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, March 26, 2014

Bullets are bad for your health

Thanks to the Brady Campaign for this image. (found on the Brady Campaign Facebook page) It's time for our politicians to stand up for common sense and victims instead of for the corporate gun lobby. If gun violence isn't a health care issue, what is? The health care providers of this country understand that their job is to provide information about health and potential risks to health to their patients. And that is what they do. But the gun lobby wants to interfere with the professional opinions and expertise of health care providers. The arrogance of the gun lobby is striking. Their latest baloney is attacking President Obama's nominee for Surgeon General under the guise of gun rights. From the article:
"Mr. Murthy is a Yale-trained physician, an instructor at Boston’s prestigious Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a health technology entrepreneur. As Mr. Obama’s nominee for surgeon general, it’s also no shock that he supports a variety of the president’s policies, including on gun control. Among his sins, the NRA explained in a letter to Senate leaders, is past support for meek gun regulations such as licensing and waiting periods. He also once dared to claim that “guns are a health care issue,” a fact that any doctor with experience in the emergency room knows well. Mr. Murthy, the NRA fumed, would remove the ban on physicians asking patients whether they keep guns in the home and lift restrictions on gun death research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
All of those ideas sound pretty modest to us. Even if they weren’t, they don’t provide any pretext to oppose Mr. Murthy’s confirmation, since he would not be in a position to set firearms policy as surgeon general. The fact that he’s right just makes the insult worse."
Doctors have been asking patients questions about their health and safety for decades and more. That's what they do. Why? Because it's their job. But now the NRA lobbyists and leaders have decided they know more about this than the health care providers. Such arrogance and bullying should alarm us all. But that doesn't stop a group of people, a minority of Americans at that, from trying to stop common sense discussions about the causes and effects of gun violence. They don't want American citizens to know the truth of the matter. Americans are killed in large numbers by unsecured guns in homes. Children most especially. If you read this blog, you know how often I write about incidents of children finding loaded guns in their homes and shooting someone- sometimes themselves. You can read about yet another one, below. This is irresponsible gun ownership. Perhaps if some of these parents had received and heeded advice from their pediatrician or family doctor, they would think twice about how to secure their guns.

Ignorance is no excuse. "Accidental" shootings are avoidable and preventable but gun owners apparently aren't getting the right advice about the dangers of unsecured guns in their homes. Because we can be darned sure that the gun rights organizations aren't going to tell them these stories. When the main interest is in selling guns, why tell potential customers how dangerous they actually are? Maybe they won't buy one. Cigarette manufacturers have been ordered to place a warning about the dangers to health on their packages. Why? Because we all know that smoking can be bad for your health and cigarette companies were ordered to put these warnings on their products by the government. It was the Surgeon General in 1964 who did the studies about the dangers of smoking to health that led to the required warnings on cigarette packages. From the linked article:
The report highlighted the deleterious health consequences of tobacco use. Smoking and Health: Report of the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General held cigarette smoking responsible for a 70 percent increase in the mortality rate of smokers over non-smokers. The report estimated that average smokers had a nine- to ten-fold risk of developing lung cancer compared to non-smokers: heavy smokers had at least a twenty-fold risk. The risk rose with the duration of smoking and diminished with the cessation of smoking. The report also named smoking as the most important cause of chronic bronchitis and pointed to a correlation between smoking and emphysema, and smoking and coronary heart disease. It noted that smoking during pregnancy reduced the average weight of newborns. On one issue the committee hedged: nicotine addiction. It insisted that the "tobacco habit should be characterized as an habituation rather than an addiction," in part because the addictive properties of nicotine were not yet fully understood, in part because of differences over the meaning of addiction.
The 1964 report on smoking and health had an impact on public attitudes and policy. A Gallup Survey conducted in 1958 found that only 44 percent of Americans believed smoking caused cancer, while 78 percent believed so by 1968. In the course of a decade, it had become common knowledge that smoking damaged health, and mounting evidence of health risks gave Terry's 1964 report public resonance. Yet, while the report proclaimed that "cigarette smoking is a health hazard of sufficient importance in the United States to warrant appropriate remedial action," it remained silent on concrete remedies. That challenge fell to politicians. In 1965, Congress required all cigarette packages distributed in the United States to carry a health warning, and since 1970 this warning is made in the name of the Surgeon General. In 1969, cigarette advertising on television and radio was banned, effective September 1970.
It was the responsible and right thing to do. Congress rose to the challenge in the name of public health and saving lives. Is there something wrong with that? Our current Congress could do the same and we need to demand that they do.

Apparently the gun lobby sees public health through a different lens. In Ohio, for example, a bill to require gun owners to safely secure their guns is not going anywhere. Odd, isn't it, that when a bill is proposed to save lives, the corporate gun lobby rears up and stands in the way? From an article about the bill in Ohio:
A sensible safe-storage measure sponsored by state Rep. Bill Patmon, a Cleveland Democrat, still sits in committee, where it has languished for more than a year. House Bill 31 would prohibit gun owners from leaving a firearm around the house that isn’t safely stored or locked by a safety device, if they have reason to believe a minor could get hold of it.
More than half the states have similar laws. So should Ohio.
Such laws have reduced accidental shootings of children by as much as 23 percent, the Children’s Defense Fund of Ohio says. It studied eight states with child access prevention laws and found that between 1999 and 2006, they had less than half the average death rate for accidental shootings among children.
Saving lives is a good reason for this simple law, despite the nonsense espoused by gun-rights advocates that it would unduly delay a shooter’s access to his or her weapon. It’s clear this law would have saved dozens of lives. By contrast, there is no evidence in Ohio that taking extra seconds to gain access to a gun in the house has caused anyone’s death or injury, especially with touch-access safes and readily available trigger locks.
National studies have shown what we all know: Many young people live in homes where they have unfettered access to guns. In Ohio, the Department of Youth Services in 2012 reported 229 juveniles in its custody with firearms involved in a criminal offense.
Bullets are bad for the health of our children and teens. They are bad for the health of adults as well, as I write about all too often on this blog. Just today, I ran across yet another incident of a child shooting another child with an unsecured gun in a home. This South Dakota story is becoming an unacceptable and tragic norm:
According to Hutchinson County State’s Attorney Glenn Roth, the 9-year-old was interviewed by investigators with the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation after the shooting.
Roth said the 9-year-old told investigators that he and his 7-year-old brother were playing with a handgun when he pulled the trigger, thinking the gun was not loaded, and unintentionally shot the 7-year-old.
The 7 year old died of the gunshot injuries. Senseless and avoidable.

Guns are a risk to children and adults alike. If health care providers cannot talk about these risks, what kind of society are we? What is wrong with a corporate gun lobby that doesn't want to save the lives of children and American citizens? Our system is so skewed in favor of gun rights over the rights of the rest of us to be safe from gun violence that the NRA may be allowed to influence the confirmation of the Surgeon General. This is baloney. Let's take a look at another article about the Surgeon General nomination from Bill Moyers:
With public health professionals engaging more forcefully on the gun issue, the NRA has a pressing interest in muting their calls for stronger policy. Really, the campaign against Murthy is the continuation of a longstanding effort to make discussion of gun violence taboo. For years the NRA has worked to bury information about gun violence and its public health implications. The NRA has campaigned successfully to ban registries that collect data on guns used in crimes and in 1996 the group fought for and won legislation that froze federal funding for research on gun violence. Although Obama lifted the restriction last year in the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings, there’s still very little money — federal and private — for gun research and not enough data, said David Hemenway, an expert on injury at the Harvard School of Public Health.
On the local level, the NRA has tried to bar pediatricians from counseling parents about the risks of keeping guns at home. The American Association of Pediatrics recommends that doctors begin to talk to parents about gun safety even before their baby is born and continue the conversation yearly, just as doctors talk to parents about the dangers of swimming pools and the importance of bicycle helmets. Florida passed a gag law in 2011; crafted by an NRA lobbyist, the bill forbids doctors from “making written inquiry or asking questions concerning the ownership of a firearm or ammunition by the patient or by a family member of the patient.” A district court ruled the following year that the law restricted physicians’ rights to free speech and the case is now in the appeals process. Murthy’s opposition to pediatrician gag laws was one of the reasons cited by the NRA and Rand Paul in their attempt to disqualify him.
When she ordered a permanent injunction against the Florida law in 2012, District Judge Marcia Cooke wrote that the law “in no way affects [Second Amendment] rights” and instead “aims to restrict a practitioner’s ability to provide truthful, non-misleading information to a patient.” The same can be said of the NRA’s objection to the Surgeon General nominee, who won’t be involved in crafting gun policy. The threat to the NRA is that the surgeon general will merely talk about gun violence, in fulfilling his or her duty to provide the public with “the best scientific information available on how to improve their health and reduce their risk of illness and injury.”
While the NRA’s political clout comes from its individual members, the group serves the agenda of gun industry. What’s really going on with Murthy’s confirmation is that an industry group is trying to keep the government from regulating its products. This isn’t a new battle: the tobacco industry fought it, as have many other industries with financial interests in evading health and safety regulations.
What’s really going on with Murthy’s confirmation is that an industry group is trying to keep the government from regulating its products.
“Most industries try to protect themselves — the less regulation the better, the less oversight the better. They want to pursue their sales,” said Hemenway. “I think it’s almost time for a surgeon general statement about guns, like we had with cigarettes and cancer, particularly about guns and suicide.”
There's a lot more in this article of interest that reveals the true agenda of the gun industry and gun lobbyists in this "debate." It should alarm Americans to find out that important public health decisions are being made by a powerful industry lobbying group rather than by the people who practice health care.

This is not who we should be. We are better than this. So if you're with me, please let your Senators know that voting against Dr. Vivek Murthy is not OK. Common sense needs to prevail if we truly care about our public health and safety epidemic. It's time for a change. Let's get to work.


You can take action and not just read about the problem. This petition already has over 88,000 signatures. That shows that the public does not like the agenda of the NRA. Please sign it. Thank you.

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