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The Dark Knight has a lot of problems with you NRA people


In a move that's likely to lead to a wholesale boycott of doctors by the NRA, the American Medical Association announced Wednesday that it intends to take further steps to treat gun violence as a Public Health issue. You know, because doctors are freedom-hating commies:

Days after the deadly mass shooting in Orlando, Fla., the American Medical Association says it is adopting a policy calling gun violence in the U.S. "a public health crisis" and it says it will actively lobby Congress to overturn 20-year-old legislation blocking research on gun violence by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Even as America faces a crisis unrivaled in any other developed country, the Congress prohibits the CDC from conducting the very research that would help us understand the problems associated with gun violence and determine how to reduce the high rate of firearm-related deaths and injuries," AMA President Steven J. Sack said in a statement.

The gun lobby has actually hated the AMA since forever, or at least the 1980s when it first started talking about guns as being somehow unhealthy for children and other living things. A 2013 AMA policy statement said the organization

recognizes that uncontrolled ownership and use of firearms, especially handguns, is a serious threat to the public's health inasmuch as the weapons are one of the main causes of intentional and unintentional injuries and deaths.

On the state level, the NRA's war on the AMA has resulted in idiocies like Florida's "Docs vs Glocks" law, which prohibits doctors from asking patients if they have a gun in their home, since if doctors ask that, the answer will go into the patient's medical record, and that amounts to a covert gun registry list, no really they actually argue that! Also, since accidental drownings are more likely to kill children than guns are and the American Academy of Pediatrics warns parents they should never have a gun in the home but doesn't warn parents they should never let their children swim, doctors shouldn't ask about guns at all because it creates distrust in the vital doctor-patient relationship. Even so, the Swimming Pool Lobby hasn't tried to pass a law banning doctors from talking to parents about pool safety. (This is your cue, gun-humpers, to yell "swimming isn't in the Constitution!!!!!")

Even weirder? Florida's law, which sure as hell sounds like a prior restraint on doctors' free speech, was upheld on appeal as a protection of patients' right to privacy. So doctors aren't allowed to even ask patients whether they own a gun, and if so, do they store it safely, or leave it loaded on a nightstand. So it turns out that the Second Amendment isn't merely the one that protects all the others; it's also the one that overrides the First Amendment, hooray.

At the federal level, one of the NRA's more infuriating lobbying successes of the past couple decades was its 1996 victory in convincing Congress to ban funding of any research that might be used to endorse limitations on gun ownership. The author of the 1996 ban, former Rep. Jay Dickey of Arkansas, told NPR last fall that he never intended his little old bill to bring all research on guns to a halt, and he feels just awful about it, sort of. You see, all he meant was for the CDC to not spend any research dollars that would "go to gun control advocacy."

Steve Inskeep: Did you intend to cut off all research on the effects of guns or gun ownership in society?

Dickey: We didn't think about that. It turned out that that's what happened, but it wasn't aimed at that. And it wasn't necessary that all research stop. It just couldn't be the collection of data so that they can advocate gun control. That's all we were talking about. But for some reason, it just stopped altogether.

Inskeep: Why do you think that was?

Dickey: I don't know, but that's where my regret is [...] I didn't follow through and say, we need -- still need to do research. I didn't do that.

We think we see where that good intention went wrong: Researchers can't say before they've done their research what their results will be. That is how research works! They usually have some idea, but sometimes the results surprise them. Even a researcher who hoped to find out how many gun owners protect themselves with a gun might end up with results that favor gun control. For instance, they might determine, as several other studies have, that having a gun in the home is correlated with higher risk of suicide or homicide. So rather than risk that funding bite, the obvious result is that the CDC won't research guns. Which is exactly what the NRA wanted, thank you.

Like a big old tyrant, Barack Obama went and executive-ordered the CDC to begin doing research again into "assessing the causes of gun violence ... subject to the availability of appropriations." That last phrase turned out to be a biggie, considering the current composition of Congress. Even after the executive order, the CDC remained unwilling to do gun studies, given the capriciousness of congressional funding. And wouldn't you know it, the CDC told the Washington Post that while it would just love to start doing what the president ordered, the money hasn't been appropriated. Obama administration budget requests have asked for $10 million to be dedicated to funding CDC research on guns; the House has passed exactly $0 of that. Sorry, should we have warned you to sit down before that news?

So now that the AMA is renewing its call for funding to be dedicated to CDC research on the public health impact of guns, we have little doubt things will quickly move forward. For instance, we bet the NRA is already organizing phone banks and filming TV ads to oppose the proposal.

[National Public Radio / NYT / Forbes / Atlantic / WaPo / CBS / NPR again]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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