By Dov Michaeli

Here are a few snippets from today’s article in the NYT (1/14/11) A Clamor for Gun Limits, but Few Expect Real Changes.

“I really do believe that this time it could be different,” said Paul Helmke, executive director of the The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

These people are dreamers. Even if true, as several polls on gun limits have shown in the past, have you seen any political response? Of course not. The almighty NRA has presented our representatives with an offer they can’t refuse: Tow the line or we’ll target you, politically speaking, I hope. Representative Carolyn McCarthy, Democrat of New York, who was elected in 1996 largely on a gun control platform after her husband was killed and son injured by a gunman is much more realistic. She introduced legislation that would limit the size of magazine rounds in order to just limit the carnage, mind you, not eliminate it; it didn’t even get a hearing. “Listen, any kind of bill the N.R.A. is against is always a problem”, she said.

Asked about prospects for new gun restrictions, Representative Mike Pence, Republican of Indiana, asserted, “I maintain that firearms in the hands of law-abiding citizens makes communities safer, not less safe.”

Really? The gun advocates repeat this mantra ad nauseam. Where is the evidence? They repeat this nonsense based on a thoroughly debunked paper that for the sake of not being polarizing I won’t call it “junk science”. A 1993 paper in the New England Journal of Medicine by Arthur L. Kellermann and his colleagues (Gun Ownership as a Risk Factor for Homicide in the Home) showed exactly the opposite: guns “in the hands of law abiding citizens” result in more, not less, deaths and injuries.

The very logic of “more guns, less violence” is a hybrid of Alice in Wonderland and George Orwell’s 1984. Just consider: we have 20 fold higher gun violence than other developed countries with strict gun control laws, 40 fold higher among teenagers. Faced with these facts, is the obvious conclusion “more guns, less violence”? Consider: If we had an outbreak of a cholera epidemic in our country –would we try to limit the spread of the pathogen with better sanitation and antibiotics, or would we spread more of the pathogen in the hope that eventually the epidemic would be stopped by a buildup of immunity? Anybody advocating such a solution to a public health crisis would not be taken seriously. Yet, ostensibly rational people subscribe to it when it comes to firearms. Go figure.

Why don’t our politicians state these facts repeatedly? That’s how you create public awareness. That is what leadership is all about. Instead, the public is being bamboozled by the Big Lie propaganda and no political leader has the guts to stand up and refute it.

Now, consider the following truly revelatory statement:

Erich Pratt, the director of communications for Gun Owners of America said his organization and others were girding for at least a skirmish in Congress. “But I think after the November election it’s going to be very tough for Carolyn McCarthy and even the Peter Kings,” he said “Why should the government be in the business of telling us how we can defend ourselves?”

Mr. Pratt added: “These politicians need to remember that these rights aren’t given to us by them. They come from God. They are God-given rights. They can’t be infringed or limited in any way. What are they going to do: limit it two or three rounds. Having lots of ammunition is critical, especially if the police are not around and you need to be able to defend yourself against mobs.”

When I hear people arrogating God to their cause it scares the bejesus out of me, and I am sure it does Him as well. God is invoked by the Taliban, by the Army of the Lord in the Congo, by ultra orthodox settlers in the West Bank, by Hamas and Hezbolla (which translates to, you guessed it, The Army of God). We have already learned what these people are capable of.

Erich Pratt doesn’t just evoke God to protect his right to carry a Glock; he needs a lot of ammunition to “stand up to a mob”. Here is a prime example of defining deviancy down; it started out as protecting the legitimate rights of hunters. Assault weapons were obviously an overkill for hunting Bambi –so the argument changed to self-defense against intruders. It now escalates to shooting a threatening mob. What’s next? An anti- aircraft missile to shoot down tyrannical government helicopters?

There are many people who need psychiatric help, not only Jared Loughner of Arizona. A good start would be with Mr. Pratt, Director of Communication for Gun Owners of America.

I have to confess that I have nothing against licensed gun ownership for hunting, target-shooting, or for self-defense in isolated farmhouses. But statements like Mr. Pratt’s border on paranoid schizophrenia. And these people, as we learned in Tucson, are dangerous.

Dov Michaeli, MD, PhD
Dov Michaeli, MD, PhD loves to write about the brain and human behavior as well as translate complicated basic science concepts into entertainment for the rest of us. He was a professor at the University of California San Francisco before leaving to enter the world of biotech. He served as the Chief Medical Officer of biotech companies, including Aphton Corporation. He also founded and served as the CEO of Madah Medica, an early stage biotech company developing products to improve post-surgical pain control. He is now retired and enjoys working out, following the stock market, travelling the world, and, of course, writing for TDWI.

3 COMMENTS

  1. After steadily dropping for 25 years, Australian armed robberies rose 44% in the year following the disarming of its citizens. Homicide rates, assaults, and home invasions are all up. (verified by Snopes) Taking guns away from law abiding citizens just makes them vulnerable to the lawless who aren’t going to follow the gun laws anyway. It is easy to say that countries like England have lower gun related incidents than we do. Well, they don’t have an ALREADY armed criminal element. How do you propose to get the guns out of the hands of those causing the mayhem? Have you looked at their knife related incidents, much higher than ours per capita? Bad guys will use what they can. Have you ever needed a gun? I have, and my gun saved my life and the life of my unborn child when I was attacked. Bet that piece of crap never thought a pregnant woman would be packing heat. I had a gun, and I used it when I had to. I will fight tooth and nail to keep that right.

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