The events of that era are documented in my three-part historical series, “The History of Public Health Gun Control,” at Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership’s website, drgo.us.
—Timothy Wheeler, MD
Director, Doctors for Responsible
Gun Ownership, California
In ACEP Now’s July 15 gun control debate, you asked whether ACEP and, by implication, any other medical organization should become involved in questions regarding the Second Amendment to the Constitution. We should, without a doubt.
As an emergency medicine physician, sworn law enforcement officer, retired Navy Medical Corps captain, and firearm trainer with multiple certifications from the National Rifle Association and the Massad Ayoob Group, I am extraordinarily qualified to comment on this subject.
As physicians, we bear extraordinary privileges and responsibilities not only because of what we do but also because we are Americans. All American physicians (and we are the American College of Emergency Physicians) should stand behind all of the amendments to the Constitution, especially the Second Amendment, without which none of the others are enforceable. The first 10 amendments to the Constitution are called the Bill of Rights. Those amendments are actually a Bill of Restraints on the federal government. History teaches us that without them we would not have had the Constitution and likely not a country. Now we are engaged in a great civil discussion regarding the nature and culture of our country. On one side are those who believe that it is the province of the federal government to control and provide for all actions and resources within our society. Those on the other side of the discussion maintain that although there are some constraints upon individual and group actions, progress has been made more by individuals, and freeing the people to make progress yields more liberty. It is ludicrous that some are trying to prohibit citizens from owning the very firearms that our police use to protect us—pistols and rifles with a modern design. Yet we know that the police are rarely on the scene when desperately needed. Therefore, since it is natural instinct for all animals, including Homo sapiens, to defend themselves and their young, it seems only fitting that the people have access to the same firearms that we expect our police to use to defend and protect us. Statistics can be twisted, but I have yet to find a study that produces significant evidence of crime going up as firearm ownership and use have increased in the United States. We also find studies that show that in countries that have recently restricted firearms, rates of violence have not trended up. The exception is the United Kingdom, specifically Britain, where criminal violence has increased dramatically since civilians were disarmed.