- - Monday, April 18, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Owning a firearm is a personal choice and right afforded to us by the Second Amendment, not a symptom of a disease.

Some doctors have joined the crusade to impose greater restrictions on firearms in this country under the guise of public health. Why? Patients who own firearms, they assert, must have a predilection to act violently and dangerously toward children and others.

Instead of getting triggered by law-abiding gun owners who pose no immediate threat to the public, why don’t these doctors focus their efforts on actual medical issues?

There are two recent instances affirming this dangerous trend. One instance involves doctors requiring patients with children to confess gun ownership to them, while the other instance involves medical professionals lobbying the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to conduct studies favorable to gun control.

The first case relates to an April 1 column in The Washington Post by two female pediatricians suggesting doctors have the right to pry into the affairs of families with guns in the name of “public safety.” What’s their reasoning? Parents with guns are less likely to know how to protect their children from danger, which is a laughable claim. They also wrote how violating patient privacy is within medical protocol if it can reduce gun violence.

The two doctors also expressed immense doubt in laws like Florida’s Firearm Owners Privacy Act (2011), which prohibits doctors from counseling patients on gun safety during routine appointments and checkups. They argued such a law violates doctors’ speech. Citing protocol as an impetus for lecturing patients on so-called gun safety, the pediatricians wrote: “Gun safety is no different from any of these topics. Comprehensive numbers on gun accidents are hard to come by, in part because National Rifle Association lobbying and limited funding has deterred the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from conducting firearm research.”

Since law-abiding gun owners are generally healthy and pose no direct threat to public safety, these doctors have no business meddling into their affairs. Patients have the right to not divulge information related to gun ownership. How can a doctor with a malicious disarmament agenda lecture responsible, educated gun owners on true gun safety if he or she isn’t familiar with it? They have no business abusing doctor privileges, let alone putting patients in uncomfortable situations.

The second case involves some doctors in bed with special interests desiring to push studies through the CDC to influence, shape and encourage gun control policies.

Over 100 medical groups comprising more than 1 million individuals have demanded the CDC lift the current ban on the study of gun violence. They demand urgent action on this citing the so-called “serious public health” risk firearms pose to this country. They collectively issued a letter calling on this federal entity to have such a study included in Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) funding for fiscal 2016 and 2017.

The reason for the absence of so-called gun violence research at the CDC, even under the Obama administration, is largely attributed to the Dickey Amendment. Named after former Rep. Jay Dickey — who now opposes the ban — the Dickey Amendment was a rider attached to a 1996 bill that forbids the CDC from using funds to “advocate or promote gun control.” It is perceived as an absolute prohibition on the study of gun violence — a move that should stay in place.

The CDC is a federal agency under the duress of the Department of Health and Human Services tasked with fighting diseases that “start at home or abroad, are chronic or acute, curable or preventable, human error or deliberate attack,” its website says. How does gun safety fit into the CDC’s mission? It doesn’t, since gun use isn’t a disease or an illness. Rather, it’s a personal choice and inalienable right afforded to us by the U.S. Constitution.

In both of these instances, doctors beholden to the gun control lobby are pushing an agenda that’s unbecoming of their profession. Why can’t these doctors concern themselves with reforming mental health policies? The government fails to enforce the current laws in place, while some doctors have been complicit in failing to identify individuals who pose a great threat to society. Instead of politicizing their profession, doctors must exude professionalism and not improperly diagnose law-abiding gun owners.

Much to the chagrin of these particular doctors, the decision to handle and purchase firearms comes out of a place of sanity, not insanity. Self-defense isn’t an infectious or airborne disease; it’s a rational, personal, empowering choice.

Gabriella Hoffman is a young conservative columnist and blogger based in Northern Virginia.

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