Vol. 84 February 15, 2013 Let’s Treat Gun Owners Like Doctors

hubThe number of physicians in the U.S.:  700,000.
Accidental deaths caused by Physicians per year:  120,000.
Accidental deaths per physician:   0.171%
.                                  U.S. Dept. Of Health and Human Services

Number of gun owners in the U.S.:   80,000,000  (Yes, that’s 80 million)
Number of accidental* gun deaths per year: 1,500.
Number of accidental* deaths per gun owner:   0.0000188 %
.                                   Statistics from  FBI
So, statistically, doctors are approximately 9,000 times more dangerous than gun owners .- a popular internet 2011 chestnut

* “Accidental” excludes homicides and suicides. If you count those the number of gun deaths is about 30,000 per year. Between 2003 and 2007 15,000 of those gun deaths were children 19 or younger. (That is about twice the number of children deaths in motor vehicle accidents.) In 2010 there were 6750 U.S. gun deaths among 1-24 year olds. (Twice as many deaths as cancer, 5 times as many as heart disease, and 15 times as many as infectious disease for this age group)

The gun owners I know are very responsible about gun safety. Why make them “pay” for the transgressions of a few with stricter enforcement of regulations and/or creation of new ones?  Why not! We do it to physicians!

In response to a million dollar Medicare scam in Florida that billed sham patients for sham home care services Congress passed a law requiring that EVERY physician had to attest that he or she had met the patient “Face to Face” (F2F) within 30 days of ordering home care services.  Fraudulent actions by less than 0.001% of physicians have burdened all of them with a duplicative, clinically irrelevant, non-reimbursed reporting requirement that is of no use to patient, physician, or home care agency. No big deal you might think, but in reality the absence of the F2F report has delayed millions of dollars of Medicare reimbursement to all certified home care agencies throughout the nation. Hm-m, maybe that was the real reason the law was passed?

In response to “just a few deaths” from automatic weapons in the hands of less than 0.01% of gun owners why shouldn’t we pass some laws to improve gun safety.  Well, we apparently have; about 20,000 of them; laws that is, not gun owners. One problem is that they are not enforced.  The chief enforcement agency, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) of the Department of Justice is hobbled… restricted… dare we say “castrated” … as Jon Stewart has.

The ATF, THE federal agency overseeing firearms:

is prohibited from establishing a registry of gun owners (imagine no one keeping a registry of car ownersis prohibited from requiring gun dealers to maintain inventories of their wares

is prohibited from inspecting any gun dealer’s records more than once a year

is prohibited from revealing firearms trace data to anyone other than law enforcement personnel (firearm tracing is done for  firearms used in crimes. One study showed that 57% of guns used in crimes in one state were traced to only 1% of gun dealers.)

is prohibited from requiring gun dealers to respond to police inquiries.

Who made these rules?  Rep. (former) Todd Tiahrt (R-Kansas) put them deep into a 2006 spending bill. The Tiahrt Amendment, as it has become to be known, also permits gun dealers to destroy gun registration applications within 24 hours of completion so as “to avoid any inadvertent errors from being promulgated.”

Why doesn’t the ATF Director complain? Another Congressman, who was the winner of the NRA Defender of Freedom Award for that year, inserted into the 2006 Patriot Act the requirement that the ATF Director ( a mere Bureau chief)  be subject to Senate confirmation; the only Bureau Chief with that requirement. Senate has never done it.  The current part-time ATF Director is a Prosecutor from Minnesota.

Why are Federal laws needed? Massachusetts has some of the most comprehensive gun laws and in 2009 had one of the lowest per capita gun deaths in the country, BUT…in 2011 366 of the 699 guns used in crimes in Massachusetts were traced to sales in other states. One-third of them (133) were bought in New Hampshire and used in Massachusetts.

So we may not need any more laws or regulations for gun safety. We could just repeal the one “Tiahrt Amendment”, and let the ATF begin to do its job
… but maybe physicians should hire the NRA lobbyists to push for repeal of the F2F regulations.

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