Apr 14

Guns as a health problem? What about the 2.5 million traumas doctors will never see?

Again, we return to the insistence that guns are a health problem. If you are looking for a mechanism to reduce violence – including by knives, fists, bats, groups and more – one mechanism already exists, and gun control is vociferously against it.

When it comes to seeing guns as a health problem, then, one is exceeding boundaries, as some gun owner physicians have pointed out. A physician may see traumas which vex them, but have positively no understanding of how many lives an armed citizen saves every year. Notice that I do not refer to saves by ‘guns‘, but by armed citizens.

The parts that make the armed citizen worthy of wider acceptance in our society is that every citizen is possessed of all legal authority to stop a violent crime in progress. I have put it this way: when the armed citizen is on scene [ as in being the target of violence ], the law is on scene also. This is because authority of police rises up from the people as does a great deal of public service authority, and gun owners as armed retain that authority by dint of substantive law, codified law, case law, public interest and public policy, and what lawyers call TARP; the average reasonable person doctrine. This is why ‘guns’ are demonized in disarming the populace; one cannot find it so easy to disarm people – and reasonableness or public interest – with so much of a preponderance on the side of the armed citizen. One practice is to demonize guns and to cover up the actual latitude an average citizen has in how a defensive gun use is quite lawful – and reasonably so.

Where the citizen is free, willing and able to refuse to be a victim of violence, there is more due process, more citizen authority, more public policy, more public interest and more law than in the more than 20,000 gun laws in the country.

The genius of the armed citizen is that the law is present when needed and the gun control is absent when it is needed most.

Mistaken notions and smear combine to undermine resolve of non-gun owner citizens who might like to learn more. Speaking charitably, characterizing ‘guns’ as a health problem is one example of deception that operates from a cloistered position which seems to make sense only to them; it doesn’t make sense at all, however, when the real mission – public safety, hardly a single issue question – becomes the first casualty of that perspective.

Under color of personal torment at seeing unending gun shot wounds, anti-gun medical professionals betray their limited viewpoint and seem unwilling to learn more. Let’s go to school.

Emergency Departments also see knife wounds, beatings, rapes, robberies, and stress connected to home invasions, carjackings, drug use, accidents and so much more. Why single out guns when about 80% of unwanted – preventable –  trauma is left unaddressed? Medicine knows very well that many diseases and other conditions are preventable. Violence is preventable, friends. If we are viewing anything here as a health problem, it is a) criminal violence and b) like most distribution questions, preventable violence.

Crimes of violence, burglaries, rapes, robberies, beatings and other traumas can get as high as 5 million each year. This is what the E.D. sees all the time, yet objects to only GSW traumas. What if there were a mechanism to curtail all of these, not only GSW? What if violence were viewed as among the preventable challenges found in Medicine?

It’s time to look at this issue of violent acts as preventable.

Experts from Gary Kleck et al to Professor John Lott have published for the world that armed citizens de-escalate a violent act about 2.5 million times every year. In view of about 5 million violent crimes every year at present, armed citizens keep another 2.5 million from becoming a total of 7.5 million annually. This is a prevention of about 2.5 million, and it is significant to the household who sees the problem as baffling and intractable. It’s not as stubborn as it sounds.

Gun ownership is part of the societal prophylaxis – part of the preventative – against violence trauma. The armed citizen is the solution.

Why would anyone who is sick of seeing trauma object to this remedy? Because it isn’t the trauma they are objecting to, is it?

The numbers are pretty much accepted largely because citizens see more violence than police do. Figures are compiled by the FBI turned in to them by police nationwide. Who do you think makes the requests for police aid? Citizens do. Furthermore, there are tons of unreported instances which citizens see and police do not. Law enforcement depends very heavily on citizen cooperation and reporting in Neighborhood Watch, CERT Programs and Amber Alerts to name a few. Reporting is essential to law enforcement’s mission. As the first contact of violent crime, our citizens have the mission of our own personal safety in the absence of police. Defensive Gun Use is part of the story of how the patient plays a role in their own health care this way . . if you’re willing to acknowledge that violence is a health problem and not guns.

Guns are not a problem; violence of all types is a problem and gun control aggravates the problem of beatings, knifings, rapes, mayhems and robberies. Doctors do not see the cost of second amendment rights; they are seeing the cost of gun control. When they see shootings, they are seeing violent crime. GSW patients in the surgical ICU of any large city hospital were put there largely by violent crime, and violent crime breaks several laws already on the books. The ICU also sees knifings, beatings, etc. etc. Why should GSW be any different when the subject is violence?

Opposition to this concept of citizen involvement and personal safety – you might say citizens playing their role in their own health care – furnishes weak arguments which, on balance, cannot survive the test of critical analysis and vital comparison. Put another way, which is better: more armed citizens with legal authority throughout a community or more violence and hand-wringing because there is no authority at the scene of a crime? Remember that gun owners are trained better than they are given credit for, and they are not the ones committing the violence.

In fact, let’s clear up a few more mistaken notions while we’re at it.

When gun owners speak to non-gun owners about civil rights, heritage and law, many listeners think only of violence. They mistakenly believe that a gun owner denies a burglar due process because they can think only of shooting as the one and only action; actually, holding for police and effecting a detention is the on-scene beginning of the suspect’s due process.

When one hears armed self-defense, they think of vigilante. Vigilante operates outside of due process and law, and it operates without any legal authority. Every citizen already has the authority to act reasonably in self-defense. Self-defense is not vigilante because a target of violence is legally entitled to make choices of lethal force if reasonably apprehensive of grave danger. The armed citizen does not take the law into their own hands – a rather meaningless concept; an average reasonable person is the law in the absence of police.

The third mistaken notion about the armed citizen is that they are vicious. A most common attribution hostile to the armed citizen is that the armed citizen is angry, and eager to shoot as the one and only solution. Smears that people solve their problems in anger abound. The reality is that having the upper hand – lethal force – in a violence encounter is life-saving millions of times every year. For anyone advocating a stop to the violence, it must begin where it is conducted the most, and that is at the moment it is committed so it cannot become a completed act.

This is the 2.5 million prevented acts Medicine will never see.

When a non-gun owner learns about how the second amendment is friendlier to the home and household than gun control will ever be, some become changed for the better. Some become more independent, and they change the community back to self-rule instead of being at the mercy of both thugs and the system.

Gun owners are not violent, since the vast majority of defensive gun uses successfully effected by an armed citizens de-escalate the incident such that a shooting becomes unnecessary. There’s your prevention. The fact that the target is armed with lethal force changes everything in favor of the household. It takes an out-of-control situation and brings it under the control of the target of violence.

As I say often, crime is fought best at the scene of the crime.

And finally, doctors are trained to view medical outcomes as a measure of success. When 2.5 million happier outcomes keep 5 million mayhems from building into a 7.5 million completed acts of violence, I’d say that’s a good outcome along the lines of precisely what Medicine is looking for. Survival. Quality of life.

Identifying ‘guns’ as a health problem averts the eyes and mind away from the health equity’s preventative powers of the armed citizen; gun control oversteps boundaries, forcing people to act to their own detriment. Denying individual personal safety is the equivalent of intentionally delaying medical care. It affects outcomes adversely.

I wish I could make this article worth 30 CME’s [Continuing Medical Education Credits], but you get the point.

If we’re really going to talk about a health equity and a health problem, the solution is public education. Through education of the laity, the ubiquitous armed citizen as the norm can drive the number of 5 million mayhems even further down in reducing the morbidity and mortality of violence for even better societal outcomes.

You can even think of the ubiquitous armed citizen as the community’s immune system. .. if Americans start thinking of violence as a health problem, a preventable health problem.


In 1979, selected medical professionals convinced physicians and attorneys why they should get behind the movement to train millions of laymen in Citizen CPR. The CPR Corollary is the case study of how those initial objections to training millions of average people are identical to today’s objections to the ubiquitous armed citizen. America has already had her national conversation on guns and the armed citizen when she had her national conversation on what to do in the absence of Paramedics.

Download your free copy of the author’s monograph here.

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