FARIA: Firearm ownership, violence, and public health

Despite the U.S. congressional ban on the use of taxpayers’ money to fund gun research, encouraged by Obama’s presidential executive order to the contrary, public health researchers have gone ahead publishing gun control propaganda masquerading as “gun research.” Recently, the John Hopkins School of Public Health announced that given the number of recent shootings, including the infamous Chattanooga, Tennessee, incident, that it will resume conducting “gun research.”

A recent paper published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine begins by listing the usual frightening statistics of gun homicides in the U.S. with the usual obligatory comparison with other “industrialized nations” (mostly Europe), neglecting world demographics, migrations, socioeconomics, history and geography, which brings to mind our next door neighbor Mexico, as well as Brazil and most of the Western Hemisphere, not to mention far away Russia and much of the world.

Considering history and geopolitics, it may be worth mentioning that what has been termed “America’s gun culture” helped to liberate Europeans from the Nazis during World War II, and subsequently for decades protected all of indulgent and effete Western Europe from the menacing Soviet Red Army and the threat of Soviet tanks from rolling and overrunning the European landscape during the Cold War.

Typical of the public health literature on guns, other societal causes are remotely considered for the increase in violence, such as the decline in education, the influence of the popular culture, TV violence, increasing rates of single parenthood and broken families, drug trafficking and gang-related violence, permissive criminal justice system, government dependence and the general state of alienation fostered by the welfare state.

Wisely, Congress in 1997, after carefully studying the issue, defunded and thereafter wisely refused to resume funding “gun research” -- or rather gun control propaganda masquerading as gun violence research. Independent investigators have provided Congress over the years with truckloads of evidence that much of the gun research conducted by public health investigators was junk science, biased research promulgated by the ideologically committed as well as self-serving public health officials in cahoots with the very public relations-conscious leaders of the AMA and “organized medicine.”

Although ignored by the media, the number of private firearms in the U.S. has in fact increased from approximately 200 million in 1995 to 300 million in 2012 with a concomitant steady decrease in gun crimes from 1990 to the present. The problem then is not about states that have the most guns but with irresponsible gun ownership and the proportion of guns in the hands of criminal elements because of our broken, revolving door criminal justice and mental health systems, not to mention an overall deteriorating moral value system.

Miguel A. Faria M.D., served as a member of the Injury Research Grant Review Committee of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2002-2005.