Let me warn you that today’s column is longer than my usual 600–700 words. So, I hope you will set aside a bit of time to read the entire thing and spend a moment reflecting on what it says.
Before I get into the specifics, I want to say that on at least two occasions, I had the great fortune to be able to talk candidly and completely with skilled and responsive physicians about disquieting medical symptoms which were affecting me and one of my kids. I couldn’t have gotten this kind of advice and foreknowledge from anyone else, and I will never (read: never) join with any of those shitheads, including a former President, who rant and rave about the ‘fraud’ of modern medicine or how immunizations should all be banned.
However, I also believe that if doctors are going to deliver remedies to medical risks, then they need to understand what those risks really involve, and in the case of gun risk, doctors don’t know enough about guns to promote themselves as the professionals whose beliefs and treatments should be accepted in that regard.
I refer to an article which just appeared in a medical journal, “Firearm Screening and Counseling in General Medicine Primary Care Clinics at an Academic Medical Center” and can be downloaded here. The article’s authors asked 109 medical providers in 10 Michigan clinic sites to answer questions about counseling patients on gun risk and found “a generalized resistance from patients and providers alike to discuss firearm safety,” which is similar to other, similar studies on gun counseling conducted over the past years.
For guidance in creating this survey, these researchers cite an article published by one of the gurus of gun violence prevention, Garen Wintemute, along with several other alleged gun violence experts, an article which has become the non plus ultra resource for helping doctors learn how to talk about guns, and you can download that article here.
How do Wintemute and his colleagues advise physicians to counsel patients about guns? First, they present an ‘epidemiology’ of gun risk, which is totally based on the demographics of people who are shot with guns. Now I’m not an M.D., I’m only a lowly Ph.D., but I always thought that epidemiology is a method which is…