Welcome to Common Gunsense

I hope this blog will provoke some thoughtful reflection about the issue of guns and gun violence. I am passionate about the issue and would love to change some misperceptions and the culture of gun violence in America by sharing with readers words, photos, videos and clips from articles to promote common sense about gun issues. Many of you will agree with me- some will not. I am only one person but one among many who think it's time to do something about this national problem. The views expressed by me in this blog do not represent any group with which I am associated but are rather my own personal opinions and thoughts.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Guns and health care

Several weeks ago, I asked this question: How could a man's gun just "go off" in the emergency room of a hospital and end up injuring 6 innocent people?  Why is a gun needed in a hospital? Couldn't this man read the signs that say no guns allowed? I guess when you are paranoid about needing a gun everywhere you go, public safety signs posted don't apply to you. So let's talk about guns and the health care system since accidental shootings are now occurring where health care is provided.

Physicians are generally opposed to loaded guns in homes because they are the ones who see the bodies and treat the injuries. They also see the children who are accidentally shot in homes or homes of friends either by finding a parent's loaded gun and playing with it until it goes off, shooting a sibling or friend, or shooting themselves while "playing" with a loaded gun. A video made by a local advertising firm for the Protect Minnesota campaign effectively and dramatically shows how easily kids can find loaded guns in homes. The medical community knows that a gun in the home is much more likely to be used by or against someone in the home than for self defense. See this chart, from the article linked below. It clearly shows the difference between homicides by handgun and homicides by private citizens used in self defense. The comparison is stark. I have a friend whose son was killed when a boy he was with shot off a gun accidentally.  A man who has chosen to be a part of our Minnesota organization accidentally shot and killed a friend. Both men are now working to prevent this from happening to others. The pain is felt not only by the families and friends of the victims but also by those who shoot someone accidentally.

Recent studies about guns show what most of us have long known. Gun deaths and injuries are expensive. They cost our helath care system more than $100 billion a year!! This article from the New England Journal of Medicine, recently published, points out both the cost to people's lives and to our system. The author, Julie Cantor, doctor and lawyer, has written about the obvious- too many lives lost; the Supreme Court decisions in Heller and McDonald don't address lives lost. But they also do not preclude reasonable legislation to stop the shootings. 

Do we care? Senator John Ensign ( R, Nevada) actually had the nerve to mention guns during the health care debate. Here is what he said on September 29th, 2009 : " "Are you aware that if you take out gun accidents and auto accidents, that the United States actually is better than those other countries?""  What? Is Senator Ensign admitting that the U.S. has too many gun and auto accidents compared to other countries? Is he also admitting that gun "accidents" cost our health care system a lot of money? It would seem so. If true, I wonder what he plans to do about this situation. My guess is- nothing. 

If we look at gun injuries and deaths from a health care perspective, we have to look at the truth. Doctors don't lie about what they know and what they see. Having been married to one for a long time has given me great respect for those who deal with sickness and death. As Dr. Cantor said in her article linked above, there will continue to 30,000 deaths to a gun in our country until we decide to do something to lower the number. That's what health care is all about; why are we not listening to the experts? But if we separate gun deaths and car accidents out of our health care debate for convenience' sake, as Senator Ensign ( an NRA supported Senator) attempted to do, then we can ignore the costs and the consequences. We must not let that happen. Lives depend on it.

1 comment:

  1. Modern guns don't just "go off" That guy was criminally negligent. As for guns in hospitals, I mind the time I was in a hospital a few years back with a collapsed lung, and tethered to the suction fixture on the wall with a chest tube. There were some right awkward-looking folks who came into my room, and I'm just talking about the hospital employees. I think I might have felt better having a piece handy, but of course there is no security and no privacy in a hospital room, and thus no place to keep a piece secure while asleep. I got out of that place just as soon as I could.

    I think of Ty Cobb, the great grumpy racist baseball player, and how he died at Emory University Hospital.

    He had enough gumption, even when dying, to insist on keeping a bottle of whiskey and a revolver by his bedside, and enough charisma that nobody disturbed either of them. He was not a nice guy, but he was a tough one. Yes, I admire him for that.