Government to Study Gun Control

In a very quiet development last month, the National Institute of Health (NIH) began studying gun violence after a 13 year ban on the topic.

In 1996 Congress stripped the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of its $2.6 million dollar annual funding for firearm injuries. The Bush administration continued this ban while in control of the agency.  At the time, Former Senate Majority leader Bob Dole and Former Senator Trent Lott argued gun related violence was not a public health concern and therefore not under the jurisdiction of the CDC.  Rather, they believed it was “driven by a social-policy agenda, [and] simply does not make sense.”

The public health community is in agreement that gun violence is a major concern to the health and safety of the public.  Injuries burden the health care delivery system and further crowd our nation’s emergency rooms.

Evidence has stacked up that lax gun control policies in this country have continued to contribute to horrific violence.  The recent killings at Fort Hood beg us to ask the question, how could such a mentally disturbed individual legally equip himself for these murders?  We should not forget that this isn’t the first time in recent history our country has been shocked by one man’s act of violence.  The Virginia Tech massacre showed how documented dangerous individuals could still purchase firearms.  Still this act of violence failed to renew the gun control debate. Additionally, the ease of buying and selling guns in America has dramatically increased violence in Mexico.

Thousands of innocent lives are taken by gun violence annually.  Completed suicides by firearms account for over half of all suicides in the U.S.  Why do individuals with the capacity to kill have ease purchasing weapons? If the answer is not control of guns but rather treatment of the mentally ill, shouldn’t we be able to ask the question?

In addition, a gun injury itself can force an individual to encounter all the problems in our health care delivery system that health care reform is trying to address: cost, quality and access. Hospital medical bills for doctor’s services and medical equipment show the need for improvements to control escalating cost in our health care system.  The high chance of hospital related infections in the wound indicate quality must be improved.  Finally, 1 out of every 6 Americans lack health insurance putting additional burdens on those seeking medical care after an injury.  The health care reform bills do not address gun violence, but improvements in these three areas could reduce the poor health outcomes associated with gun related violence.

The NIH is studying why gun violence occurs, not for political reasons, but in the interest of our health as a nation. Our country will become less violent and healthier if we are able to stop gun violence before abhorrent acts of violence take place.

By Emma Sandoe

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49 Comments

Filed under Crime, Health Policy

49 responses to “Government to Study Gun Control

  1. Daniel

    To imply that a lack of gun control was the cause (or even a contributing factor) in the Fort Hood massacre or the VA Tech massacre is misleading. Both Fort Hood and VA Tech are “gun-free” locations. The fact that they somehow acquired firearms is not the issue… the causal issue is the negligence on the part of those who ignored the red flags of the shooters’ past. In both cases, the shooter did and said things that should have clued in the authorities. In the case of the Fort Hood event, the shooter was a VOCAL supporter of Islamic anti-American notions (and was in close contact with a flaming anti-American Islamic cleric a few years back). Your implication that even MORE gun control (more than just the 100% bans that already exist on the military bases and schools) would help is a fallacy. Your logic is flawed. It was, in fact, an armed individual that STOPPED Nidal Hassan (and, I guarantee you that if more soldiers had been allowed to carry an issued sidearm, he would not have killed NEARLY so many). The sheep should not be allowed to dictate how the sheepdogs do their work. The sheep hate the sheepdogs because they’re not wise enough to tell the difference between a sheepdog and a wolf.

  2. Tom2

    ”This year will go down in history. For the first time, a civilized nation has full gun registration! Our streets will be safer, our police more efficient and the world will follow our lead into the future!” Adolph Hitler, 1935

    • Cliff

      Tom2,
      I’m glad to see you post this, since I was thinking along this line also. If you have a truly honest heart, you should be able to see what’s happening in the United States of America! And it’s not good at all!

  3. gjdagis

    A TRUE progressive would be in favor of respecting a citizen’s right to defend themselves. Power in the hands of the people and NOT in the hands of government (which is almost always prone to the subjugation of the people) should be the aim of progressives.

    • J C

      I don’t know, gjdagis. People who apply this political label to themselves (and that’s all it is) seem to mostly support gun control, and I don’t think we can really redefine the term for them. We can, however, refuse to support anybody who doesn’t realize that we already have more than enough gun control and need to start controlling violent criminals instead.

  4. bob

    emma sandoe is a complete ass and an incompetent writer for writing this article as her head must be up her ass for doing such irresonsible reporting!what a fucking waste of money for such a stupid study.give the money to the people instead!when will america wake up and grow some balls!

  5. Liz

    Finally, someone, somewhere heard my voice. Gun violence is a public health issue and has been for years. The NIH is to be commended!

    • Kris

      Hear! Hear! We are one of the only “civilized” countries with such gun-craziness. Too many gun deaths in this country every week. It is most certainly a public health issue.

      • Dimensio

        Even if all homicides committed with firearms in the United States were discounted, the remaining homicide rate, counting homicides only committed with an implement other than a firearm, would still be significantly higher than the homicide rates of many other first-world nations. It may be wise to first analyze a means of reducing the overall homicide rate — through the addressing of the fundamental motives of many homicide — prior to enacting restrictive, unreasonable and frequently ineffective firearms restrictions.

  6. Russel

    It would be interesting to see what a historical search on gun deaths per capita, during the years 1840- 1890, in the western United States revealed. This is a period when guns were carried openly, or concealed, by a large portion of the male population. I’d bet it would show an interesting correlation.

    • Dimensio

      A more relevant study would focus upon total homicide rates in locales prior and subsequent to the enactment of legislation allowing for the carrying of concealed deadly weapons by civilians through a “shall issue” permit system. To be fully comprehensive, such a study should focus upon changes in homicide rates as compared to changes in homicide rates in locales where the carrying of concealed deadly weapons remained prohibited in the same time period.

      • Daniel

        Nidal Hassan did not have a concealed weapons permit. Nor did the VA Tech murderer. Statistically, holders of valid CWPs are far less likely than not to commit a crime with a firearm. Instead, the study should focus on the changes in homocide rates between not allowing carrying at all and allowing carrying in any form (without focusing specifically on concealed-carry). Might I mention that such studies, though, have already been performed. See the document “Gun Facts” by Guy Smith. It’s loaded with facts AND sources.

  7. Drunken Hick

    Dun’t you dare take my guns away, or the rite to have sex with my sistor. If you dontt love America, then you can get ooot.

  8. Daniel

    You guys are sadly mistaken. Gun violence is not a health issue. Health issues are problems that stem from poor health. I’d put money on all of the dead soldiers at Fort Hood being in perfect health. Are car accidents health issues then? What about Apollo 1?… was the technical malfunction that set fire to the command module (killing three astronauts)… was that a health issue? Should, then, the CDC have ultimate authority over anything that can kill? That’s rediculous. Gun violence is NOT a health issue, because poor health does not cause gun injuries or death. C’mon, people, be realistic. If you want to reduce the number of firearm-related deaths, don’t disarm the rational law-abiding citizens (who statistically prevent more crimes per year with a gun than police officers do). Don’t use pathos to rape logos.

  9. boB.

    Bob, go grow a mustache or something. I think that would be a better use of all of our time.

    As for a study on gun violence…if the research can yield some insight on the nature of this ‘American phenomenon’ and smart policy can be shaped from it, then it will have been worthwhile. Prevention is just as big a part of healthcare as treatment (and, usually, less costly).

    In the end, potentially, more money for the “people”, Bob. (Which people did you mean, exactly?)

  10. Sue.

    Poor health does not cause gun injuries or death?

    Hi, hello.

    “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” I’m guessing you’d agree with this statement? Let’s make it a little bit more precise, since I try my best to refrain from making wild outlandish claims…

    Mentally unhealthy [people] who, without a proper system of prevention/treatment, are able to obtain guns due to lax policy, [kill people.]

    • Dimensio

      An obvious solution to such a circumstance, then, would be to provide for improved mental health care and treatment.

      • Daniel

        Thank you, Dimensio. Leave it to the logically-impaired Left to try to prevent murders by the mentally ill by disarming the mentally healthy. Might I note, also, that the form 4473 that you fill out when you purchase a firearm from a licensed retailer already covers mental issues. Thus, any action taken against the retailer-to-citizen transaction is meaningless. Cue the “gunshow loophole” song and dance…

      • Daniel

        FYI, Dimension, my “thank you” was sincere. I was sue being a part of the logically-impaired Left, not you.

      • Daniel

        Blast. I meant Dimensio, not Dimension. Typing too fast ofr my owngood.

      • Daniel

        I’m on a roll tonight… I meant “I was referring to sue being a part…”

        Ok, I’m leaving. I’ve hosed this enough.

      • Sue.

        You’re very right in proposing such a solution. I’m so glad that the NIH is, with their study, exploring how to improve such health care and treatment.

        A very honest question for those of the “right” (I use the term loosely, since I don’t necessarily consider myself a Leftist): Why, when some new law or talk about gun control comes up, does everyone lose their shit? Surely, upstanding citizens such as yourselves would still be able to arm themselves? I don’t understand the argument that such laws are an effective disarmament of healthy individuals who need/use/genuinely want guns for their own protection. Would it be that terrible to have to work a little harder to purchase a firearm if it truly did prevent other (unhealthy) individuals from getting their hands on them? Shed some light?

      • Dimensio

        Concern exists regarding discussion of additional firearms regulation because often such proposed regulation is wholly irrational and unreasonable, and would in fact limit or eliminate the ability for individuals who have violated no law to obtain firearms. Proposals such as a renewed and expanded “assault weapons ban” would result in the elimination from the civilian market a broad range of popular hunting and target shooting rifles, and in fact some politicians have expressed interest in even confiscating currently owned firearms (such confiscation efforts have already occurred in certain locales, such as the state of California, the state of New York and Cook County within the state of Illinois.). The recent shooting incident in Fort Hood, Texas, has resulted in some firearms prohibitionists making the false claim that the firearm used by the shooter, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, is capable of penetrating police body armour, when in fact the ammunition capable of doing so is federally restricted. Firearms prohibitionist advocates have also opposed laws permitting civilians to carry concealed deadly weapons, and have advocated their repeal or excessive regulation to effectively eliminate the ability, even though such allowances cause no demonstrable detrimental effect.

        Concerns exist not because advocates of retaining firearms rights fear that obtaining firearms may be more difficult, but because firearms prohibitionists have demonstrated and, in some cases, have stated a desire to enact complete civilian disarmament.

  11. gjdagis

    Sue:

    I don’t think that ANYONE is against keeping guns out of the hands of people who would misuse them. The problem is that most laws being proposed tend to disarm those who should be able to protect themselves while doing little to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. As far as registration is concerned . . . it is not very useful at all for those in law enforcement since virtually all guns used in crime have changed hands numerous times before they are used in a crime. On the other hand, registration is ALWAYS a prerequisite to confiscation. Thirdly, it’s frankly none of the government’s business what guns the people have just as it isn’t any of their business who has had an abortion.

  12. beatbox

    Please tell me what law you would like to see enacted that would have prevented the Ft. Hood tragedy. If you cant’, please stop exploiting the issue.

  13. beatbox

    I think the NIH should study Islam as a public health issue. That makes about as much sense as treating guns that way.

  14. DDS -- NRA Life Member

    “In 1996 Congress stripped the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of its $2.6 million dollar annual funding for firearm injuries.”

    Why, oh why would congress ever do such a foolish thing?

    Because the researchers that CDC had selected for the “study” were all rabid foaming-at-the-mouth opponents of civilian ownership of firearms. The results of their “study” were as predictable as the anti-Israel rants that regularly come from the UN Human Rights Commission. People wrote congress demanding this farce be stopped, and for once they did what their constituants demanded. I believe that’s how its supposed to work.

  15. Barrett

    I have no issue at all with a deeper, more intensive background check process to be sure that someone who spent time in a mental h0spital involuntarily couldn’t purchase a firearm legally, a la Virginia Tech. I even have no issue with closing the ‘gun show loophole’ song and dance, with the following: Make the NICS background check system available to the public for the same $10 fee as an FFL is charged to use the system. And don’t use the system with a form 4473, listing the gun being purchased to inform the ATF, use the system purely to check that the person being sold the gun private party is not a felon and is legally allowed to own or possess firearms. Same thing goes in the other direction – allow the NICS system to check to see if a gun that is being sold is not stolen. I think you’d be surprised at how many private parties selling(and buying) guns would be willing to pay the fee and use the system, purely for peace of mind, if not a sense of responsibility.
    Just remember, most(I won’t say all, but I’m sure the number is higher than 50%, probably closer to 75%) of the guns used by criminals and felons are already stolen, either by themselves or somebody they bought it from. Making it MORE difficult(15 day waiting period, long background check, banning certain types of guns)just makes the process more complicated and difficult for normal folks, disarming them while the criminals who already know how to procure a firearm illegally will continue on with business as normal.
    And the NICS system works – I’ve seen plenty of felons get delayed or rejected when they go to buy a gun where I live(Oregon), who then say, “oh, yeah, I have a restraining order against me,” or, “oh, yeah, I got arrested for domestic abuse last year,” or, whatever. They’re criminals, and the NICS system caught them.
    Another source(probably the next most responsible source of guns for felons) is straw sales. I’ve stood there, and watched a guy with what look like prison tats come into my local gun store with his girlfriend, walk around handling guns, and then say, “Oh, sweetie, this is the one you want.” Does that mean he’s a felon and she’s going to buy it for him in a straw sale? No. But it sure seems likely, to somebody with a bit of common sense.

  16. Mark Henricks

    Concealed carry permit holders appear to have an unusual tendency to engage in mass murder. Five mass murderers of 2009, had concealed carry permits, although Hasan’s had expired. The others are Michael McClendon, Richard Poplawski, Frank Garcia and George Sodini. Hasan’s was the only instance of a mass murder occurring in a place where guns are prohibited. Deaths totaled 45. Estimating a total of 5 million concealed carry permit holders, and ignoring the very small sample size, apparently 1 in a million concealed carry permit holders will commit mass murder in any given year. Assuming a similar ratio holds among non-concealed carry permit holders, the roughly 200 million over-21 population should generate roughly 200 mass murderers a year. Since there are fewer than 100 homicides involving three or more victims in America per year, there almost certainly are not 200 mass murderers per year. And that is why it appears that concealed carry permit holders have a tendency toward mass murder.

    • Chuck W

      “ignoring the small sample size”

      I think right there we’ve demonstrated that any statistics you develop from it will be useless, so why do you proceed?

      And you can misuse those statistics to prove that gun owners have an unusual tendency to engage in mass murder also.

      • Mark Henricks

        “Useless” may be a bit strong, Chuck W. At the very least, clearly, concealed carry permit holders represent a disproportionally large percentage of the year’s mass murderers. I specifically address concealed carry permit holders, first, because of this striking phenomenon and, second, because the major push of the NRA and similar organizations these days is for expanding the privilege of ordinary citizens to carry loaded, hidden pistols in public. It’s important in carrying out this discussion to recognize that concealed carry permit holders seem to have an unusual proclivity for mass shootings. Perhaps they don’t. But they seem to.

  17. CannotCarryinMD

    “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

    • Mark Henricks

      I suspect you would agree that ordinary prudence justifies some infringement, despite what the Bill of Rights says. For instance, as I posted earlier, I doubt many people would support the right to secretly carry a hidden, loaded handgun to an audience with the President. Similarly, you can’t yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater and claim First Amendment protection. Given this, the question becomes: What kinds of infringement?

      • CannotCarryinMD

        Infringement as in not being able to legally carry a concealed firearm ANYWHERE in my home state, yet be fully trained and licensed to carry a firearm in a dozen or so other states. That is infringement. And for the record, I have personally stood next to two Presidents of the United States and he and his armed protectors would have had nothing to fear of me had I been carrying a concealed firearm.

  18. gjdagis

    Mark said,”Concealed carry permit holders appear to have an unusual tendency to engage in mass murder.”

    If this is the case perhaps we should dispose of them entirely. Vermont is a state that doesn’t require ANY permits nor gun registration and they have one of the lowest rates of crime in the entire nation and NO mass murderers.

    • Mark Henricks

      Countering the Vermont example is Alaska. Advocates of expanded concealed carry privilege often cited Alaska as the other state that doesn’t restrict concealed carry. However, unlike Vermont, Alaska has one of the nation’s highest violent crime rates.

      • Barrett

        Alaska is also one of the loneliest, oddest places to live, with months of continuous day or night, and its no wonder that many of the natives turn to alcohol and drugs for amusement or relief. I’m sure you’d find that there’s also an extremely high drug and alcohol usage rate in Alaska, that can account for much of the violent crime there, in the same manner as a crack-addled LA neighborhood would have a lot of violent crime.

  19. Mark Henricks

    You make a good point, Barrett. Many factors besides the ease of obtaining a concealed carry permit exert an influence on crime. Alaska does have high rates of alcohol abuse, which typically correlates to higher rates of violent crime. (Personally, I drink like a fish ever since my wife sued for divorce, but I can hardly remember the last time I beat up anybody.) I suspect that factors other than concealed carry permit laws explain the Vermont crime rate as well, just as they do the difference in the crime rates between gun-friendly Alexandria, Virginia, and gun-hostile Washington, D.C.

    • J C

      Indeed, other factors are probably very important if a state with permissive gun laws can have either very high crime or very low crime. It almost seems like the level of gun control doesn’t really matter.

    • Barrett

      Don’t get me wrong, I’m not making excuses for anyone who drinks or uses drugs. But I’d definitely say the availability of intoxicants, combined with no CCH licensing requirements, and a hostile, psychologically troubling wilderness, could be responsible for a lot of the crime you hear about in Alaska.
      There’s a show on NatGeo(National Geographic Television) called Alaska State Troopers, and there’s some eye-opening content showing just how sad and depressed so many people are, who live there. On the other hand, there are people who just absolutely love it, and they’re doing just fine. So I think the isolation might be the biggest cause, next to complete lack of law enforcement. Something like under 1000 troopers for a state geographically larger than Texas?

  20. J C

    I think you should acknowledge the original source of the image you used, which I believe is Oleg Volk’s website.

    http://olegvolk.net/gallery/technology/arms/ar15-m16/pink6005.jpg.html

  21. blangwort

    The health issue here is a matter of psychiatry, not gun policy. The question is why anyone would feel the need to kill another, not whether the existence of a tool for hunting or self protection has any impact. If you follow this line of thinking, pretty soon you’ll find yourself regulating the sale of kitchen knives, rat poison, and fertilizer.

    This is a waste of NIH resources. Let’s focus on the actual problem instead of the politically sexy “solution.”

  22. Mike

    The people who planned the horrible acts against innocent people picked an easy target. No one commits mass murder in a police station or a gun club. You don’t see this in states that allow people to carry guns its only in no carry states or zones where people are not allowed to be armed. Some people who don’t know are going to say the murders at fort hood happened on a military base, well on a base in a non conflict zone soldiers don’t carry guns. We try to curb violence by putting laws against carrying guns. Most of the people who brake this law don’t care if they are transporting drugs, the gun is the least of their problems. People who plan on committing mass murder don’t think about maybe I shouldn’t kill people its illegal they don’t care. I don’t like the idea at all but the only answer is to allow every one to carry, of course people may die in accidents relating to this or be injured but we only hope that its less then if people go off on a homicidal rampage, I don’t want this, but I want a fighting chance, I don’t want to cross my fingers and hope the police show up soon.

  23. Mark Henricks

    Mike: You repeat familiar arguments in favor of concealed carry without, I think, examining them carefully. For instance, you say these events never occur in places where guns are allowed. Yet in August George Sodini killed four people in a Pennsylvania fitness center where guns were allowed if, as Sodini did, you have a concealed carry permit. Together with Sodini, it’s worth noting, four concealed carry permit holders have killed 32 people in mass murders this year — all in places where guns were allowed. That’s not counting the one mass murderer who operated in a gun-free zone, namely, Hasan, whose Virginia permit had expired before he killed 13 at Fort Hood. If you count him, the 2009 mass murder body count attributable to concealed carry permit holders is 45. Also consider that no private citizen without law enforcement background has ever used a legally concealed weapon to stop a mass murder involving more than two homicides in progress. Under these circumstances, I think that expanding concealed carry permit privileges in the hope that it will save more lives than it costs is not a wise course of action.

  24. For integrity’s sake, I must first note that the Hitler quote is fake.

    Now, the medical community is as useful a reference on firearms as Guns and Ammo is on heart surgery. That’s a bogus argument from authority.

    Nor would it matter what they think. I give less than a damn about anyone’s opinion on my free speech, right to keep and bear arms, right to be secure against search and seizure. You can probably find someone to make an argument that the 4th and 5th amendments increase crime by hindering apprehensions. So what? If you have a problem with our civil rights, move to North Korea.

    Finally, my daughter, in the picture, thinks you’re a pansy.

    Toodles.

  25. Mark: your arguments are fallacious and innumerate, and as I noted, irrelevant in the face of our Constitution. I could reduce crime by locking everyone behind bars. So what?

  26. Mark Henricks

    Mr. Williamson: Thanks for the feedback. You may need to be more specific in your criticisms for them to be very useful. For example, which of my arguments is fallacious? Which is innumerate?

    I am pretty sure, for instance, no example exists of a private citizen without law enforcement background using a legally concealed weapon to stop a mass murder involving more than two homicides in progress. Is this fallacious?

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