suicides are committed by firearm is to ignore a deep pain in the lives of 20,000 of our friends and neighbors. That's as unacceptable as saying that "only" 10,000 gun deaths annually are the result of homicides, police shootings, accidents, etc. Guns make that enormous, tragic failure of American gun laws that much more distressing.

  88. Not to mention those who assume that if a gun weren't available killers would be just a successful with knives, clubs, etc. Bullets cannot be compared to the aforementioned.

  89. I cant even find a doctor I can trust for an accurate diagnosis! Most of the GP's I have gone to are nothing but pimps for Big Pharma. Somehow I have been shooting guns for over 50 years, and carried a gun for over 40 years and had no accidents, have never contemplated suicide (with or without a gun), and have successfully defended myself in a home invasion and an attempted carjacking. In the last 10 years, I have had shingles misdiagnosed as staph; been misdiagnosed with cancer; had my OBGYN arrested for rape, and worked on the criminal defense of numerous doctors charged with crimes against their female patients and/or domestic violence. Which one of them should be advising me how to manage my life? Disturbed people have been committing suicide for millennia. That is their option. If they don't use a gun, they will find another means.

  90. You have my sympathy: weekend before last, I went to an emergency room when my left hand was swollen and painful and difficult to move. After 6 1/2 hours of tests and head-scratching I was sent home without any treatment. My sister looked at it and told me that it was a spider bite - something none of the medical professionals even suggested. I healed up without their "help".

    Having physicians interfere with my right to defend my home? No Thanks!

  91. It is a little unbelievable that every doctor you know is a fraud, fake, criminal, and incompetent. Sorry, just not believable.

  92. And you assume that everyone can be as responsible (and lucky) as you.

  93. A law passed in the USA that doctors can't talk to patients about guns? Is this fiction? Does this also mean a Psychiatrist can't mention guns to her patient? Somebody tell me it is not true-it smacks of something Russia or iran is capable of, not America.

  94. When you give Republicans control of State governments, they do things like that.

  95. Can't talk tot he patient about guns but must talk to the patient about the viability of a fetus. Yes Alice you have fallen down a rabbit hole.

  96. Yes it is true. Another reason I am not moving to FL.

  97. As a liberal, I am withholding my vote for national-level Democrats today out of my disgust for the attitudes of the current Democratic Party toward gun control. When Democrats lose control of the Senate, I hope they reflect on how much all the post Sandy Hook fear-mongering lost them, especially in rural states.

    Gun control is not a political issue anymore. The Supreme Court has recognized that armed self defense is a personal right. There are 300 million guns in this country, and I own several of them. Every state has some kind of concealed carry law. 70% of Americans oppose bans on handguns, and even more oppose bans on rifles. Short of a massive shift in public attitudes, a constitutional amendment, and a door-to-door confiscation regime, guns are not going away in America. These are the facts.

    So why can't a party I would otherwise love to vote for leave this issue alone? Crime is down, and could be further reduced through other progressive policies that actually get at the root of crime - progressive taxation, smart welfare, and better education programs.

  98. How does with holding your vote prove your discontent. It only proves you have no right to complain. Vote for a republican if you don't like the democrats position but not voting is a cop out.

    Reasonable gun control should be the law of the land.

  99. "Short of a massive shift in public attitudes, a constitutional amendment, and a door-to-door confiscation regime, guns are not going away in America. These are the facts."

    A shift in public attitude, and a rational ruling from the courts on the responsibilities of gun ownership might help move these facts into a more decent living situation for the majority of the population that has no use for guns.

    A massive door-to-door confiscation regime sounds like a pretty kool movie plot. It doesn't sound like a real reason to oppose doctors and our government from doing their jobs.

  100. Sorry, but if you believe mostly in the liberal/progressive platform (except for the gun issue, or in my case, the illegal immigrant issue), then it is perfectly acceptible to not vote for a Republican, a worse evil, and to withhold your vote from the Democrat, the lesser evil. This is what I will do today, but I will still vote for various independent candidates that aren't beholding to party bosses who are beholding to special interests. I gree that to not vote at all is a cop out.

  101. Data-driven doesn't work well amid so much emotion.

    Of course you shouldn't be allowed to take a gun anywhere. It's astonishing that this is at issue as a matter of simple rationality. What goes for sane, responsible people goes as well for drunks, whackos and the inherently violent, who can precipitate shoot-outs anywhere, with kids and granny in the line of fire. It's astonishing that some argue for total carry permissiveness.

    It's astonishing until you realize how beset the gun owning community was before they rose up and starting insisting on what courts have repeatedly established are their rights but were under constant and intensifying attack. If you're a resident of New York City and wish to buy and license a handgun for your own protection, even if it's only kept in your apartment, you'll quickly find that official roadblocks put in the way of exercising this right are so severe that it's impossible to do as a practicable matter -- it takes so much time and attention and rigmarole that people just give up. Some of them buy the gun elsewhere and keep it illegally in NYC anyway -- the city is said to be awash in illegal weapons.

    No, "data-driven" has become an artful dodge by some to impose on others legal constraints they have no authority to impose. The solution starts with an acceptance by Americans that we have rights to buy, possess and lawfully use guns. With that acceptance, eventually the defensiveness will recede and we can talk about rational carry laws.

  102. @Richard: I don't know a single person who wants to ban guns completely. It's about gun control: ensure gun safety, register guns, reduce large ammunition clips, ban the purchase of assault weapons and semi-assault weapons, and ban weapons in most public places. You agree to the latter as obvious, but that's not what you end up arguing. Instead, for you, it's about the right to buy, possess, and lawfully use guns. Just out of curiosity, where do you draw the line with the right to buy a gun? Does it stop at a pistol, or rifle, or shotgun, or semi-automatic, or automatic weapon, or machine gun, or bazooka, tank, and higher up the scale of mass destruction including a nuclear weapon. At which point is the threshold crossed for you Richard? At what point does the madness of the NRA stop for the right to own a "gun"?

  103. "The solution starts with an acceptance by Americans that we have rights to buy, possess and lawfully use guns."

    The right to own & use guns for legitimate reasons has never been seriously challenged in this country. The specter of an outright gun ban has never been more than an advertising ploy dreamed up by the NRA. Yes you can find a few people willing to say they're against all guns, just like you can find a few people willing to say they're against all automobiles; but they're a tiny minority with exactly NO political support. The idea that the NRA or its followers will suddenly become reasonable is a fantasy. The phony culture war they've created sells too many guns.

  104. "The solution starts with an acceptance by Americans that we have rights to buy, possess and lawfully use guns. With that acceptance, eventually the defensiveness will recede and we can talk about rational carry laws."

    Very few, if any, advocates for gun safety are saying we don't have the right to own guns. Such hyperbole is generated by interested businessmen, outlying conspiracy fantasists and media interested in amplifying easy drama in their content.
    Defensiveness is no excuse.
    Personal experience is - and a rational system for protecting the public from injury caused by a lethal weapon in the hands of an unbalanced or malevolent person is something we all need to address.

  105. People committing suicide with guns is a tragedy, however what is infinitely worse is when they take innocent members of the public (children, high school and college students, passers by etc.) with them before "turning the gun on themselves" as the media politely puts it. Adequate gun control measures should be in place in any civilized society. What's wrong with us?

  106. The columnist and his source are correct: doctors should be part of the debate. Just as soon as the death toll from medical mistakes and negligence gets down to less than 20,000 to 25,000 a year - the level of firearm deaths in the US.

    Suicides are people who, for whatever reason, can no longer live in the community that you have created. To reduce suicides change the community and provide support and counselling that any one can access.

    Firearm deaths in the US get a lot of publicity but compared to the big killers they a only a 'blip on the radar'. To get biblical: "remove the beam from your own eye before you try to remove the mote from your brother's eye"!

  107. Thousands and thousands of dead and badly wounded people, needlessly shot, are a blip? Then you get biblical?

  108. Doctors have welcomed the efforts to reduce medical mistakes, by regulation, electronic systems that reduce the likelihood of error, and sharing data on evidence based medicine. While firearm deaths may only be a blip on the radar numerically, they have broader impact in terms of costs to society. Cigarette sales are regulated now, and because they are, it has had a substantial impact on cigarette related morbidity and mortality. How dumb can we be? We regulate the sale of cigarettes but not guns. It's all about politics, money, vested interests, and power and an alternative interpretation of one constitutional amendment, the 2nd, with entire disregard for the others. Human stupidity never ceases to amaze me.

  109. And what level of gun deaths would be more that a blip on the radar?
    I am not seeing your comparison of death by medical malpractice/negligence to death by firearm. This comparison reminds me of the one to deaths in car accidents. By your analogy as long as death by firearm remains lower that other causes of death there is no issue.
    Also you seem to be saying that anyone who is involved in an enterprise that may have fatalities must refrain from speaking out on gun deaths until their industry death level is only a "blip in the radar".
    Comparing accidental deaths with intentional deaths by firearms is the ultimate in false comparison.

  110. On my first visit to the pediatrician when my child was a newborn, I was asked if there were guns in the house. I was also asked if there was any physical violence, emotional abide, alcohol or drug problems. It is her job to access what sort of environment her patient is living in and the level of harm.
    Now, at annual check ups, she also looks my 8 year old from head to toe, including a quick look at the privates to 1 make sure all is ok but 2 I'm sure is to make sure there are no signs of abuse. I think it what makes her such a great doctor....that she really cares about her little (voiceless in terms of voting) patient.
    When I see my own doctor, he gives me a physical check up but also asks me how I'm feeling mentally and if I'm sleeping, how things are going w/ work and home. IT TRULY OS THEIR JOB AND TO HAVE STATES TRY TO BLOCK THEM FROM DOING IT IS ABSURD. the NRA likes to cater to the "macho" in men women and disgracefully in children but all they peddle is fear.

  111. Pediatricians and Family Physicians are all trained to do these things. I'm glad your docs do their job well.

  112. I have heard French people express admiration for the artwork to be found on the guns of the past in museums, and I know French people who express a love of hunting or skeet shooting, and support their soldiers in conflict zones,. However I have yet to hear any French or other European of my acquaintance say "I love guns" ( j'adore les armes à feu) as Mr. Weisser and so many other Americans do. Whether said "unabashedly", proudly or whatever, expressing a love of guns here would be considered "morbide" and uncivilized. That's fine by me.

  113. I live in Italy and the same theme applies. People here simply cannot understand the American obsession with guns.

  114. The French don't "love" guns, they "LOVE" surrender.

  115. Yea, that's who I want to copy for my gun laws: two countries America had to do the shooting and dying for in two World Wars.

  116. Wouldn't requiring guns not in use be either trigger locked or stored in safes reduce gun deaths where a child picks up a loaded unattended gun and kills or injures someone.
    Many NRA members are fearful that ANY gun safety regulations are just one step toward total gun confiscation.
    I do not understand the irrational NRA opposition to my suggestion above.

  117. So you were expecting the NRA to be "rational"? it is not the National RATIONAL Association.

    The NRA HAS to be IRrational, since the NRA represents the gun MAKERS, not the gun OWNERS. But it does not want us to KNOW that. But some of us DO.

  118. Do not neglect the fact that pro-gun activism is roughly congruent with climate science skepticism. Another major funding source for the NRA's inexplicable fundamentalism is the fossil fuels industry (Kochs et al) in order to maintain a hyper-sensitized, anti-government base that resists any federal power or responsibility, such as what is necessary to rein in CO2 emissions. Connect the dots.

  119. Guns, sex and money are the unholy trinity that most Americans really worship, despite the pious mouthings they sometimes utter in support of conventional religion. Guns represent a world of phallic dominance to men, whose individual repression issues vis-a-vis sexuality may be assuaged, they think, by the possession and eventual discharge of such an obvious symbol. Killing would be considered incidental to the act of asserting one's male dominance. For women, guns are touted as a means to foil unwanted sexual advances. When I lived in Texas, I noted that the most unattractive women, including those suffering from acromeglia and other disfigurements, were packing a revolver in their handbags, as if they expected an assault. Our bizarre, inexplicable and in the light of so many inchoate random shootings inexcusable worship of this death instrument, will certainly mark this culture whenever posterity digs up our remains to analyse its demise. A demise that may well occur in an outburst of mega-gun violence at any time...

  120. Actually, sexual assault is something that can happen to any woman, no matter how "unattractive." Men too can be victims of rape and sexual abuse.

  121. Interesting thoughts...quite thought provoking. Disappointing that someone with such a great vocabulary would imply that only beautiful women risk being assaulted.

  122. women are NOT assaulted because of their looks. you honestly think that unattractive women are never raped or murdered?

  123. The absence of reasoned debate in concert with well designed legislation to address the distribution of guns to those who pose a danger to public safety arises from a complex set of factors one of which is the disingenuous argumentation from the NRA that gins up fear of restriction of fundamental Constitutionally guaranteed freedoms.

    Polarizing debate is an effective strategy for gun manufacturer profits but deadly for Americans who are victimized by the sale and distribution of weapons to those who should not possess them.

    At the center of this discussion should be the safety and well being of ALL Americans.

    How best to achieve that goal is quite a challenge but it can be accomplished through a careful dissection of constituent components of what must become a broad and well coordinated effort.

    It could begin with the consideration of a process that identifies and screens those who seek to purchase weapons.

    At this point the system is filled with obstacles and incomplete and often incompetent application of existing law but the process of reformation must begin somewhere and that seems to be the best issue to address.

    Regrettably, however, the NRA defames anyone who promotes such reasoned and sophisticated strategies so no politician is willing to take them on because citizens united opens the door to unlimited campaign spending that would prevent reelection.

    Thus, the first step is campaign finance reform to ultimately save lives.

  124. I am a concealed handgun license instructor (in addition to my day job in the high-tech world), 100% *for* background checks and mandatory education. I think the NRA does a magnificent job of education, but is far too strident on what they consider other aspects of Second Amendment freedom.

    I would have less problem with medical doctors getting involved in this discussion if a) there were less government involvement in healthcare overall (I am for everyone being able to get affordable healthcare, but have serious concerns about privacy of that information) and b) we didn't have such a dismal record of government staying out of matters between physicians and their patients, especially around issues of abortion.

  125. You should pray every day that the government remains involved in healthcare. As other posters have noted here, the ACA prohibits insurance companies from charging different rates for legal gun owners, though actuarial tables would likely prove they need a higher rate. And it prohibits data gathering about the risks of gun ownership - which I believe is counter productive but plays right into your hand. So a meddling government ends up being your friend in this case.

  126. I believe Rob has just expressed, and clarified, the position of the majority of gun owners, and likely a good many that don't.

  127. Even though I am a gun owner - several handguns and long guns - it's quite plain that the Second Amendment (which I am looking at as I write) was intended to condone the arming of a "well regulated" militia to protect the state. It's go nothing to do - the imaginations of the NRA and some courts aside - with any individual's right to walk around armed, and not "regulated."

  128. I live in gun fetish ground zero. The following has happened to me more than once. Drove up to a congested unattended patient drop-off at a large hospital. This guy starts honking at me, drives around me, then parks. He rolls down his window and starts spewing insults at me. It goes on and on. I notice he has an NRA stick in the lower left corner of his van. There is absolutely no doubt this guy is goading me to come over to his car which is not 15' away so he can pull a gun on me. Sunday morning I saw one under a kids tee shirt in a restaurant. This gun pathology is moral hazard, a public health menace, and a grotesque infringement on the rights of the vast majority of Americans who have want to go about their day. I do not know where this twisted worship of a constitutional anachronism ends; it has completely altering the fabric of our society for the worse. Anticipating the torrent of abuse and worn-out rationalizations from the gun cult all I can say is this: what other country posts lists of dead people like Joe has in his gun violence report each week that is not fighting a war?

  129. Mr. Nocera, my cynicism about the NRA precludes my believing your final line, "He was too busy with the conference. It could be the beginning of something big."

    Until politicians stop quaking in fear in front of the NRA, nothing ever will happen. And if it does, get ready for a spate of new violence from these rural survivalist and ultra libertarian people who have vowed to shoot up whoever tries to limit their arsenals.

    Discussing and promotion the very sensible issue of intercepting a suicidal patient in the ER or having physicians educate the world about the potential for mayhem when a gun is in the house seems extremely logical in Massachusetts.

    But take it to the Midwest, south, and beyond, and you'll find it problematic. You see, guns have moved from a societal problem to an ideological one. The ideological rage of those that see any discussion, let alone action, to inject some sanity in gun purchase and use will trump any effort to do so.

    I'm deeply pessimistic that any progress can be made on some sane gun laws, unless more of the country rises up to protect our children and our society.

  130. But guns are more important than children.

  131. It's not just Florida and Missouri that have absurd laws about guns and healthcare.

    The Affordable Care Act (more commonly known as Obamacare) has a little known provision that deals with guns. It prevents insurance companies from basing rates on "legal" gun ownership, and it limits any data from being collected on "legal" gun ownership.

  132. "Politics is the art of the possible."
    I would bet that that silly-sounding provision was included to get a needed vote.

  133. Physicians have no particular expertise on the dangers of guns, nor is any needed - guns kill and wound people. Health care in the US is already twice as expensive as in other advanced countries (and physicians earn almost twice as much as in those other countries); why should they be wasting their valuable and specialized time trying to deliver a message that could and should be delivered otherwise? Physicians themselves don't want to get into wrangles with gun owners - bringing up guns could easily blow the entire time of a consultation. Putting the burden of changing attitudes about guns on physicians is not a constructive idea.

  134. In my internal medicine practice I have asked about guns for years during patient's annual exams. I ask initially " Do you have any guns in your home?" If the answer is yes the next question is"Are they safe in terms of children or others accessing them who should not?" Rarely someone is indignant upon being asked but this is rare. Most feel their guns are safe, some are prompted to make sure this is the case. I definitley view this as a public health matter and ask along with seatbelt use and smoke detector presence.

  135. So you also believe that all that should be recorded in a government databse, that you can refuse treatment of the patient because they exrecise their 2A rights and refuse an intrusion upon their privacy when the reason for their visit has not one thing to do with guns?

    We are also sure that you are a certified expert on guns, gun handling, gun safety and such and are not committing a boundary violation by dispensing advice when you are not a qualified expert, thereby opening your pratice and organization up for litigation for provide faulty service eh sweety?

    Oh wait, dont you have to be certified by a medical review in order to practice medicine, yeah you do, so say again how providing expert advice about guns, when you arent an expert on guns, is sane sweety?

  136. I think your questions regarding guns, smoke detectors and seat belt use are way out of bounds for a physician. It's none of your business and I would change doctors if I were asked about things like that.

  137. Right. For years our pediatricians ask the kids whether there are guns in our house and whether there are guns in other houses they visit. As the M.D's explained these questions to us, they ask about: (1) using seat belts; (2) wearing helmets while biking; and (2) guns because those three things (the use, or lack of use thereof, or safety practices) are related to so many injuries and fatalities (so many of which are preventable) among children. Talking about how to safely deal with guns infringes on no one's rights. But it is time for folks to realize that the NRA is infringing on rights when it takes actions to quell free speech about guns. I submit that the right to talk sensibly about guns "trumps" any alleged 2d Amendment right.

  138. I don't think that gun limitations would reduce suicides. But I do believe that a guaranteed way to reduce gun suicides would be to legalize barbiturates. Just as effective (maybe more), and much less messy.

  139. There was a story the other day that more men than women commit suicide...the reason for this is simple, men use guns and are successful every time.

  140. First, guns kill. That’s all there is to it. Guns kill.

    Second, as a society we are now mired in the constitutional right to own a gun and thus the talk of the day is that “our freedom’s” are impacted by not being able to own a gun.

    But, my freedom as a non-gun owner is impacted. I have to worry when my children go to school that a nut with a gun will come out and shoot. With open carry laws, will I have to worry every time I go to a store that careless person’s go will go off?

    When my children go to someone’s house I have to ask whether there are guns because we have no law saying they need to be locked up with children around?

    My personal freedom’s are impacted by this constitutional right. I have a feeling I am not alone in this infringement of my personal freedom's.

  141. You are not.

  142. Prescription drugs present a reasonable model. They're a group of products that have both legitimate uses as well as an extreme danger for accident & abuse.

  143. Dear Mr. Nocera, A noble effort against a seemingly endless tide of money the NRA can flood over our lawmakers.
    How about this, instead: mount an effort to protect our 2nd Amendment right to "bear arms" in the chambers of Congress. As they seem to think, by what their bought and paid for inaction indicates, complete access to firearms IS the intent of the Amendment, then there should be no problem though I'd hate to see the bill for the extra 3,000 or so bodyguards that would be hired, on the public's tab, of course, to help "protect" these "pillars of wisdom".
    Though some might see some hypocrisy in a man who made his fortune from selling guns, I have no problem with an "insider" trying to tackle the NRA. As a fellow "hypocrite", being a liberal and a gun owner, I encourage Mr.
    Weisser and his conferences. I don't think anything will change but it is, at least, worth the effort to do SOMETHING.

  144. Good old Mike Weisser! Decades of making money selling guns, now more money coming in for his state mandated Firearms Safety course and he's also writing a blog for gun control. Talk about a good deal! His conscience must have ached for every gun he sold, I'm sure.

    A little hypocritical mind you, but a good deal.

  145. Joe, are you serious about a "data driven" approach to firearms policy?

    Lets start here: black male americans are the primary agents of firearms violence. Just Google blacks guns violence. Here is a chart from BusinessWeek:

    These numbers are way way out of proportion to their presence in the population at large.

    There is some data. Is your solution to pass laws that don't address this or that are PC acceptable coverups or are you ready to really look at the problem without progressive blinders?

  146. Why wouldn't gun laws address this problem?

  147. Are you sure there is not something wrong with the graph? It shows the total smaller than the part.

  148. @gm - The graph compares two gun death rates "per 100,000". The rate shown for black or African American males aged 20-24 years most recently (~80 in 2011) is thus ~4x the rate for males of all races in that age group.

  149. I believe the obsession with guns and gun violence in America dates back to our frontier beginnings. The country was founded by engaging in a violent revolution as well as trading with the native population using the white man's guns and liquor. Guns have a deep meaning in the collective unconscious of our American brain. They equate with individuality, freedom and personal power to resist against tyrannical outside forces. The Anglo Saxon territorial grabs of Manifest Destiny were won by the use of guns and warfare.

    Now that we live in a modern age, the gun is still a timeless Freudian power symbol. Many folks who have no other power in our society can hold the barrel of a gun and still equate it with their manhood. The gun is always a potent symbol even if you're poor or uneducated and live in a ghetto or a shack in rural America. Hunting is a primal method of maintaining one's manhood and enjoying nature. In this way, it's just it's very similar to sex or gardening rooting us to our Earthy beginnings.

    Emergency room doctors see the results of gun violence when a gun is used as a weapon against other people. Victims of gun violence may be in gangs or just unlucky victims who were at the wrong place at the wrong time. Most of the time the assailant is poor, socially immature, impulsive & under the influence of drugs or alcohol. ER doctors always need to report gun violence to the proper authorities. Adding more responsibility to their already over burdened jobs is unfair.

  150. The Anglo Saxon territorial grabs of Manifest Destiny were won by the use of guns and warfare.


    And all this time I thought the Louisiana Purchase was, you know, a purchase. And we got Florida and the Oregon Country by treaty. And we paid cash for southern Arizona and Alaska.

    But you are right about the Mexican Cession

  151. Thank you, Mr. Nocera. It is good to see you back addressing this issue. It's an issue I have followed quite fervently, but there are all sorts of references in this column to initiatives and resources about which I knew nothing until now.

    Two points particularly strike me. Stonewalling the appointment of Dr. Murthy as Surgeon General is an outrage. Stuff happens, like Ebola. Moreover, the physician bans against gun-related patient counseling is utterly absurd. How such laws could withstand court action on First Amendment grounds is a total mystery. Have these baleful measures even been challenged?

  152. Stonewalling the appointment of Dr. Murthy as Surgeon General is an outrage.


    You should talk to Harry Reid about that. He got the rules changed last year so that it only takes 51 votes to approve a presidential appointment. There are (currently) 55 Democratic Senators, so apparently he can't find 51 Democrats to vote for the SG nominee.

  153. Imagine if there were 40,000 deaths per year across the US from Ebola, not guns. Or any other disease. I can only imagine the outcry and demand for action (even by the NRA) . I can only hope the tide turns slowly against the NRA and their suppression of a plan to deal with gun violence and it will take more honest gun dealers, owners , and hunters recognize that the NRA works for gun and ammo manufacturers not gun owners. Many other countries have higher rates of hunting and other outdoor sports activities with guns, none of our embarrassing problem. And none deny it with such vigor as the effort by the NRA.

  154. ........welcome back, Joe - and thank you.

  155. "In the Heller decision Justice Breyer cited the following: “that guns were“responsible for 69 deaths in this country each day,” for a total of approximately 25,000 gun-deaths . . . each year,” along with an additional 200,000 gun-related injuries. 3000 were accidental. 1 /4 in those accidental deaths were children under the age of 14. for every intruder stopped by a homeowner with a firearm, there are 4 gun-related accidents within the home.”

    While there may be "only" 10,000 gun homicides, people often forget the 200,000 gun injuries.
    Many of these gun deaths and injuries could be prevented by simply securing guns in safes or by trigger locking.
    How do these two requirements in any way constitute or threaten confiscation of guns.

  156. In Chicago, so far this year, we are at 316 gunshot deaths and 1,920 mere woundings, almost all within a small area of the city and committed by a small segment of the population. I suspect that if you went through other big cities' crime data, you would find similar numbers and demographics. In Chicago, at least, part of the problem is the unwillingness of judges to carry through on serious (1 year in jail) penalties for being caught carrying illegal guns. As "non-violent offenders" teens and young men are back out in a day or two, ready to shoot. Safes and trigger locks are irrelevent here. Intent is the problem, along with judicial non-enforcement of existing laws.

  157. I am a visiting nurse in a rural area. I understand the need for rifles for hunting or shooting that fox in the hen house. However, as people age, their eyesight worsens. They may become demented. Many, in their dementia, become paranoid and hostile. In such circumstances, guns in the home pose an obvious threat to the nurses and therapists visiting the elderly in their homes. We have turned down cases as unsafe in the past because of guns in the home. We need a realistic, common sense approach to gun safety.

  158. I agree to a point. I am an older (67) man living in a rural area with my wife. I still work and she stays at home. We have a gun in every room so she has one available should it be needed. Being alone in rural area means there are some people out there who would do you harm. As a former boy scout, my motto is "Be Prepared" and we are.....

  159. They are also a safety issue for fire fighters. A local family's home was left to burn to the ground because ammo was going off like a fireworks factory and firefighters refused to enter the burning building out of fear of being "shot". Luckily family members escaped the burning building. It could have been a lot more tragic than a family just losing their home and all their worldly possessions. It could have been deadly!

  160. @Mary - Thanks for your insight. That's why we read about elderly men who shot their own grandchildren "thinking it was a thief."

  161. Which came first, the automobile or driver's licenses?
    Which came first, distilleries or age restrictions on alcohol purchases?
    Which came first, railroad crossings or automated crossing barricades, bells and lights?
    If history is our teacher, we can learn that innovations such as firearms develop faster than sensible societal regulation. Perhaps now enough lives have been lost needlessly to guns that, as a society, we can reason together to establish regulations.

  162. The second amendment associates the right to bear arms with the need for a strong militia, capable of quick response. But in the days it was adopted, the frontier was just over the hill, the British and the French and the Indians were still a real threat, hunting was a very real source of home victual and market earnings, and arms meant single shot muzzle-loading muskets, shotguns and pistols. If we follow through with the logic of this being the justification for today's excess then we need to make sure that the citizenry are now equipped with fully auto high-powered rifles, grenades, maybe a 50cal machine gun or two, in case of another night raid by the Mohicans. The last one may still be out there, looking for payback. But not to worry, the local cops now have all that stuff and are right there, ready and legally able to beat your head in should you rashly resist getting your head beat in, or if that's not enough, send in the armored cars or an armed drone, which I predict will soon be filling our skies like the passenger pigeons.

  163. Having a "favorite gun dealer" is analogous to celebrating a slightly less lethal form of cancer. Weisser doesn't sound totally nuts, but what on Earth is admirable about someone whose life work has resulted in putting 40,000 guns into the world? "'I love guns,' he told me unabashedly . . "

    As a 23 year Vermont resident, full and part time, I grudgingly accept the tradition and (in come cases) economic necessity of hunting. But "loving" a gun or 40,000 guns is a perverse emotion. Guns are dangerous, deadly extensions of humanity's worst instincts. Weisser is partly right. Gun violence is a public health issue. A public mental health issue.

  164. At my yearly physical, my doctor asked me if I drove and sent text messages from my cell phone at the same time. I don't, but I thought that the exchange was interesting and obviously an issue that this rather large practice of doctors and medical professionals has decided to tackle head on. While I am aware that texting is serious danger when you are driving-- or walking for that matter-- it would seem that the public health safety of guns is equally if not more important for doctors to be discussing with their patients. Yet, I imagine that if this movement does get off the ground the NRA will be lobbying to silence the discussion.

  165. I don't even own a cell phone, but if a doctor asked me the question your's asked you, I'd ask him, in turn, if he also want's to know if I wash my hands after I flush the toilet. Or will he ask what my thermostat is set at. Or if I chew every mouthful 32 times. And so on.

    Doctor appointments are often set for ten minutes around here. When do we talk about what's bothering me?

  166. In the age of a Nation Healthcare Information System, the conversation between doctors and patients are no longer private, and therefore can be neither intimate nor entirely honest.

    Suicide is the public health issue, not the gun with which it is implemented. Doctors can not effectively address suicide risks unless the doctor-patient relationship is restored. It is likely no accident that suicide rates have grown in concert with the loss of privacy in healthcare.

  167. Suicide should not be a "public health issue."

    Just as adults have the right to choose junk food or healthful food; to exercise or sit staring at a tv screen; to be a stringbean or a blimp; to drink to excess or be a teetotaler, so do we have the right to prolong the agony and helplessness of a nasty, brutish life or to end it when we wish to.

  168. Why not bring doctors in on decisions to go to war? Or for that matter on the privatization of the healthcare system. This, like many efforts to gain insight on a controversial issue, is a parade going nowhere. We've tangled ourselves in so many half truths and so much politics that the debate - even in its inception - is fundamentally flawed.

    Who does it serve? Who has the most to gain or lose? That question, honestly posed and truthfully answered, would be a big step forward.

  169. One is a political decision, to go to war or the privatization of healthcare, and the other is a personal decision. Doctors should talk about personal decisions that effect health: eating right, smoking, and yes owning a gun.

  170. I totally agree with your suggestion to bring doctors in on decisions to go to war. Maybe we could have avoided the disaster in Iraq, which has led to a growing meltdown in that part of the world.

  171. I know I will receive considerable bashing for this but I believe, perhaps wrongly, that the problem is not guns. It is access to them by criminals and other people who shouldn't be allowed within a mile of a firearm, or cross bow, or hatchet or even a book of matches. It's people that are dangerous. I was raised in the Bronx in the late 1940s and early 1950s. There were no gun problems then. In Glens Falls NY I joined Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts and learned how to shoot a .22. Still no problems. In rural PA in the early 1960s high school kids routinely came to school during hunting season with guns clearly visible on the gun rack in the pickup. Still, no problems. Rifle team members brought their firearms to school and locked them in their lockers. No problems. No one shot up friends, family, teachers, classmates or anyone else. But small game, deer and paper targets didn't fare so well. So, what's the difference between then and now? I believe too much violence on TV, movies, video games and other mindless forms of entertainment that glorify violence, death, mayhem, blood and random slaughter as an accepted, normal way of life. People no longer have empathy for others. Killing is a mindless, heartless activity that can be watched everyday, fake or real. We're numb. So are the people using guns to inflict harm. They don't care. Just like drunk drivers who care less about themselves and others. Put those people out of reach of guns. And end media violence too.

  172. I used to shoot in a Bullseye pistol league. 15 shooters, 120 rounds per adds up to nearly 100,000 rounds per year.
    Nobody got shot, not once.

  173. A few weeks ago, my 11 year old and I were watching the afternoon NFL game. Every commercial break included a promotion for the networks programs, each of which involved shooting a gun at someone.

    The odd thing is that those shows being advertised typically have only one or two scenes a week with people getting killed by guns. Yet this is the scene that the networks use to promote the shows. So even if I choose not to let my son watch the program, he is still exposed to seeing people shooting at other people dozens of time during a course of a football game.

    "Watch our show and see someone get shot," is what they are saying to the audience. Its perverted.

    Recent studies about fears came out and listed being shot as one of the top five fears. People who were the most fearful were low educated and watched the most tv. This demonstrates that repeated viewing of violent dramas or violence in the news does have an affect. If watching something on tv doesn't influence people, than why to advertisers spend billions trying to do so?

    Its time we stopped using violence in our promotions.

  174. You are, in my opinion, right about the evolution of the use of guns and reinforcement of violence in media. However, unfortunately, there are people who might be perfectly OK one day and not so OK the next - go off the deep end as they say and having access to a gun makes it too easy for them to endanger others. This is often unpredictable.

    We also are "encouraged" to be fearful, often by leaders and people we are supposed to trust (even if we disagree with their politics). But as soon as someone says something "we" don't like "we" automatically say they are lying or covering something up. Given what we have today, a sudden decrease in media attention to violence is insufficient although it could be a start. Putting a financial price on ownership in the form of insurance might have a quicker impact, although, still not enough. We need to have more Public Service Announcements, warning labels, training and educating and doctors and others need to be able to do all they can to prevent violence.

  175. My comment is on the fringes of your essay. When talking about suicide, I would argue that this is the only positive role in society (apart from the fact that a lot of people enjoy shooting) where guns will play a more and more important role. The media ical profession has abdicated their responsibility to support a death in dignity. So we are left to our own devices when choosing our death. What is for sure that I do not want to be in the hands of the medical system when dying. I will want the liberty to choose. I am glad I have among others the gun option if the time comes.

  176. But does it have to be bloody and leave a big mess for your loved ones? And what if you just miss and are left as a vegetable? There are plenty of peaceful ways to go. This is not a sound argument for guns. Suicide is illegal in most states whatever methodology you choose.

  177. "Indeed, it is. In Florida, there is a 3-year-old law on the books that makes it difficult for doctors to even have a conversation with patients about guns. "

    But of course all Floridians can 'stand their ground' and claim self defense. How strange that a medical professional cannot talk about it but a self appointed citizen cop or a man who can't stand music played loudly can use his gun nonchalantly and 'stand his ground.'

  178. To be fair, the "stand your ground" laws merely allow it to be raised as a defense in court; they do not give any protection against conviction for murder if the jury does not believe that the person was, indeed, defending himself against a real threat (reasonable person, not an individual's feelings are the standard). The Florida guy got a long prison sentence, despite invoking "stand your ground".

  179. Being that he was convicted of murder, no, he can't "stand his ground."

  180. I'm as anti-gun as can be. But I don't understand why a "medical professional" has any business talking to me about guns.

    What? He or she is going to add to the usual questions about my well-being by asking, "So, have you got a gun? Are you thinking of killing someone? Yourself?"

    Then what?

  181. Oh yes, as an addendum to my earlier comment which didn't touch on the danger of gun suicide, lest we forget, millions of us are committing variable-time suicide every day with a big bottle of flavored, dilute ethanol. Our founding fathers probably had plenty of buttered rum before, during and after they formed the details of our Demo/plutocratic experiment in loose government.

  182. Tea was the only reliably safe non alcoholic beverage of the time.

  183. Washington grew hemp, too.

  184. Its sad that people can't discuss these contentious issues rationally any more. I think the gun debate is symptomatic of a great rift that has sprung up of late in America along political lines. It is gotten so bad that government can barely function. Many of us on the outside looking in sometimes shake our heads at the extremities of beliefs in the USA. People just seem to be growing further and further apart on a number of issues like healthcare and gun control. And yet ALL Americans seem to love their country unreservedly. I think they should pause and think before lashing out and remember why that is.

  185. AMEN. Stephen L. Carter has written on "Civility", and stated, ""Democracy, at its best, rests on a foundation of mutual respect among co-equal citizens willing to take the time for serious debate. After all, even on the momentous issues that divide us, there is usually the possibility that the other side has a good argument. Yet if we paint our opponents as monsters, we owe them no obligation to pay attention to what they have to say."

    There IS common ground. Let's start there and build.

  186. Mark Crozier:

    I concur with you that the gun debate is one where both sides have become ignorant, hostile, and given to the dumb excesses of mob mentality. Just read the gun controller comments here - gun owners are demonized and insulted with some of the most over-the-top statements. The self-righteousness of a dumb mob is never in question and these comments threads prove it yet again.

  187. The NRA blocks research into gun violence and mutes publishing of gun death statistics.

    The actual text of the second amendment:

    A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

    First, its an "amendment" which by definition means changeable; clearly the Founding Fathers wanted a mechanism where laws could change as the reality and values of society changed.

    So, in the past 250+ years, local police force and a standing army have replaced a "militia" as important lines of societal defense.

    Also, 37 other states have joined the Union. Slavery has been abolished. Women can vote. Cars, telephone, and electric light, among other things, have been invented.

    So why can't gun ownership evolve to something akin to operating a car - ie, being licensed, insured, registered, traceable, and owners being responsible for the safe usage of such a tool?

  188. Also in the past 250+ years we have gone from muskets that could fire 2 to 3 rounds a minute, to semi-automatic weapons firing 2 to 3 rounds per second.

  189. "First, its an 'amendment' which by definition means changeable; clearly the Founding Fathers wanted a mechanism where laws could change as the reality and values of society changed."

    Sloppily put, perhaps deliberately so. In point of fact, EVERY SINGLE BIT of the Constitution, whether its main text or its Amendments, is changeable. (Were this not true, blacks would still be counted as fractional persons for the purposes of representative apportionment.)

    This is a distinction with an important difference. It means that EVERYTHING is ALWAYS potentially on the table in such matters, therefore one should proceed with extreme caution and circumspection, lest one find one's own sacred cows upon the butcher's block.

    In short, be careful what you wish for.

  190. The "militia" was intended, as anybody with the vaguest knowledge of how the word was first used, to be volunteer citizen soldiers who could come together as and when needed in opposition to state-created armies that were working for those who would usurp our rights. This has been support, time and again, by SCOTUS, the last only a few decades ago. It is not outmoded. It is the law of the land, supported by the majority of the populace as well as the courts.

    Time to stop using the canard that it impiies otherwise.

  191. The far and not-so-far right wing have no problem using the First Amendment guarantee of Freedom of Speech to justify extreme positions in situations completely unrelated to speech. Yet, such self-styled conservatives have no problem trampling directly upon the First Amendment in the context of doctors’ offices.

    It’s time for some constructive civil disobedience when it comes to physicians being able to talk to their patients about the health risks of guns.

  192. The assertion of a right to kill in interpersonal disputes is clinical narcissism.

  193. Not only free speech but their obligation to their oath as doctors. It is OK to ask an elderly patient if they have loose rugs around or hold bars in their bathtubs; it's OK make sure a parent uses a car seat Why can they ask about alcohol and drug use but they can't ask about gun use/ownership? Doctors and Life insurance companies ask about engaging in dangerous, risky activities such as mountain climbing and car racing and raise their rates accordingly or even deny life insurance. And still they are not allowed to ask about guns.

  194. In a doctors' group waiting room at our local hospital are bunches of hunting magazines. I hate people who kill animals for pleasure (they call it "sport.") I don't want these guys talking to me about health risks of guns.

    If I want someone's opinion on whether or not I will commit suicide; or when I should do it, I'll ask for it.

  195. Yes, guns are a public health issue and should be addressed as such.

    The suicide question is more complicated. Elsewhere in this paper is the obituary of a woman who made a perfectly rational decision to end her life because of the state of her health, or disastrous unhealth to be more precise. To do this she had to move and to rely on the cooperation of a physician and a pharmacist. With a gun it would have been her decision alone, with no one having the ability to interfere. That is true autonomy.

  196. 1. Suicide by gun is an ugly way to end one's life, leaving a mangled corpse and a hideous clean-up job in its wake. The young woman you referenced wanted to die in her own bed with her family near by. It's hard to imagine that scenario if she had used a gun instead of drugs.

    2. Suicide is a permanent solution to temporary problems. Research has shown that when a suicidal person has no access to a means of suicide, and a chance to think things over, there's a strong likelihood that he or she will decide against it. A gun in the home makes it possible to act on impulse—which is why guns are a leading (if not THE leading) suicide instrument.

  197. A gun is a violent way to commit suicide. It is no more "legal" than barbiturates. She only moved to get the drugs legally. Otherwise, she didn't need to move; she could, like many others, take those or an overdose of some other drug and do it from anywhere.

  198. Killing yourself with an overdose of drugs, surrounded by family, might be a better way to go than splattering your brains all over the place for someone to clean up.

  199. Great article. The proper response to the NRA's 'Guns don't kill people. People kill people,' is "Then let's make sure that only the right kind of people get guns".

  200. But who are the right people? A person can be a "solid citizen" with no mental disorder or criminal record today and tomorrow get angry with someone (popcorn, music, hoodie... stepped on my toe and didn't say excuse me?) and shoot them. It is more than what you said, but it is at least a start.

  201. Keep writing these noble columns, Joe.

    One of the fine nations in this world, Japan, doesn't allow the home possession of a gun. Nearly 100% of Japanese residents accept this because they know and believe that weapons are basically designed to kill. This lack of weapons is said to be a major reason citizens enhance their respect and cooperation with each other. It certainly is a country where you can walk down a quiet street after midnight and not be alarmed for your safety.

  202. Whereas in America you can worry if you approach someone the wrong way. I don't even tell someone that their car has a flat tire or offer to help because I'm worried that I might get shot or punched out. People in America don't like to be told that something is against the rules, might hurt others, etc. It's much better to get into someone's face and threaten them. Civil society in America is dead.

  203. Apparently you failed Japanese studies and have only been in Tokyo a hot minute. Japan does allow shotguns, the Yakuza (mafia) still has guns. Citizens in Japan are respectful of each other not because of the lack of guns but because of their upbringing. In some places, just like the US you can safely walk down the street, depending on where you are. Japan also Kobans (cop shacks) every half mile or so and constant patrols. The cops there patrol by walking, on bikes, in marked cars and unmarked cars. You won't go 5 minutes without seeing a cop in Japan. I spent twelve years over there and know exactly how they operate and it's not as safe as people think. People get killed everyday over there. Don't look at the gun stats to compare the US. Take a look at the stabbings, beheadings and numbers of people who get pushed in front of trains. Then look up how their kids like to behead each other for fun. You also might want to pay attention at the major train stations like Shibuya because someone attacks a crowd every year with a sword. Refresh my memory on the sword again, was it designed to "not" kill?

  204. This whole debate reminds of another argument I once had involving hunting. The guy kept screaming at me that I was against/hated hunting. I kept saying "I'm not against hunting. I'm against hunting too close to a residential area". (there had been an incident with bullets being found in the siding of someone's house). But he just couldn't hear what I was saying. This is the same thing. People might not be against guns, but the are definitely against being shot.

  205. You are absolutely correct. I am tired of the constant noise from the so called gun rights crowd. Where is my right to not live in fear of some idiot who carries a gun for "self protection" shooting me by accident or in anger? No wonder police are paranoid during traffic stops. In AZ you can legally carry a loaded fire arm into a bar! I guess it's time to self depot and move to a saner part of the country.

  206. Mike Weisser is a rare sensible gun dealer. Great column, Joe Nocera.

  207. He put 40,000 guns out there and now he is a hero? He is retiring and becoming a pawn for the anti-gun crusade, money talks. Maybe you all should ask him if the current background checks actually worked or did he sell guns to criminals as well? If he didn't sell to any criminals, case closed, nothing else to say about background checks.

  208. I expect the new Republican controlled Senate to further restrict all federal gun control laws and to eliminate or eviscerate the ATF. The Heller decision and subsequent cases by the Supreme Court make it clear the NRA has full control over the judicial system. The preamble to the second amendment is meaningless gibberish.

  209. But when an innocent is killed the Terrorist NRA Leaders sit down with no conscious thought to safety.

  210. A man who sells guns with some common sense! I never thought I'd see the day. The NRA is so ridiculous about the whole issue. I do not understand why they are so opposed to safety and regulation when it comes to guns. They aren't a necessity in our country. Most of us don't hunt for our food, live far from police stations, or have to worry about outlaws. The interpretation of the Second Amendment, as seen by the NRA and other gun fanatics is out of line with safety considerations and living in a civilized country. If they want to live like it's the Wild Wild West all through America I suggest they go instead to the Ukraine. Those people have a much greater need of guns than we do.

  211. In NYC you might not see it the way so many out in the vast wilderness on the other side of the Hudson do: the federal government exerting control over their lives, illegally and evilly, they believe, in just the way that hurts most: crippling their ability to defend themselves against what they perceive to be their biggest, most likely enemy - the federal government itself. Hunting and all those other things are just red herrings. To people in this category, any regulation on guns is a pre-emptive move in an (imaginary) ongoing battle they're having with the feds. Ruby Ridge! Waco!

    About half the people seem to see it this way, and about half think those who do are nuts.

  212. So this guy made his money off of guns for his entire life. Now at retirement time he gets a "job" with the other side to combat the 40,000 guns he got rich off of. Some of those 40,000 were involved in suicides and every crime imaginable but he didn't care when he was selling them. He is a hypocrite. People commit suicide everyday without guns. Cars cause more deaths than guns but it's impossible to lose your "privilege" to drive for the rest of your life. Guns are a necessity in out country and if you don't like them YOU can go live in a country with a total gun ban for private citizens. Mexico is close, you can even drive there.

  213. That's because you liberals act in bad faith. Your "reasonable regulations" are stepping stones to a complete ban.

  214. You should at the suicide rate in the US compared to those in the UK and Japan which have much more restrictive gun laws. That analysis would imply that access to firearms has very little bearing on suicide rates.

  215. So by your logic having more guns make Americans less likely to commit suicide? Or is that a cultural phenomenon related to a more general world view?

  216. I see the Democrat base is all lathered up over the issue. Funny thing is the Democrat politicians have fled from the wrath of voters on this issue.

    I encourage Democrats to keep this drumbeat up. There will be fewer Democrats holding public office.

  217. Republican supporters are fond of asking Democrats to vote for gun safety because that will mean more Republicans in office. So I must ask, is having more Republican lawmakers (or Democrats) more important than the thousands of innocent people who die from gun violence in the US - including children younger than 5 years old?

  218. Beetle from TN -- I hope you take the blinders off before you burn any rounds.

  219. Mike Weisser is my new hero! I'm so glad to see someone advocating for involvement of health professionals (he mentions doctors but others can be involved too) to be involved in the discussion of keeping people safe from firearm injuries. As HN notes, though, the PPACA has a provision that limits data from being collected on legal gun ownership. Why President Obama allowed this provision in the law to get through baffles me. As Mr. Weisser noted, we need a data-driven, evidence-based approach to solving this problem and reducing the number of firearm injuries in the US.

    In addition to the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, FICAP (Firearm & Injury Center at Penn) also has helpful data regarding firearm injury.

  220. Smoking was not a right guaranteed in the US Constitution, guns have the 2nd Amendment...............

  221. Which says that you have a right to guns as a member of a militia.

  222. Guns do not have the second amendment –

    Here is the definition of militia:

    1. An army composed of ordinary citizens rather than professional soldiers.
    2. A military force that is not part of a regular army and is subject to call for service in an emergency.
    3. The whole body of physically fit civilians eligible by law for military service.

    Your gun ownership (and mine) are not necessary to the security of a free state – which is what the 2nd amendment is predicated on. You were no more - or less - free when you were a non-gun owning four-year-old than you are at your present age.

  223. Guns and other arms for the militias, not everyone to do as they please, unregulated.

  224. UH, don't laws that restrict a physicians ability to discuss the effect of guns on a patient's well-being violate the first amendment??

  225. The Second Amendment trumps all others, even the First Amendment, where gun nuts are concerned, and the gun nuts seem to outspend and outvote the sane people.

  226. Is there any research showing just why gun owning civilians are SO adamant about gun ownership? It almost seems like a religion--the right to keep and bear arms.

    I mean really, is it fear? Is it lack of testosterone? Is it a desire to appear self-sufficient when one is not? Is it a wish to be BMOC for the world? Is it a combination of all of these? I understand that the NRA is a front group for gun sellers and distributors. But I really don't get why guns are such an idee fixe for so many people--mainly men.

  227. Probably in many cases all of those are factors. I have a friend who, when Obama was elected in 2008, went out and bought as many guns as he could "before Obama takes that right away from me." He's an NRA member ,and was receiving red alerts from all over the place that Obama was going to go after everyone's guns, so he felt compelled to go on a shopping spree, wasting thousands of dollars in the process. When I pointed out the obvious, that there was no way that our first African American president was going to suddenly tell white people that they could no longer buy guns, he just snorted and said "It's going to happen. And soon." Well, it didn't, did it? No matter how many school massacres, and massacres in general,take place in this crazed country of ours, Obama is not going to take anyone's guns away. No president is going to. The NRA and its nuttiest members are in the saddle and completely in charge -- as they have been for a long time now, sowing fear and hatred of government, while at the same time throwing as much money as they can at Congressmen of both parties as they can to get their way and keep the gun manufacturers fat and happy.

  228. Very impressive, there are a 130,000 licensed gun dealers in the US and you were able to find one who agrees with your anti-gun agenda.

  229. Which demonstrates that finding was isn't very difficult.

  230. How exactly is Weisser "anti-gun?" he's a gun dealer whose first quote is, "I love guns," for crying out loud.

  231. Guns are trouble, nothing but trouble. They have trouble written all over them. To succeed in life you must learn to avoid trouble. A word to the wise is sufficient.

  232. Let's repeal Bush's law that says gun manufacturers cannot be sued for injuries caused by the use of their product. Once that happens, the money will change and money changes everything. Gun safety will be the name of the game.

  233. @Kristine,

    So if two drug dealers shoot each other then S&W, Beretta or Ruger will be held responsible?

  234. Like Rob, I am a gun owner. There are 2 sides to this story.

    The gun control activists, lump in the suicides with the murders and self defense as homicides. That is how they come up with such high homicide rates in the US.

    The NRA has always kept suicides as separate, and has regularly had articles about guns and suicides. People who are not members of the NRA don't realize this.

    Also Mike Weisser must be(or was) a member of the NRA because he teaches firearm safety. Only NRA certified instructors can give firearm safety courses here in Massachusetts (and probably the rest of the US).

    In my opinion, the NRA doesn't do enough about suicides. This is because it may mean that gun owners go through some process that they will not like.

    For gun control advocates, this is one of the few articles mentioning suicides. They would rather lump suicides with murders. But preventing suicides may have different solutions to preventing murders.

    This issue needs to be tackled head on because suicides are the vast majority of our "gun" violence.

    One of the main fears of gun owners with universal background checks is that the current solutions call for the govt to know who has what gun. There is an alternate solution called a Blind ID where the FFL will have the most up-to-date list on their system allowing the check to happen at the gun dealer, then only check failures would be sent to BATF for investigation. The BATF can perform audits of the FFL to make certain that they comply.

  235. No one does that. Gun control advocates talk about "gun deaths," not "homocides," when discussing the issue. You might not that there is a difference.

  236. On the other hand, that fear that the government will know who bought a gun is a completely trumped up fear.

    Obama is not coming after their guns. Nor are "jack booted thugs" coming after their guns.

    It is just profit motivated. Wayne Lapierre and all the others should be ashamed.

  237. "The right of the vast majority of peaceful, non-violent Americans to be randomly murdered by the small vocal minority of American gun psychotics and gun fetishists shall not infringed."

    It's all right there in the 2nd Amendment of the United States Constitution of Guns.

  238. I have a few thoughts for gun owners. The first: show me a NRA member or gun owner who is more brave than the teachers who lost their lives defending their young child students during a rampage by a mentally ill gun possessor.

    The second: If you think you can use guns to protect yourself from an oppressive government, and I sympathize a times, you are out gunned and surely will lose, especially as the USG military (and soon police and domestic agencies) has drones now. Try some other way to make government change. Get creative.

  239. Yes, ideas are more effective tools for governmental and political change within a democracy than guns. But of course ideas require brains and logic to work. So much easier just to build an arsenal and wait for the black helicopters to swoop down.

  240. A teacher who confronts an active shooter armed with moral outrage and sharp words is not brave, that is panic brought on by the realization of their self imposed helplessness.

  241. The second: If you think you can use guns to protect yourself from an oppressive government, and I sympathize a times, you are out gunned and surely will lose, especially as the USG military (and soon police and domestic agencies) has drones now.


    So how's that working out in Afghanistan? Tell the Taliban they are wasting their time

  242. As long as 20,000 of the 30,000 Americans who die from gun shots every year are suicides then guns are a public health issue.

    As long as there are Columbines and Virginia Techs and Sandy Hooks then guns are a public health issue.

    As long as the NRA can focus all of it's money and membership under the 1st Amendment on a naive and reckless and anachronistic and wrong reading of the 2nd Amendment regarding a private right to guns beyond the state militia no other views about guns and health really matter.

  243. It is indisputable that gun possession by a large percentage of the population leads to more deaths and injuries by gun fire, whether willful or accidental. All countries with strict gun laws have much lower number of incidents involving guns, this is a no brainer. Since controlling guns is such a contentious issue in the US and faces enormous opposition the next best thing is to focus on safety.
    There has been much progress reducing fatalities from car accidents by requiring safety measures and that has not affected car sales. There is nothing in the 2nd amendment forbidding rules on gun design that make it difficult to use them casually. A gun available to a private individual should not be equivalent to a gun in the hands of law enforcement.

  244. t is indisputable that gun possession by a large percentage of the population leads to more deaths and injuries by gun fire, whether willful or accidental.


    It's completely disputable. Gun death rates in this country are about half what they were 20 years ago. And are still falling

  245. I carry a firearm every day of my life. I have a permit to do so. I also had to pull that weapon in 2008 when five guys tried to mug me while changing a tire on the PA turnpike at night. No one shot. They decided I did not have anything worth dying for and took off. I would have been killed or severely beaten but for that weapon. That is the Second Amendment to me. Anyone who tries to restrict my right to defend myself or my family is a threat to me and my family. It is not a medical issue but it is a personal safety issue. Mine. Also, everything I have ever read indicates that the NRA represents shooters vice the firearms industry and has often been at odds with the Industry. They do not represent the industry. Where do people get that from? Also, to the best of my knowledge and belief, the NRA does not vote for anyone. If more than 50% of a representative's constituents want that person to protect a particular right, that is that person's job. It seems that most of the comments I read below are by some disgruntled people who simply will not accept that the majority of the people do not agree with them so they react by looking for other ways to force a minority view upon the majority. But it is definitely a control issue. Thomas J. Morris III Major USMCR (retired) Member NJ/PA/OH Bars

  246. "It seems that most of the comments I read below are by some disgruntled people who simply will not accept that the majority of the people do not agree with them so they react by looking for other ways to force a minority view upon the majority."

    The majority of Americans (9 out of 10), including NRA members, support mandatory registration, and yet we cannot get our elected representatives to represent us on this matter.

  247. If you think that the NRA solely represents shooters you must have missed how much money the industry gives to the NRA. Since 2005, the gun industry and its corporate allies have given between $20 million and $52.6 million to it through the NRA Ring of Freedom sponsor program. The NRA also made $20.9 million from selling advertising to industry companies marketing products in its many publications in 2010. Additionally, some companies donate portions of sales directly to the NRA.

    Also, I am certain that you go though background checks before purchasing your weapons. Why exactly shouldn't everyone have to go through those same checks, which is what gun control groups are seeking. Why shouldn't every gun purchaser have a modicum of training and evaluation before carrying their guns anywhere?

    This article is about the health implications of an armed nation. You don't think doctors should have some voice in that discussion? Or should they just continue to treat the many gun shot victims and be silenced so that you can preserve your personal safety rights without any imposition.

  248. -"anyone who tries to restrict my right to defend myself or my family is a threat to me and my family..."

    Exactly who in your mind is restricting your right to defend yourself or your family? You stated yourself that you have a permit, and you carried your weapon when a threat approached. So apparently you were saved by your weapon. No one has ever claimed they want to take your weapons away. Gun safety advocates are for increased background checks. Unless you will apparently fail a background check, I don't see where the threat to your right to defend yourself is.

  249. The State laws that are aimed at the Doctor-Patient interface where guns as a cause of a health issue cannot be discussed are very pernicious. We have already heard the uproar from the pro-gun lobbies concerning the attempt by our CDC to equate the numerous deaths by guns as a disease problem. To even hint that these deaths by guns are to be classified as a disease would place the debate on a whole different level. Pro-gun lobbies can see how such a classification could weaken their stance on the "Right to bear arms".

  250. If you really want to impede the gun-fetish culture, then stop with the non-starters. Embrace the Second Amendment, which itself embraces gun control--you know, that part about a "well regulated Militia." If you own a gun, then you should have to muster with a militia authorized under elected representation.

  251. How did guns get to be so important in this country. The wild west lasted about 20 years. Now we are back to carrying guns in public. How nutty can we be?

  252. Any country that can treat a Newtown massacre with a smug yawn isn't serious about controlling its most dangerous epidemic.

    Once again, the state the country finds itself in on this issue is a result of successful propaganda and money in politics. It is a toxic brew.

    Like so many Americans, while I wouldn't go out into the woods to shoot defenseless animals, I don't object to others who want to do that. I do object to the notion that any American should be allowed to carry a concealed handgun. Handguns only have one use - to kill other humans.

    It is remarkable to me that police departments aren't in the vanguard of this movement. They are the ones who routinely have to confront the crazies who have stockpiled both guns and ammo.

    The Second Amendment clearly ties together the right to bear arms with a well regulated militia. That net does not widen to include every Tom, Dick, or Harry who wants to pretend he's his local Harry Callahan.

    A national politician with courage needs to stand up and talk about this issue and then propose that a national gun buyback program be initiated, and that after a successful background check, all hunters must be required to pass a safety course.

    Hand gun ownership should be restricted to law enforcement officers and others that require them in their professional life.

    The country remains in the vice of corporate America. The munitions industry and its highly successful lobbying group the NRA are only one example.

  253. No, it does not "clearly tie" it to that. The militia clause is a statement of purpose, not a conditional.

  254. When is the NYT going to realize that gun control laws have no effect on the rates of gun violence? And do you think law-abiding gun owners are eager to give up their rights to prevent others from killing themselves?

  255. Gun control laws don't mean that law abiding gun owners give up their rights to prevent others from killing them. It means that people who shouldn't own guns who try to buy them may be prevented. It also means that guns, their use and display in public are regulated. Is your right to own a gun and display it in public more important than my right to walk the streets without fear of your shooting me in a fit of pique?

  256. Here in GA, the town of Kennesaw requires residents to own a gun. This so flips the second amendment on its head that I don't know how team Opus Dei on the SC could even uphold it.

    To REQUIRE citizens to arm themselves? What madness is this? I've read the constitution backwards and forwards and can find no possible reading that would permit the government to compel citizens to own guns.

  257. Except that all able bodied males are part of the Militia and are therefore required to own a gun for that purpose. Read much?

  258. To REQUIRE citizens to arm themselves? What madness is this? I've read the constitution backwards and forwards and can find no possible reading that would permit the government to compel citizens to own guns.


    This goes back to the beginning of the history of the US. The Second Militia Act of 1792 required:

    Militia members, referred to as "every citizen, so enrolled and notified," "...shall within six months thereafter, provide himself..." with a musket, bayonet and belt, two spare flints, a cartridge box with 24 bullets, and a knapsack. Men owning rifles were required to provide a powder horn, 1/4 pound of gunpowder, 20 rifle balls, a shooting pouch, and a knapsack.

  259. Americans are afloat in a sea of fear. We fear that our President is aspiring to dictatorial powers, that our medical community is lying to us and endangering our health to increase profits, that our security agencies are spying on us, that Republicans or Democrats are going to destroy democracy, that criminals are hiding around every corner, that industry is poisoning the environment, that the rich are controlling our legislature, that vaccines are killing our children, that our god is angry at us . . .

    We have become so obsessed with avoiding disaster that we have no time for living life. We have demonized so many of our politicians and institutions and neighbors that we have nowhere to turn for sanctuary.

    Except guns.

    We will not reduce the mania for guns until we reduce the fear that inspires it, and we will not reduce fear until it stops winning elections and selling products. Living successfully in a complex, inter-related world is above all else an IQ test. We are failing.

  260. Yes, the conservatives have been campaigning on a "government is evil, government is the problem" platform since Reagan. And now too many of the gullible believe it (Rush Limbaugh's "dittoheads," sheep who need to be fed the daily party line), and they express the need to be armed to the teeth to "protect themselves" from this evil government monster that is dying to take away all their rights. If conservatives had not spent the last 30+ years demonizing the government we wouldn't have such a big gun problem -- although we would probably still have a gun problem, since nothing is so fetishized in popular culture in this country as guns.

    Any country where a large segment of the population states their constant hatred, fear or distrust of its government, while simultaneously enjoying greater freedoms than any other nation on earth, is not a nation but an insane asylum.

  261. If only all gun dealers had a heart and a conscience -- there would be many fewer of them

  262. Like drunks that maim and destroy, bartenders and their establishments have been held liable for serving one or several drinks too many. I can visualize, in time, that gun dealers will also be held liable and responsible. How many more
    need to die before that happens?

  263. Until and unless legislatures mandate comprehensive background checks coupled with support from the courts, school administrators, law enforcement, parents and friends of mentally ill or criminally inclined persons the problems of gun violence and all its repercussions on families and institutions the issue will never be resolved.

  264. Being that the gun control statists have done nothing but show bad faith for the past 50 years, forgive us for not wanting to "compromise" with you. You people never outline the limits of your push. There's always something more you say "can be done."

    We've seen what your ideal looks like (in NY, NJ and MD). In your world, people would not be allowed to carry firearms in public (What part of "keep and BEAR arms" is confusing to you?), there'd be expensive licensing fees, bans on cosmetic features, and so forth.

    So nope, we're not playing.

  265. What part of a "well regulated militia" is confusing to you? You guys always manage to keep that part of the 2nd Amendment out of the discussion. Gee, I wonder why?

  266. Mike Weisser is misguided. Guns are tools that have pronounced benefits (self-defense, sport and hunting, to name three) and they are not diseases to fit into a medical research model. (Does anyone extol the benefits and virtues of Ebola or polio, or the flu?) At best, if medicine wants to get involved have epidemiologists plot where crimes involving guns occur against where lawful, responsible gun owners live and observe the overlap. (I can save some time, there won't be much overlap, if any. Here in Massachusetts we don't have a gun problem, rather we have a gang problem.) The same holds for the rest of the U.S. Strip out gang violence everywhere in America and our gun homicides would be less than many or other countries we are often compared against. (Massachusetts itself would have lower gun homicides than the UK, Germany, etc.) Also, Hemenway and others miss the point about suicides, at least in Massachusetts, as the preponderance of our suicides are by hanging. I guess doctor's should start questioning patients about their hardware store purchases of rope.

    This is just gun (and gun owner) bigotry, plain and simple. Hemingway is on record for what he thinks about gun owners (see and Mike Weisser is having a very public self-loathing episode. It's a pity he spent so much of his life doing something that caused him so much pain and I hope he doesn't carry a gun, for his sake.

  267. "At best, if medicine wants to get involved have epidemiologists plot where crimes involving guns occur against where lawful, responsible gun owners live and observe the overlap."

    The CDC and NIH are prohibited by law from such studies. For someone so passionate on the subject, I would have expected you to be aware of this odd law. We are prohibited from compiling the facts.

    As a result, you have the opinion, not backed by any research whatsoever, that: "(I can save some time, there won't be much overlap, if any. Here in Massachusetts we don't have a gun problem, rather we have a gang problem.)"

    There is no danger, Rick, of anyone disabusing you of your strange, subjective views on gun violence. The law won't allow it.

  268. You forgot the most famous use of the "tool": killing people. Ultimately it all comes down to that.

  269. The CDC and NIH are prohibited by law from such studies. For someone so passionate on the subject, I would have expected you to be aware of this odd law. We are prohibited from compiling the facts.


    Then how come the CDC issued a study on the subject last year:

    This is a gun-control myth

  270. My father enjoyed having a gun and used it for target practice; he also kept his pistol hidden in his motor home for protection when traveling.

    In his last days, when he was so sick, he suggested to Mom that she remove the gun from the house so that he wouldn't be tempted to commit suicide. She immediately donated it with its ammunition to the local sheriff.

    Dad passed away peacefully in bed a few weeks later; because of his fore site, Mom didn't have to walk into their bedroom and find his brains and blood spattered all over the wall. Suicide may seem like a good choice to someone suffering in great pain, but it is much more painful for their loved ones to deal with the aftermath.

  271. Since my eldest daughter's first pediatrician's visit, and at every subsequent visit for her and her sisters, I've been asked the same questions:What year was my house built, and am I aware of any lead paint within it? This is a perfectly reasonable inquiry, given the well-established the risk of lead to a child's development. I have never been irritated or felt judged by being asked this question; I'm not being asked because my pediatrician suspects I allow my children to live in squalor and eat paint chips off the floor. I'm being asked because we know very well what the risks are, and a simply inquiry can help mitigate that risk. Have we all grown so sensitive and defensive that we perceive simple, routine questions as an indication of judgement and disapproval? How about questions regarding car seat/seatbelt usage, nutrition, vaccinations, secondhand smoke, and concussion indicators? Shall we do away with those questions and the relevant information because someone might feel judged by the physician, never mind the established public health knowledge about risks and benefits associated with those issues?
    I think not.
    Our pediatrician asks about lead paint because it is established to be a risk in certain circumstances, and education is key to prevention. Is a weapon - whether for sport or protection - in the home any less risky?

  272. Unless you live in a very old home lead paint isn't an issue. Lead paint was banned in 1978.

  273. I'll agree to stricter gun laws when Democrates agree to stop abortions after 20 weeks into pregnancy, then many more lives will be saved all around.

  274. It would actually be great if we officially knew the extent of gun violence, including suicide. but the Republicans in Congress have successfully worked to ban the CDC from studying the role of guns in the health of the American Public. The Democrats have been increasingly feckless on the subject of gun violence and are afraid to run on the stance that criminals and crazies should not have guns and gun owners (just like car owners) should be required to have insurance. Washington DC is being required to issue gun permits, mostly because of the Supreme Court's wrong headed ruling on individual gun ownership. What I would do if I were in DC is have a permit application that asks "which well-regulated militia are you a member of?" Failing to answer that would disqualify from the applicant as it strictly construes the Second Amendment.

  275. Why do you think only the CDC can compile this information? There are plenty of studies around this.

  276. It would actually be great if we officially knew the extent of gun violence, including suicide. but the Republicans in Congress have successfully worked to ban the CDC from studying the role of guns in the health of the American Public.


    Not true.

    The CDC issued a report on the subject last year.

  277. Munitions sales is what drives this agenda. It will take an equally well funded force to fight back. What the gun promoting idiots have is a great PR campaign that works entirely too well at the grass roots level. Freedom, macho self reliance, self protection, defending liberty, caring for your loved ones, etc.. There is the heart of the matter. How do you challenge these marketing ploys considering these are the stories the NRA politicians use to sell themselves?

  278. The anti-gun forces are extremely well funded so that's not the problem. The problem for the left is that most people don't agree with their extremist agenda.

  279. Like the leaders of the Ku Klux Klan, and Al Qaeda, Weisser's desire to deprive people of their rights and liberties in order to get some free ink and air time for his business is despicable. I do not know who buys from him, but if I lived in Mass. I would never give him any of my business.

  280. Afraid are you? The 2nd Amendment is going to be changed sooner or later, as have more than 20 amendments in the past. It may take time, but it is going o happen.......

  281. Today, WA state votes on 2 competing statewide ballot initiatives about guns. I-594 would require background checks on all gun sales and transfers, private and public. The most recent poll has I-594 winning about 60% of the vote. The competing initiative, I-591 would prevent WA from having background checks if there is no national standard - something gun rights advocate know won't happen in Congress. But I-591 also includes a prohibition on gun confiscation without due process; an issue that has nothing to do with I-594. Gun rights absolutists always raise the slippery slope specter of gun confiscation to fight any increased regulation of guns. The scary part is that their strategy may be working. The same poll that showed I-594 at 60% approval showed that I-591, an initiative that would do the exact opposite of I-594, is too close to call, with undecideds to determine the outcome. If both pass, it will fall to the legislature or the courts - arenas that are far more favorable to gun rights lobbyists and organizations than the ballot box. Confusion and fears of "confiscation" may derail universal background checks in WA. Don't be fooled.

    Vote YES on I-594 and NO on I-591!!!

  282. A sensible man with sensible ideas, but I fear he has come on the scene too late. The "Gun Ownership Genie" is out of the bottle and can never be put back in. As you and Mr. Weisser and many others know, there are now over 300 MILLION privately-owned firearms in the U.S. 300 MILLION! And billions of rounds of ammunition for them. I predict that one day most of those guns will begin firing at about the same time, for reasons noble or evil, justified or not, reasonable or non. A charismatic firebrand will appear from somewhere and convince the gun-owners to fear their government, or the military or their police, or their neighbor or those of different skin color or religion. Or it could be for lack of jobs, or income disparity, or immigration. The list is long and contains many reasons to choose from. And once again, guns will be thought to be the solution, as history has shown time and again. I am glad I will not be here to see it. But it IS coming......

  283. Why wouldn't a gun owner want the thorough training and regulation that a car owner must have? That's the crazy part.

  284. Why wouldn't a gun owner want to go through mandatory training? How about because its totally pointless? There are about 30,000 gun deaths in the US each year. Roughly 10k are murders are 20k are suicides. Considerably less than 1000 are accidents.

    No training program is going to stop people from murdering each other or committing suicide. So what is the point?

  285. Now days, except for people living in large cities and the inner ring of suburbs of those cities, everyone needs a car or access to a car. Car manufacturers and dealers will still sell the same number of cars, regardless of the requirements for driver training and licensing. The car companies fight changes in safety requirements or mileage efficiency, but they keep selling the same number of cars.

    Everyone, with very few exceptions, however, does not need a gun. The manufacturers and sellers of guns -- who are the power behind the National Rifle Association -- stand to sell fewer guns and fewer expensive guns if every potential buyer has to be trained and able past a test. The gun sellers will sell still fewer, if the guns have to be safe.

  286. The point is that guns, especially when they are being carried, make it much easier to murder someone. They also make it easier to commit suicide when deeply depressed without going through the planning stage, during which the suicidal person may reconsider.