TweetThe House of Delegates, which governs the American Medical Association – the largest physician group in the U.S. – voted to endorse a ban on both the sale and ownership of so-called assault weapons Tuesday, June 12. During their annual meeting, the group also decided to officially support bump stock bans and the increase of the minimum age for all gun purchases to 21.
The group is no stranger to pushing for stricter gun control, as they have supported assault weapons bans in the past, as well as waiting periods and other measures ostensibly designed to stop violent people from behaving violently. David Barbe, AMA president, said that the group has an urgent need to act on what it sees as a serious public health issue. Noble intentions aside, outlawing certain guns or restricting certain people from buying them won’t stop violence; it might not even significantly slow it. All the AMA has or can accomplish here is yet another attack on the fundamental liberty upon which this nation was built.
An Inconsistency of Logic
In their look at gun violence across the nation, this group of medical professionals chose to address not the underlying issue – violent crime – but the specific implement used – guns. According to the CDC, 12,979 Americans lost their lives to firearm homicides in 2015. The total homicide number, including many other methods of murder, was 17,793. Those are what most – on both sides of the political spectrum – would likely call senselessly high numbers. However, let’s put it in perspective.
There were roughly 321 million people in the U.S. in 2015. So in 2015, just over 0.004% of the population was slain using a firearm. As one might guess from these numbers, murder by gunshot isn’t the top killer. It isn’t even in the top 10.
For 2015, the CDC reports the top 10 causes of death as:
- Heart Disease: 633,842
- Cancer: 595,930
- Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 155,041
- Accidents (unintentional injuries): 146,571
- Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 140,323
- Alzheimer’s disease: 110,561
- Diabetes: 79,535
- Influenza and Pneumonia: 57,062
- Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome and nephrosis: 49,959
- Intentional self-harm (suicide): 44,193
Note that the even suicide takes nearly two and a half times as many lives as homicide – regardless of the method of choice. There were nearly three and a half times as many suicides as there were firearm homicides – though, of course, many of the suicides likely involved guns.
Another in the top 10 that might often involve firearms is number four: accidental deaths. However, also high up in that number would be auto accidents, which accounted for 38,300 deaths in 2015 – just shy of thrice the firearm homicide rate for the same year. Where is the call to ban, or even restrict, cars? Don’t worry, Liberty Nation has that covered!
An Ironic Stance
But there’s one important number not reflected by that top 10, and it encompasses quite a few deaths spanning several categories on the list – and many others as well. In 2016, a team of researchers at John Hopkins University studied medical death rate data over an eight-year period and determined that medical professionals kill more than 250,000 people per year by medical error – nearly 100,000 more than the CDC’s number three pick for our sample year, 2015.
Of course, these deaths aren’t intentional. According to Martin Makary, a professor of surgery at the John Hopkins University School of Medicine and the man who led the research, “It boils down to people dying from the care that they receive rather than the disease for which they are seeking care.” And it’s not necessarily just bad doctors, either. Faulty equipment, poor working conditions, simple mistakes, and, of course, bad doctors all play a part.
Still, there’s a special irony in the AMA calling for gun bans when the average American is nearly 20 times more likely to be killed by a doctor or nurse than a gun. How many doctors have you heard advocate closing hospitals and medical schools for the greater good?
An Attack on Liberty
Even if violent crime were the top killer in the U.S. – or even if these doctors did call for the outright prohibition of all other top causes of death – restricting or banning guns wouldn’t stop violence. It wouldn’t even stop gun crime. As we can see by looking at so many of the recent shootings, people who are not legally allowed to purchase firearms still manage to get their nefarious little hands on them and use them as instruments of crime. And despite popular belief, the U.S. is not the world leader in mass shootings. According to the Crime Prevention Research Center’s study of global mass shootings from 2009 to 2015, which looked at mass shooting deaths per million people, that’s Norway. Number two is Serbia, followed by France, Macedonia, Albania, Slovakia, Switzerland, Finland, Belgium, and the Czech Republic. We’re number 11. We’re also the first country on the list that actually has a constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms, and only one of three such nations in the entire world.
The only way to actually stop gun violence is to rid the world of guns – that means disarming the police and military, too. Then we must somehow erase the knowledge of how to make them from all of recorded history and the minds of men. Even if this were possible, it would not stop the violence. When a brutal stabbing or slashing occurs in the United States, we’re all shocked. But such melee attacks are actually quite common in other parts of the world. Ultimately, violent people will commit violent acts, and they’ll use whatever weapons they have available.
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