Maggie Fox must think we pediatricians are quaking in our shoes:
To pediatricians, gun control is a public health issue, not a political one. But they’re treading a fine line, and they know it.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has begun a renewed push to try to get Congress to pass gun control measures, sending more than 100 pediatricians to Capitol Hill earlier this month. But others who have taken on the issue over the past decade have a warning for them: they can run afoul of the National Rifle Association and other pro-gun groups that are quick to paint anyone who advocates for gun control as a political extremist.
So what! Most (but not all) pediatricians are afraid of what people do with guns, and what guns do to people. But they’re not afraid of the NRA. No one should be. The worst that can happen is the NRA will disagree. They may make arguments that make us uncomfortable — because some of their points may be valid and some are clinically delusional and paranoid. But if you take the NRA at its word — that its membership is made up of USA-loving, law-abiding citizens — then fearing the NRA is paranoid as well. It’s not like they are going to disagree with you AND shoot you, right?
Most (but not all) pediatricians believe — as do 90% of surveyed Americans — that Congress should improve laws regarding background checks. Most pediatricians (not all), like most Americans (not all) want more done:
What the doctors want is an assault weapon ban, mandatory background checks and waiting periods before all firearm purchases, a ban on high-capacity magazines, handgun regulations and requirements for safe firearm storage under federal law.
Most of us also want scientists to be allowed to do evidence-based research regarding gun violence in America. (Current legislation, supported by the NRA, limits that.) We want to be able to discuss gun safety with families at office visits. (Half-a-dozen states want to prohibit doctors from this act of appropriate anticipatory guidance.)
And then, there’s this:
Founded by the pro-gun-ownership Second Amendment Foundation, DRGO says the the AAP and the American Medical Association are “motivated by deep-seated prejudice against gun owners.” “DRGO’s mission is to expose the poor medical scholarship — and the anti-gun bias behind it — held out as truth by organized medicine and medical journalism,” the group says.
Sorry. They can’t have it both ways. You can’t criticize the quality of “medical scholarship” when you prohibit scientific inquiry into the matter. And you can’t say that doctors “are motivated by a deep-seated prejudice against gun owners” in one breath, while saying: “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people” in the next. Bias against guns, absolutely. Prejudiced about crazy or violent people with guns, yes indeed. Bias against law-abiding citizens who own guns? Nope.
Pediatricians shouldn’t be afraid of advocating for what is right for the children we care for. I think parents want their pediatricians to advocate for the best interests of their children, and to be passionate about it. Even parents who are members of the NRA.
More on The PediaBlog on gun safety here, here, here, here, and here.