Why the NRA Is Blocking Obama’s Surgeon General Nominee

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Vivek Murthy
Dr. Vivek Hallegere Murthy, President Barack Obama's nominee to be the next US Surgeon General, prepares to testify on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on his nomination. February 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

This post originally appeared at The Nation.

The post of the surgeon general has been vacant since July and it looks likely to remain that way for some time thanks to a strident campaign led by the National Rifle Association and libertarian Senator Rand Paul against President Obama’s nominee, Dr. Vivek Murthy.

Murthy has medical and business degrees from Yale, works as an attending physician and instructor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital at Harvard Medical School and has founded several health businesses and nonprofits. He has also expressed support for limited gun safety measures like a ban on assault weapons, mandatory safety training and limits on ammunition and so the NRA has declared it will “score” his confirmation vote, putting pressure on Senate Democrats running tight re-election races in red states to block Murthy’s confirmation. As The New York Times reported, the White House is “recalibrating” its strategy towards Murthy’s nomination, meaning the Senate vote will either be delayed or never happen.

This isn’t the first time the NRA has held up a nominee: the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives went without a director for seven years because of opposition from the gun lobby. But never before has the group set itself so strongly against a surgeon general nominee. So why now? The NRA said Murthy’s “blatant activism on behalf of gun control” attracted their attention.

But the gun lobby’s campaign against Murthy isn’t really about his record, or him at all. His positions on guns are hardly radical or even activist and his views are consistent with those of the majority of Americans. Polling indicates that the public is far more supportive of new gun control laws than members of Congress or, certainly, the NRA.

Furthermore, Murthy’s views represent a consensus among medical professionals that gun violence is a major public health issue. Gun violence, including suicide, kills some 30,000 Americans every year, about the same number as car accidents. Cars are highly regulated for health and safety; guns, barely. Accordingly, the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, among many others, have called for stronger gun safety laws. It would be surprising if, as a doctor, Murthy did not have concerns about gun violence and the strength of current regulations.

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.

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.”

While the industry’s goals aren’t exceptional, its success at evading regulation is, said Kristen Rand, legislative director at the Violence Policy Center. “Guns are a consumer product. We’ve taken a public health approach to reducing product-related injury for every other product, from automobiles, to toys, to airplanes. Every product is regulated from a health and safety perspective with the goal of reducing accident and injury. The only exception is guns,” Rand said.

Murthy’s assurance that he does not intend to use the surgeon general’s office “as a bully pulpit on gun control” failed to appease the NRA. Perhaps appeasement is the wrong tack. The only way to curb the gun industry’s outsized influence is if people like the surgeon general do talk about gun violence and advocate for more research and data, not less.

“The surgeon general’s role is to educate the public about how to live healthier, safer lives and one of biggest injury-producing mechanisms in America today are guns. It’s obviously an area where he should be involved,” said Rand. “What the NRA fears is having someone with a bully pulpit who has solid information and is giving people the facts. The NRA fears information.”

Democrats also need to stand up for freedom of speech and information. The midterm map presents a real challenge, as the Senate races most important to Democrats are in deep red states — Louisiana, Arkansas, Montana, Alaska — where public opinion on gun control is far more conservative than it is nationally. Still, it’s far from clear that the NRA’s endorsement is worth groveling for. The NRA can easily whip up hundreds of gun owners to flood Senate offices with calls expressing outrage over Murthy’s nomination, but there is some evidence that the group’s electoral influence is much less significant than its effect on policymaking and nominations. According to a statistical analysis conducted by Paul Waldman in 2012, “The NRA has virtually no impact on congressional elections. The NRA endorsement, so coveted by so many politicians, is almost meaningless. Nor does the money the organization spends have any demonstrable impact on the outcome of races.” [Emphasis his.]

Zoë Carpenter is a reporter in The Nation’s Washington, DC, bureau. She has written for Rolling Stone, Guernica and the Poughkeepsie Journal. An Oregon native, Zoë studied writing and environmental politics at Vassar College.
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  • Anonymous

    This should not be about gun control. This should be about the fact that Obama has put forward a clearly unqualified candidate to pay off a political debt to him. Murthy has never even run a department in a hospital and Obama wants him to run the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. Podunk General Hospital wouldn’t have this guy as a department head but Obama likes his Doctors for Obama group. What a joke.

  • Blaine Holzer

    Obama cannot get his anti-gun agenda passed by congress – so he will try to promote it in any way he can. He and Biden (and Feinstein, etc.) would like to ban all guns. They would like to have the whole country be a “gun free zone” . That’s not “paranoia” – that’s the TRUTH. Guns in the hands of honest law abiding people is not the problem. The problem is guns in the hands of black gangs in the inner city war zones. THAT is what drives the “gun death” stats through the roof. (Google “gun murders by race” and see what the US CDC has to say about it). I don’t know how to solve that problem – but it is emphatically NOT disarming the good guys! In my state of Florida 1 in 14 folks carry concealed. Florida has NOT become the wild west! Crime against persons is decreasing year by year as concealed carry is increasing year by year. The author has got things absolutely backwards.

  • ranlin

    Dr. Vivek Hallegere Murthy looking forward to you as the US Surgeon General! Thank You for the courage to speak on an issue everyone keeps dodging,namely, gun violence/control. In memory of those beautiful children slaughtered (to name a few) Columbine High School April 20, 1999, Amish schoolhouse on October 2, 2006, elementary school on December 14, 2012…http://www2.sandyhookpromise.org/ let’s keep educating our BEAUTIFUL country on those things that matter to ALL of us!

    Thank you President Obama on leading with integrity!

  • POA

    “Thank you President Obama on leading with integrity!”

    Exactly when did the integrity part happen?

    You should educate yourself (as opposed to listening to the Liar in Chief) on the real issues of gun violence. The truth is not hard to find if you want it. Be warned though, all the popular kids at your table won’t like it. Which is exactly why you won’t do it.

    Please tell us more of your “informed” opinion though.

  • Anonymous

    A quick look at Murthy’s resume confirms what Feltre says!

  • Anonymous

    It’s human behavior not weapons that is the problem. Psychopathic mass murderers can always come up with ways to kill innocent people; vehicles , incendiaries, improvised explosives and even box cutters.

    Likewise bans on semi-auto “assault weapons” like Murthy advocates are likley to be as successful as the 1920-1933 ban on another consumer product that the majority of people used responsibly was.

  • Anonymous

    Murthy’s qualifications are more political than professional. So it should not be a surprise that those who are opposed to his left wing nanny state agenda are calling him to account for his political actions and stands!

  • williamdiamon

    Actually, doctors mistakes cost more lives than firearms.

    This from Wikipedia:
    Injury’s:
    A 2006 follow-up to the IOM study found that medication errors are among the most common medical mistakes, harming at least 1.5 million people every year. According to the study, 400,000 preventable drug-related injuries occur each year in hospitals, 800,000 in long-term care settings, and roughly 530,000 among Medicare recipients in outpatient clinics. The report stated that these are likely to be conservative estimates.

    This from mercola:
    Deaths:
    Even at the lower estimate of 225,000 deaths per year, this constitutes the third leading cause of death in the US, following heart disease and cancer. If the higher estimates are used, the deaths due to iatrogenic (resulting from the activity of physicians) causes would range from 230,000 to 284,000.

    I guess when they say they’re “practicing” medicine, they really mean it.

    So lets ban doctors too.

  • williamdiamon

    Our murder and crime rates are reaching a ONE HUNDRED year low. But NOW guns are the problem?

  • jlkansascity21

    Cars are indeed regulated, but then there is no constitutional protection for car ownership. So that’s not a good comparison. This is a pretty one sided article.

  • Anonymous

    my Aunty Amelia got a new blue Land Rover
    LR4 only from working part time off a home computer… helpful hints F­i­s­c­a­l­P­o­s­t­.­ℂ­o­m

  • pointofgrille

    AND, Doctor’s skill and knowledge save millions of lives. Health care is not an exact science and illnesses are not carbon copies of there illnesses.
    AND, no one points a doctor at another human being and pulls the trigger.
    Your points are not relative to the discussion……..just points, and for your information: Drs. prescribe medications and rarely administer the medication. The great majority of medication errors are made in incorrect dosage, medication, or administration.
    Next time you have a medical emergency go the GUN STORE for help.

  • pointofgrille

    Please provide the specific details of “Obama’s anti-gun agenda”. There is no such agenda! A responsible gun ownership platform is NOT anti gun.
    Florida not the wild West, but a dangerous place to see a movie, buy skittles and a soda, or be a kid black kid, without a gun, who gets in an argument with an old white dude…or a little kid who finds a loaded gun under a car seat and shoots himself. Yeah, responsible gun ownership is the solution. How about arguing against irresponsible gun ownership as much as you argue about a phantom anti gun agenda by the President.

  • pointofgrille

    Absolute BALDERDASH!

  • williamdiamon

    Guns save lives too.

    Yes, “no one points a doctor at another human being”, that’s true. They are killed by mistakes. Mistakes are made because of ignorance. Ignorance can be corrected with knowledge. Murder is caused by evil. Show me a law that can correct evil.

    The point is their mistakes can be corrected and reduced. Criminals and murderers don’t care. The doctor should consider addressing an issue he can effect, instead of propagating a political view just to get a cushy job.

    “Next time you have a medical emergency go the GUN STORE for help.” “Now your point is not relative to the discussion.”

  • pointofgrille

    Yeah, educated at Harvard and Yale. On staff Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Physician and Instructor of Medicine at Harvard Medical school……….unqualified???? And your qualifications to judge medical competence are?

  • Blaine Holzer

    If you think Obama doesn’t have an anti-gun agenda you are simply uninformed. There is nothing “phantom” about it.BTW – Zimmerman shot your little angel (the black “kid”) in self defense as he was bashing Zimmerman’s head into concrete. Perhaps you didn’t follow the details of the trial. Accidental gun deaths are very sad but extremely rare. A lot more kids drown to death – I don’t see a big deal made about pool safety by the left wing – why not do you suppose?

  • pointofgrille

    Bashing his head into concrete. So that’s how he got that scrape . Your facts are not correct. Zimmerman is still a loose cannon and kept his guns thru 3 conflicts with family involving weapons and threats. It’s not responsible policy to allow a George Zimmerman to continue to have guns when he demonstrated his inability to comprehend the safe handling of a weapon.

  • Anonymous

    Yes..very unqualified. The Surgeon General is not just a teacher. The Surgeon General is not just an attending physician. The Surgeon General is the head of the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps and holds the rank of Vice Admiral. He commands over 6500 medical personnel who can be dispatched to health emergencies in very short notice. He needs some medical administration experience, chief medical officer of a major hospital preferred but at least head of a major department. Murthy is a well trained doctor and a politician, but he doesn’t have the experience for Surgeon General.

  • Blaine Holzer

    Obama fully subscribes to Senator Feinstein’s “assault weapons” ban – how about that one! That – alone – would outlaw the most popular sporting rifle sold in the US in addition to most of the semi auto handguns that are sold. But, of course, that’s just the beginning. He does not believe ordinary citizens should have guns. PERIOD! Besides, why should anyone believe ANYTHING that man says – he only tells the truth if it suits his political machinations – which is not very often. BTW – I don’t care about Zimmerman. You, apparently, have just adopted the knee jerk liberal stance without looking at the evidence the jury considered in voting not guilty.

  • moderator

    Blaine Holzer and pointofgrille:

    This is an issue that brings out a great deal of passion. It looks like you will have to agree to disagree. Please move on.

    Thanks
    Sean @ Moyers

  • moderator

    pointofgrille and Blaine Holzer

    This is an issue that brings out a great deal of passion. It looks like you will have to agree to disagree. Please move on.

    Thanks

    Sean @ Moyers

  • Blaine Holzer

    I agree. I’m sure neither of us will change our minds any time soon. I appreciate your moderation.

  • pointofgrille

    Thanks for the reminder.

  • Zach Soya

    How many lives guns save, when fired at a human?

  • Anonymous

    Whenever you hear terms like “gun violence” and “gun homicide’ you know somebody is trying to mislead you. The real problems are violence and homicide, it doesn’t matter whether they are committed with guns or knives, vehicles and incendiaries. Murderers and violent criminals will use whatever means are available. If they don’t have guns they will substitute some other means. The so-called “public health model” fails because it views the guns as the problem rather than the violent individual!

    “Medical professionals” have a right to their own opinions but they have about as much expertise when it comes to curtailing criminal violence as criminologists have in delivering babies and performing heart bypass operations!

  • Tired of stupid people

    william where do you live? Surely your not the stupid? Low I think not. Try living a night in the Bronx NY or anywhere for that matter and tell me you didn’t hear a gunshot ring out. Better yet go spend the night in the ER and come out telling me no shots were fired on anyone!

  • Tired of stupid people

    Paturious I do hope your being scarastic on the Wiki being right thing. You do know that wiki is writen by anyone and not a professional and can be altered/changed by anyone. Or are you so literate regarding the working of the web?

  • Tired of stupid people

    I am sorry ranlin I was with you up to the part of the “Thank you President Obama on leading with integrity!” You should have just left it with the good Dr and not brought that part into it. I can not comment now.

  • Tired of stupid people

    Blaine I beg to differ as I too live in the land of the walking dead…Florida. Guns are out of control even in Sarasota and Bradenton. Also this state is full of “red necks” and they are the gun tooting fools around here not the blacks. Color has nothing to do with guns. I grew up in the Bronx NY and let me tell you more crime in St Pete then the Bronx and I was the only “white” family in the area yet we were safer there then here. So don’t throw color into it or I will bring the red necks out and we can duke it out. Heehaw or what ever they talk.

  • Tired of stupid people

    Point I differ with you also. Color has nothing to do with it as bullets know no color..people do. I will agree Florida is not the wild west but is not the safe haven most think it is. I do agree its the owner of the gun that has to be blamed here not the president/surgeon general, etc.

  • williamdiamon

    I carry on the advise of my father. It turned out to be good advice as it saved the lives of 8 people in an interrupted attempted armed robbery one night.

    So, it depends on the incident and how many people you are trying to protect.

  • williamdiamon

    The proper response, when someone is shooting at you is to shoot back. You will need a gun for this. It is also the only way to protect an innocent, If you care as much about people as you think you do. If you do not have a gun, call police. Why? Because they have a gun. / Reread paragraph until it sinks in.

  • williamdiamon

    The data and facts displayed at wiki, like anywhere else, can be easily researched and verified. I have verified their content on this issue and you should too.

  • Blaine Holzer

    The only reason I brought color into it is the there is an extreme difference in gun murder rate to consider. No one mentions this because of political correctness. If you take the inner city black gangs out of the picture then the US is a very peaceful nonviolent place with a lot of people carrying concealed weapons. Something like 72% of counties have a ZERO gun murder rate. In Chicago (for example) you have very strict “gun control” but a gun murder rate through the roof. It slants all the statistics so that America as a whole appears to have a “gun problem”. It doesn’t – it has an inner city gang problem. That is where the lion share of “gun violence” happens – and it is ALREADY against the law there for these criminals to carry and use guns. They do it anyway and peaceful law abiding folks in other parts of the country are blamed.

  • Anonymous

    Murthy finished his residency less than eight years ago. He has never held a major administrative post with a medical school, hospital or the Public Health Service. Those are pretty thin professional credentials for somebody to be Surgeon General especially when you compare them to past Surgeons General. it’s readily apparent that his main attraction for Obama is political not professional!

    I don’t claim any special qualifications to judge Murthy’s “medical competence” but as a lawyer with wide experience and having done graduate level work in four different disciplines I am totally qualified to judge the sufficiency of his administrative experience.If you insist on medical qualifications my uncle, a Harvard Medical School graduate, who has served as president of his state’s association and chief of staff of one of the state’s largest and best hospitals, agrees completely with my assessment!

  • JonThomas

    Sorry, but yours is a specious and sophistic argument.

    The means of injury and death do matter. They matter a great deal! For one, gun shots are FAR MORE lethal than a flailing knife fight. Unless you are a knife fighting expert, or sneak up on a person to get within arm distance (requiring premeditation) more likely than not the attack results in injury, not death.

    Unless of course the country gets overrun by deadly, knife-throwing ninjas!

    The type of violent action from any weapon, other than a gun, requires EXTREME determination. Violence using a gun is quick and clean. It needs no other thought or malice than pulling a trigger.

    When you enter a confrontation either with, or against a knife, you face the prospect of an opposer. When you have a gun, you are the one with the power, there is no opposing balance to slow down either your action or your intent.

    A “public health model” which takes the effects of certain weapons into consideration is EXACTLY the correct course of action to provide a full understanding of issues relating to violence and it’s affects. Look at the statistics for violence in other nations. The nations which take the type of weapon into consideration have far fewer deaths from acts of violence.

    “Medical Professionals,” especially coroners and medical examiners, have MORE expertise into injuries than any other profession in society! To say that their findings and opinions have little to no merit is ridiculous!

    I am not against guns in general, BUT I am against illogical and simplistically false agenda pushing reasoning meant to dishonestly persuade an audience.

  • JonThomas

    Ok, let me see if I can keep up with your circular logic…

    You say guns saved lives by threatening to take lives against people who had guns to take lives, who were threatened by people who had guns to take lives, by being threatened to take lives, by people who had guns to take lives….

    Wait… I get it! If no one had guns, no lives at all would have been threatened! Brilliant, I agree!

  • williamdiamon

    You seem really confused. Sleep on it.
    Are you suggesting no lives would be lost in a society without guns? 100,000,000 gun owners and 9,000 murders with guns. This ratio of 100 to .009 shows criminal use of guns to be an anomaly, not a constant. What is a constant in murder is crime and evil, this has existed since Cain. WAKE UP.

  • JonThomas

    Ahh… straight up apologizism seeking to afford excuses upon your desires.

    I didn’t suggest anything, so there’s no use trying to strawman me with false syllogisms.

    What I did was simply point out the circular logic excuse you made for guns being allowed in society. As I said in another comment on this article… I’m not against guns or gun ownership, but if you are going to post comments which make no sense at all, you aren’t helping your case.

    If you want to be earnest, then look at other societies which do have tighter gun restrictions and make the falty comparison you just tried to make.

    Of course crime and violence has been around a long time. But gun violence is more atrocious and more deadly than any in history.

    If you want to get rid of this ‘anomaly’ as you call it, then get rid of guns. Again, I’m not saying that is the best way to go or not, but your use of reasoning and logic is self-defeating.

  • POA

    No.. You know nothing about me and I could careless about Rand.

    Don’t you have a gun show to go to?

  • Anonymous

    You just hate guns and gun owners. According to the most recent Gallup Poll some 47% of American households own guns. This amounts to somewhere around 100 milllion Americans. Clearly those who commit crimes with guns are a very tiny minority of these people!

    Is there any other group you smear so viciously because of the actions of a minority? Racial groups, other nationalities, religions etc? A smarter, healthier and more adult approach is to concentrate on those who actually commit crimes or act irresponsibly as opposed to smearing millions of decent law abiding citizens because of your biases!

  • Anonymous

    Murthy has the right to say whatever he wants but that does not mean he has the right to be confirmed as Surgeon General if most of the Senators believe he is unqualified or don’t like is political positions!

  • Anonymous

    You are making the unwarranted assumption that guns are only used defensively against others who have guns. In other words to use your philosophical terms you have set up a straw man.

    Of the four incidents involving people I know who used guns or had guns used on their behalf to defuse a threat, none of the assailants had guns themselves. They were instead depending upon superior strength or numbers!

  • Anonymous

    J.T. ,
    The problem is not circular logic but rather you straw man hypothesis. Many assailants do not have guns. Typically a 275 lb. man attacking a 120 lb. woman does not need a gun nor do a band of thugs attacking a single man!

    If you really want to be earnest why don’t you compare the homicide rates (not just gun homicides but total homicides) of different countries and American states. You will find that stricter gun control laws do not translate to lower murder rates.Some States like Utah, Idaho and Wyoming with few restrictions on firearms for example have low homicide rates whereas California with some of the strictest laws in the nation has much higher rates. Culture appears to have far a far greater effect. Germany, Austria and Switzerland with similar cultures have almost eh same murder rates desist having very different gun control laws and rates of gun ownership.

    As for getting rid of guns, think about the last time we tried to ban a product that most people used responsibly because of the misuse of that product by a minority. Prohibition was a miserable failure and gun bans would not fare any better!

  • Anonymous

    JT,

    You are peddling more red herrings than a fish monger. The advantages guns enjoy as weapons do not negate the phenomenon of substitution of means. It’s also interesting to note that guns enjoy a greater relative advantage as defensive weapons than as offensive weapons. Firearms are less useful to attackers who can utilize surprise and select victims who are weaker and less numerous. Potential victims typically do not have these options.

    More to the point comparing just “gun homicide” or “gun violence” can provide a distorted picture of how dangerous a society is. Cutting
    down on “gun murders” accomplishes little if murders by other means make up the difference. Total homicide and violent crime rates provide a far more accurate picture.

    The “public health model” is flawed both in terms of its accuracy in representing the dangers of gun violence and on the philosophical
    viewpoint that underpins it. The guns themselves are not the problem. It is rather the very small minority of owners who use them carelessly or to commit crimes. It is unfair to the vast majority of responsible gun owners to punish them for the misdeeds of a few. One infuriating irony that I have noticed is that all too often those pushing gun control are the same ones who don’t have the stomach to adequately punish the criminals who misuse guns!

    Finally while “Medical Professionals, especially coroners and medical examiners, (may) have MORE expertise into (firearms) injuries than any other profession in society” that does not mean that they know any more about the behavior that causes such injuries than “Joe Sixpack”! Reading Vivek Murthy’s letters to Joe Biden and to Congress, it’s readily apparent that he knows little of psychology, criminology, law and politics all of which are more relevant to the prevention of crime and accidents than medicine!

  • Anonymous

    Using your logic the First Amendment would provide no protection for the broadcast media and the internet.

    Oh and by the way a lot of us prefer AKs to ARs!

  • Anonymous

    Sheila did you read what I had to say? I am judging the man’s administrative experience not his medical competence! Are you questioning my uncle’s medical credentials?

    What does John Ashcroft have to do with this? If you look at his resume by the time he was appointed AG he had been Missouri State Auditor, Assistant Attorney General, Governor and US Senator! What has Vivek Murthy done in the medical field that would compare to that?

  • Anonymous

    Sheila you are attacking Feltre rather than what he ash to say! Feltre is not the issue Murthy’s qualifications, or more correctly the lack of them, is the issue.

    Study Murthy’s resume and compare it to the resume of past Surgeons General and then tell us why Murthy is anywhere near to being in the same league with them as far as administrative experiencing is concerted!

  • Blaine Holzer

    Oh PLEASE! You’re over simplifying the situation in the extreme. BTW – mass shootings happen in countries with very strict gun control as well (Germany, for example). Fortunately, they are very rare. It has NOTHING to do with “gun control” laws. [Please reread my comment above - it's not too bad a thumbnail description of the national "problem" if I do say so myself]. If someone is killed by lightning do you say that there is an “epidemic” of lightning strikes in the US? Or that something tragic and very rare has happened?

  • Anonymous

    Great comment, 33Charlemagne! Truly one of the best I have read on this site. If only more people would open their eyes and turn on their brains, we would not be losing our freedoms so rapidly.

  • Bob Jones

    red states are the top 10 in violent crimes. a few of those red states are predominantly of the minority race aka whites, yet low brain cell folks will still declare those states HIGH violence is to be blamed on non whites when simple math, oh never mind this amount info gunna amek your head explode

  • jl89996g

    You seem blissfully unaware of history. The second amendment was written to counter the British army, and had nothing to do with slavery. Along with the second amendment, several others were in response to British actions; most notably the third amendment, and to a degree the fourth also. Actually, the Constitution pre-dates the Civil War by quite a bit so I don’t see your connection.

  • Anonymous

    I belong to the Gallup Poll program and haven’t heard of the “latest poll” about guns. Musta missed that email and snail mail bulletin.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for the link. But, their are 34% that own firearms and, to me, that is too many. I feel that some of that percentage should not have guns legally for any reason. I gave mine up over 30 years ago and have not missed them, but I do like my baseball bat. It’s quiter.

  • rfkolbe

    Guns get the job done better than most available weapons. There is no denying that. IT IS THE guns and semi-automatic with high powered ammunition that belongs on the battlefield not on our streets or in our homes. The number one weapon in mass shootings is the semi-automatic handgun. FACT

  • rfkolbe

    No you are making things up. Nobody hates gun owners, we hate stupidity and a lack of common sense.

  • Anonymous

    rfkolbe,

    You are making a faulty assumption. It is the people not the guns that are the problem. A murderous psychopath with no guns and a little imagination is a whole lot more dangerous than a decent law abiding citizen with an entire arsenal. Guns are not the only “efficient” weapon for mass killings consider that a number of Australian mass murderers have used arson, the worst school killer in American history used explosives and Timothy McVeigh used fertilizer.

    Likewise you know little about guns. Even if you could do so (think about how ineffective Prohibition was at stopping alcohol consumption) banning semi-automatics would make little difference. Double action revolvers, lever action rifles and pump shotguns are almost as fast as their semi-automatic counterparts and they have all been around since the 19th Century!

  • Anonymous

    rfkolbe,
    You have clearly not read all the comments on the internet that I have. Plenty of people scape goat decent law abiding gun owners for the criminal actions of killers and psychopaths. In addition plenty of gun control types resort to spurious personal attacks on Second Amendment supporters.

    Finally the uninformed and sophomoric are prone to mistake beliefs contrary to their own as “stupidity and lack of common sense”! Consider for a moment that the studies done after the expiration of the Clinton “Assault Weapons Ban” failed to show that such a ban (the gold standard of gun control measures) had had any significant effect on crime!

  • Rosa Lee

    Nobody is trying to ‘ban’ guns! Just a little common sense to do stricter background/mental health checks, stricter control on assault weapons that should be for the battlefield and some reasonable control on the amount and types of ammunition. It doesn’t matter the issue these days, there seems to be no middle road, no give and take, no compromise….just name calling. There has to be a middle ground somewhere between ‘banning’ guns and doing nothing!

  • NunyaBusiness

    Just because the President, Congress AND the Supreme Court say a law is Constitutional OR unconstitutional does not make it so. The Constitution obviously says “the right of the people to keep and bear arms, SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED.”

    That means that the Supreme Court and MANY politicians have gotten it wrong many times. There is NO Constitutional authority for any gun law.

  • steward

    The problem started when someone decided to make guns a “public health issue”. Once that happened, it threw the position of Surgeon General into an untenable situation. Let ATF deal with guns, keep PHS and CDC on things like, oh, Ebola, Lassa, Marburg, influenza, avian flu, HIV… it’s a big enough plate already.

  • Anonymous

    The 2 nd amendment rights are non negotiable and not related to health issues. Period.

  • Anonymous

    Doctors have no place or right to say one way or another about 2nd amendment. How about I tell doctors to stop driving cars since they kill 10x more…

  • Mark

    Is what the NRA saying is that the citizens of the US are not capable of making correct decisions based on all available information? Is that what the NRA is saying?

  • Anonymous

    This article is the biggest pack of lies, spin, propaganda, and BS that I’ve seen in a long time.
    EVERY gun control trope and propaganda hack, like the Hemenway and the VPC, is here, either lying outright on verifiable facts or lying by omission.

  • Anonymous

    “I don’t know a single gun owner afraid to have real conversations either.”

    Exactly. And when we DO have those conversations…. we win. That is why gun laws are falling across the nation and gun ownership and carry are skyrocketing.

  • Anonymous

    Really? Because our interpretation is THEIR interpretation.

    They also would refuse to infringe upon the rights of all citizens because of the acts of one person.

  • Anonymous

    High powered ammo?

    What would that be?

  • Anonymous

    Right…so the actions of criminals means that the rights of ALL Americans should be infringed.

    Everybody in America could murder someone with a gun except you, but that would not empower ANYONE to infringe upon your rights.

  • Armond

    30,000 American’s shot and killed each year…one of the leading killers of children is gun murder…all issues that effect the “health” of American citizens…are public health issues…no different than concern with smog and clean air and water.

    What is untenable…is to believe that all decisions made by our founders in 1776…are still correct…or ever correct…in their application in our world today.

    Our founders opinions about women, non-land owners, and on people of color…suggest at least a pattern…of limited thought

    Any medical doctor who does not question…at least as a minimum…gun safety in the home…along with chemical safety…home safety…car safety…food safety…has failed in their obligation toward their service public

    Any Surgeon General who does not raise gun safety….is no different than those in the past…who refused to stand and be counted in the face of overwhelming medical evidence…on the health impacts of tobacco smoke

  • Armond

    Moderator…do not know why you removed the comments of Cargosquid…as every American should have the ability…to read and understand…even limited and flawed thought which impacts implementation of effective and appropriate solutions to our American problems.

    Allow us as Americans…to look ignorance clearly in the face…so that we fully understand that deep level of human dysfunction…and the negative impacts such dysfunction has on our lives.

  • Armond

    Charlemagne…it is not 800AD any more…the world is round…and the planets revolve around the sun

    you lay the true argument on the table…and seem to have not even recognize what you have said

    if criminals do not have guns…then they will find something else to use

    or could it be…if they don’t have a gun…they are less likely…to at the very least…to commit a murder…as part of their other…antisocial behavior

    while the mentally ill is one issue…petty criminals and their access to guns is another

  • Armond

    they are “both” part of the problem…both people and the open availability of guns

  • Armond

    don’t hate gun owners
    but as an American…very concerned with the number of gun related deaths in “our” country

  • Armond

    and you fail to consider or give value to those killed as a result of open uncontrolled access to guns

    until both sides of the issue are given value…not meaningful discussion can ever be had

  • Armond

    yo mama….check it out

    now that I threw a name at you…does it help you to hear or see better

  • Armond

    and studies do show…that increased levels of gun ownership…do lead to increased levels of gun related deaths

    and studies do show…that minority communities support greater levels of gun control…due to their greater concern…with their own right to life…in the threat of increased gun crime and death in their American communities

    the fact that those seeking free open unrestricted gun rights…continue to ignore and dismiss…the rightful concerns of urban minority America…is the keystone…that hinders a meaningful and effective National discussion

  • Armond

    as stated in the Washington Post more than a year ago…

    “Downplaying one side of the gun issue while over-emphasizing another side because of a particular socioeconomic and political point of view does not advance the debate or help solve the inherent problems involved. All it does is misinform and inflame passions”

    and allow conditions to exist that lead to the death of more Americans

  • Armond

    and we control the types and sizes of knifes…that can be freely carried in public

    and while David carried a slingshot in his battle against Goliath…that too would be controlled by law…as a matter of public safety

    and what stops my rocket launcher…from being a better…or different type of gun

    while yesterday my right to a gun was a single shot musket…why in the world then would my right be restricted…to not allow me to have an active gun drone…flying over my shoulder in public…ready to effect my right…to shoot on sight…all who offend me

  • Armond

    you are right…………….but it also was to address concern with slaves…and with Native American Indians…who opposed the taking of their land…while those new Americans call their grab…just simple self-defense

  • Armond

    yet when we try to address medical malpractice…some only point…to the high cost of medical malpractice insurance

    and when we attempt to speak to the causes and issues of gun related deaths…the sad response…the 2nd amendment

    yet no thought or respect given…to the greatest American right of all…that called a natural born right…the Right to Life

    which should stand supreme and above all other rights…

  • steward

    Armond:

    1. According to the FBI, involuntary deaths by firearm totaled 8,583 in 2011, and have been on a steady decline.

    2. You write of medical doctors’ “obligation”: There is nothing in either the original nor the revised Hippocratic oath to support your contention.
    3. The health impact of tobacco smoke is a secondary effect which impacts the *public* health. The impact of guns, by and large, is an intentional effect which can be achieved with other means (for example, at Columbine, the intent was to blow up the entire school, but the bomb design failed.)

  • Armond

    seems doctors are also concerned with the use of guns by people who commit suicide…oh my bad…seems that is problem of the group of people…most likely to own guns

  • steward

    Why should doctors – or lawmakers – or anyone have the right to deny anyone the right to commit suicide? Seems that is the problem of you, that you wish a dictatorship in the United States.

  • Anonymous

    Guns don’t cause a problem unless some person does something bad, stupid or careless.As far as restricting the supposed “open availability of guns’ is concerned the problem is most proposed measures would do more to limit the rights of law abiding gun owners than to restrict those who should not have guns. Remember, many people use guns in self defense!

  • Anonymous

    I wasn’t throwing a name at anybody. If you took the time to look at Jim’s profile you would see that he is a Democrat. But be that as it may, from the way my comment is worded I am guessing Hyder may have been using a different screen name seven months ago.

    As far as “yo mama” goes, I am not conversant in ghetto slang.

    P.S. And what happened to your comment about 800 A.D. and flat earth? Did you think better of it?

  • Anonymous

    What makes you think I don’t care about innocent lives lost to any cause. Again it’s human action that causes problems with guns not the guns themselves!

    Do you give value to the innocent lives saved because a good person was able to defend themselves and other innocent people with a gun?

  • Anonymous

    Nobody is limiting your right to discuss any issue. We are already having an open discussion, Unfortunately for your side the facts don’t support your view. Likewise your side has less popular support (numbers x enthusiasm) than mine!

  • Anonymous

    Do you have a citation for that quote? From what I have seen as a general rule the anti-gun types have been more viscous in their arguments than the pro-gun types.

    As far as gun control goes, why do think it would be any more effective in controlling the bad guys access to guns than Prohibition was in controlling alcohol consumption?

  • Armond

    or why should doctors even be concerned with a two year old child drinking cleaning chemicals from under their home sink…

    or why should doctors slap your ass at the time of your birth

    or why should doctors be concerned with any “illness”

    since being concerned and helping people…to some…leads to nothing short of dictatorship

    so now we know the full story…of why you think the way you do and say the things you say

    mommy and daddy made you behave…and still today…you believe that you should be allowed to do what ever you want…and whoever questions you…and your behavior…is nothing less than a dictator

  • moderator

    Steward and Armond:

    It is time to agree to disagree. You have both made your points quite clearly. Please move on without further comment.

    Thanks,
    Moderator

  • moderator

    Armond and Stewart,

    It is time to agree to disagree. You have both made your points quite clearly. Please move on without further comment.

    Thanks,

    Moderator

  • Armond

    give me those numbers…then we will talk

    until then…the numbers we have to consider…are the numbers of innocent people…shot and killed with a gun

  • Armond

    Moderator…………….???

  • Armond

    some of your comments have been removed…so can not respectfully reply…but do say hi…to a very active moderator
    with voting rights we have a less than 0.00000013% of votes casted in this country…deemed fraudulent
    but some seek greater controls…to combat voter fraud
    in this country…30 people a day…die from gun related injuries
    to this…some suggest…no controls are necessary
    every time a gun is in used in this country to injure or kill in self-defense…a gun will be used to 4 times as often to “unintentionally” injure or kill…and 7 times as often to commit a crime that results in death or injury
    yet still…some hold the belief…no controls are necessary

  • Anonymous

    I don’t know where you could possibly be getting those numbers. 30,000? I have personally taken the time to sift through the numbers in the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports, and they’re not even close to 30,000. Murders committed with guns every year in the US have been in the neighborhood of 10,000 for the last few years, and as Steward already said, the numbers are, generally, still in decline. Whomever your source for that information was should now be highly suspect.

  • Anonymous

    Surgeon Generals since C. Everett Koop have been do-nothing figureheads. Remember, “We all gonna die of somethin’ sometime.”? And where has the last one been for the past four years and what’s she been doing? The current “acting” S.G. is more qualified and a real admiral to boot, rather then an Obama political pawn. http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/about/biographies/biosg.html

  • Mark G

    Unsafe at any speed.

  • Mark G

    Pulling a trigger is too easy. It can be done in a split second, without much thought, from a distance, in a moment of rage, or by accident.

  • Anonymous

    My doctors have no more business asking me about my guns than my mechanic has asking about what medications I take because some discourage operating motor vehicles. Time is money and I don’t need my bill inflated with irrelevant chit chat let alone logging such personal data in my “medical” records. However, as a certified firearms instructor I will be happy to share my knowledge and expertise with you on the firing line. (And I’ll only charge half your rates!)

  • Mark G

    There is no need for regular folks to get high powered automatic weapons. You can own all the single shot long rifles you want.

  • Anonymous

    “Why the NRA Is Blocking Obama’s Surgeon General Nominee”?
    Because the NRA and it’s congregants at the gun shows and on the firing ranges are fighting a losing battle. The adults among us will ascend to positions of meaningful decision making on the creation of a National Health Policy–because we demand it.
    If we are going to succeed in affording a universal health care delivery system we must control the vastly available, injury-creating consumer products. Guns gotta go!
    Or at least we must craft legislation to reduce the economic impact on human health.

  • Anonymous

    Blaming the NRA is senseless. They do what they do per the membership that pays them. Blame (the) GOP and the weak back boned Dems. The NRA has no legislative power of it’s own, and cannot advise and consent on presidential appointments. Put the blame where it belongs..YOUR representatives in Washington.

  • Anonymous

    When did parents lovingly pose their young children with their firearms? That is truly sick!

  • Anonymous

    Until our society achieves civility to the extent of the Swiss we should not allow firearms to become, or remain, ubiquitous in our country. Let’s start talking Guaranteed Annual Income like the Swiss. Let’s look at the other refinements that exist for the people in Switzerland. Let’s go from being the world policemen to the world model of civility.
    Until, then, it behooves us to make product liability laws, establish licensing, background checks, personal liability insurance requirements of the gun owners–the whole nine yards–as national public policy.

  • Armond

    mike…death by gun covers far more than murder

  • Zaidi

    Politics 101 says you never give your opponent across the aisle ammunition–even the perceived kind. Why would you submit your promising candidate to such a humiliating and grueling ordeal, if knowing their position on gun control would provoke the ire of the Republicans? Either the vetting process was not thorough enough; or, this is the usual ‘playing of politics’ in order to retched up anti-Republican votes on the eve of the mid-term elections–particularly in the face of a pending pandemic, named Ebola! For an administration that hates politics, they sure don’t let a day go by without playing their game of it. If you want to know how Politics is ‘played’, look to Lyndon B. Johnson and William Jefferson Clinton. They didn’t hesitate to go into the Republican snake pit to cajole, pet, stroke, threaten, embrace, and threaten their opponent to make deals that would advance their agenda. This current administration thinks too highly of itself to do that; preferring instead to rent a bus, and go on the well-worn and desiccated campaign trail to tell the people how the implacable Republicans are making it so difficult for our President to Lead!

  • Armond

    and to think…at some point in life…your doctor might even question…your ability to safely drive

    and just think…seems doctors and nurses…are on the front line of educating parents…on the use of baby car seats

    and capejack…when we speak of issues of mental illness…might not your request…when sitting in that seat…be that it is none of your doctor’s business

  • Mr. Brown

    The flu is a major health issue. The anti-vaccination movement is a major health issue. “Gun violence” is not a major health issue – it’s a societal issue that has nothing to little to do with the Office of the Surgeon General.

  • Anonymous

    Does your president have the power to sign an Executive Order to overcome a dangerous and reckless obstruction of the Surgeon-General in a health epidemic?

  • Anonymous

    This president chooses hard working individuals who, like himself, get the job done. I suspect that he is a tough, but fair task master and that he doesn’t tolerate ”do-nothing” figureheads. Murthy is obviously just one of those tough, hard-working people. Interesting that the 2 people who the president picked as his first choice have been South-Asian – Brain Surgeon, Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN fame who politely turned down the officer and now Dr. Murtha. I would have loved to see Dr. Gupta as Surgeon-General!

  • Mark Smallwood

    Again, obstructed by republicans. So he is having to name a czar (for Ebola). Republican obstructionism has turned our government into a world wide embarrassment !

  • PavePusher

    First Amendment.

  • Old Jarhead

    Yes, he named a “Czar” for Ebola. One that has NO MEDICAL TRAINING! Lots of good this guy is going to do, since he didn’t even show up for the very first Ebola meeting of this administration!

  • PavePusher

    “IT IS THE guns and semi-automatic with high powered ammunition that belongs on the battlefield not on our streets or in our homes.”

    You’ve just proved you have no idea what you are talking about, and thus you have no place in this discussion.

  • PavePusher

    You’ve just proved you have no idea what you are talking about.

  • Adrian

    Well, there’s a Surgeon General nominee with a medical degree from Yale. We could have him in charge of the Ebola situation if he’d ever get voted on. So there’s that.

    You (meaning Republicans, conservatives, libertarians, whoever) are clearly showing through your actions that you don’t want a medical doctor in charge of the response, so we got a non-doctor.

  • Adrian

    I’m sorry, if you were to end up with a bullet hole somewhere in your body, would you seek treatment from a social scientist? No, you’d go to a doctor, because GSWs (gun shot wounds) are a medical issue. Since GSWs are caused by guns, guns therefore have medical implications. They aren’t medical devices, and they aren’t directly medical issues, but they have health implications, just like things like air bags, helmets, seat belts, crumple zones, etc., all do. If we can involve doctors in the design and implementation of cars, planes, helmets, laws, etc., there’s no reason they can’t be involved in a discussion about guns, too.

    The only reason to be afraid of having a discussion, or gathering empirical data, is because you either know, or are at least worried, that you’re on the losing side. Let the conversation happen, and let the data speak for itself.

  • Adrian

    Conversely, when we have a worldwide Ebola epidemic, why would you hold up a confirmation vote on a Yale-trained medical doctor Surgeon General nominee? And he has a business degree from Yale as well, so it’s not like he won’t understand the business implications of any recommendations he makes about guns, or any other healthcare issue.

    Actions speak louder than words, and the actions show that conservatives are more concerned with keeping their precious guns than they are with dealing with a major international public health epidemic. I guess they think you can shoot Ebola with a gun and stay safe?

  • Adrian

    People in “acting” positions have only limited power because everyone knows that the actual office holder may come along at any time and change course. It’s the appointee equivalent of a lame-duck Surgeon General. Which isn’t to say that he isn’t qualified, just that he lacks the authority of having actually been appointed and confirmed.

  • Adrian

    Yes. Withhold the information, and then spew out propaganda. Don’t let the people make informed decisions on the basis of empirical evidence.

  • Geralt_0f_Rivia

    “The only reason to be afraid of having a discussion, or gathering empirical data, is because you either know, or are at least worried, that you’re on the losing side. Let the conversation happen, and let the data speak for itself.”

    I myself don’t know any gun owners that are even slightly afraid of having a discussion, or conducting studies, so long as they’re are conducted without bias, in an objective manner using the scientific method, then we’re not in the least concerned.

    We’re more concerned about people like Arthur Kellerman and Michael A. Bellesiles, peddling their demonstrable junk-science, as though it was science fact, but I agree with your last part, let the data speak for itself.

  • Geralt_0f_Rivia

    At the risk of sounding like an instigator, it’s this simple, privately owned firearms are here to stay, the 300+ million (Est) firearms in private hands here in the US, are not going anywhere, most republicans and 40% of Democrats like myself support the 2A. Gun control in most places in the United States is political seppuku, that’s why the anti gun “movement” is losing, and is why they are going to continue to lose.

    Of the 300,000,000 guns in the USA, there are 30,000 deaths by firearms per year, 60-65% are suicides, the rest are broken down into LEO and civilian justifiable homicides, accidents, and murders. that is less then 1/100 of 1% of the total guns in the US in private hands, that result in a death, I’ll repeat that, 0.01%.

    The United States is the most heavily armed populace on the planet, by nation, and yet homicide’s committed with firearms are down 49% since 1993.

    The UK, a favorite anti-gun “utopia”, has 3.5 times the overall violent crime rate of the US, and was recently named the most violent nation in the EU, sure they have less deaths by firearms then the United States, but they had less deaths by firearms long before they passed gun control laws, but now they’re awash in thugs armed with knives, chains, and clubs, and the occasional shotgun who think nothing of kicking down peoples doors and robbing them while they are home, does anyone seriously believe that is a victory?

    The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of gun violence is a direct result of drug/gang activity. We have banned both narcotics and felons from possessing firearms, and last I checked, drugs seem to be ubiquitous, and felons still manage to get firearms, if gun control laws were going to work, it certainly would have happened by now.

    When are you anti-gun folks going to learn the lesson of Prohibition and the War on Drugs, you cannot stop or control a black market, and If you ever got your way and managed to ban firearms, we would have a huge increase in violence and murders, thugs and criminals would be better armed then ever before supplied by a vast black market in firearms, and law abiding people would be at their mercy.

    This is why we fight you tooth and nail, and is why we will continue to do so. Our rights and liberties are non negotiable, and Americans don’t want what you’re selling, get it? In the end, gun rights is a concern within the body politics that transcends the two party system, and it is for this reason that gun control isn’t going to fly, at least not in the way that those in the ‘ban all guns’ camp wish it would.

  • Adrian

    Gun deaths ≠ gun murder.

    Gun murder < gun deaths.

    Gun murder ∈ gun deaths.

    Gun deaths = {murder, manslaughter, negligent homicide, suicide}, gun murder ∈ gun deaths.

    In English, that means that the number of gun deaths does not equal the number of gun murders, as you're trying to claim it does.

    Gun murders are fewer than gun murders. Why? Because gun murder is a particular kind of gun death, but not the only kind. Gun deaths includes murder, but also manslaughter, negligent homicide, and suicide (and possibly others that aren't occurring to me at the moment). Therefore, gun murder is only one element of the set of possible types of gun death.

    If you drew a Venn diagram, the circle representing gun murders would be completely inside the circle representing gun deaths, but would not completely fill it. All humans are mammals, but not all mammals are human. Likewise, all gun murders are gun deaths, but not all gun deaths are gun murders.

  • Adrian

    You’re only looking at one side of the equation here. Yes, mental health is an issue, but you’re making a few assumptions. First, that if we were 100% effective in identifying and treating people with mental illnesses, that guns would no longer be an issue. Second, that all people with mental health issues can be identified prior to them becoming violent. Third, that only people with mental health issues commit violent acts with guns. Fourth, that people without mental health issues at some point in time will remain free of mental health issues in the future. Fifth, that the only gun deaths we experience, or should be concerned about, are intentional ones.

    The first one is simply untrue. Not all people show symptoms.

    Second (and fourth), mental health issues aren’t only something you’re born with. Sometimes, sure. But other times, diseases, trauma, toxins, and other things can cause issues where there previously weren’t any.

    Third, some people aren’t mentally unstable, but commit violent acts anyway.

    Fifth, a bullet through the head, heart, or other vital organ will kill you just as surely when it’s fired negligently as when it’s fired intentionally. You could put a gun to your toddler’s head and pull the trigger, or you could leave your loaded gun accessible and let your toddler’s friend pull the trigger while it just so happens to be pointed at your toddler’s head. The bullet, and the toddler who gets shot, won’t care one way or the other.

    The presence of intent, and/or of certain mental illnesses, may increase the risk of death for others, but the absence of one or both of those factors does not eliminate the risk of death by gun. That is why we can’t just ignore access and control of guns, and only concentrate on mental health.

  • Adrian

    You’re making the wrong analogy with mechanics. A mechanic can and should ask you about how you drive, where you drive, etc., in order to determine the relevant risks to your car and your safety. If I drive my truck to and from work on the highway, and to the grocery store, I have different needs than if you drive yours off road, ford streams, etc. Without knowing the different situations we’ll be in, and the different risks we’ll subject ourselves and our vehicles to, the mechanic can’t make as good recommendations to us. We might need different types of tires, different brakes, different suspensions, different gearing ratios, etc.

    Doctors often ask what’s commonly known as “followup questions,” depending on the answers given to initial questions. If I have a gun but live by myself, there are different issues than if I have a child, and there are still different issues if I have a child with comprehension or impulse problems, or with understanding actions and consequences.

    Saying that a doctor shouldn’t ask about the presence of guns is like saying a mechanic shouldn’t ask whether you drive in snow and ice, off road, in extreme heat or cold, or anything else.

    Also, doctors don’t charge by the minute in most cases: they generally charge by the visit, and depending on the treatment given. So you won’t pay anything extra for being asked about your guns.

  • Aan Giffin

    So the current nominee Dr. Murthy is the best candidate of 893,000 licensed American physicians? Is there a more experienced less controversial physician available?

    The “Ebola czar” a physician or political operative? Is he the most qualified person to protect the American public or to “parrot” the Obama administration’s objective? What is the Obama administration attempting to accomplish with Ebola czar and Surgeon General nominee?

  • rfkolbe

    Semi-auto handguns and rifles with the exception of a couple pieces of metal are just like the weapons used in war. An AR15 is the M16 modified for domestic sale. Yes, it is the people holding them, but would you allow bazookas in the hands of the public or allow people to own tanks? No we wouldn’t. So “it’s the people” argument falls flat.

  • Old Jarhead

    And he could have just as easily named a physician that graduated from Yale. But he didn’t. He named a non-medical, partisan hack. Thank you.

  • JNWesner

    So, Aan, are you suggesting that any Presidential appointee be vetted first by the NRA, and if they disapprove a different choice should be made? And what the Obama administration is “attempting to accomplish” is to make the United States a safer place to live. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar; not every action has an ulterior motive.

  • Anonymous

    While I may agree with many, if not all, of your points, what exactly does the firearms position of a very well qualified and respected doctor and administrator have to do with doing his job as Surgeon General. Especially when the vast majority of doctors hold this same position.

  • http://weisenthalcancer.com/ Larry Weisenthal

    As the saying goes, you are entitled to your personal opinions, but not your
    personal facts. Gang related activity accounts for only a relatively minor
    fraction of all gun related deaths. The murder rate in the USA is four
    times that in England, where “violent crime” consists largely of fist
    fights and the like. Households with guns are twice as likely to
    experience a homicide and 16 times as likely to experience a suicide as
    households without guns. And so on (links provided in a post awaiting moderation).

    A major responsibility of the Surgeon General is to educate Americans about
    public health risks. Censoring data concerning the impact of guns and
    gun laws on public health is simply indefensible, as is censoring public
    officials and health care workers who attempt to discuss the
    implications of these data to public and individual health.

  • Old Jarhead

    She said nothing of the sort. But he has already espoused a political view, which seems to jive with the political agenda espoused by the administration where firearms are concerned. Yes, there are other highly qualified physicians who would be great as the Surgeon General.
    The Ebola “Czar” (can we just quit with assigning people as “Czars”) is a political hack with exactly NO medical training. He is there to “control the message” from the administration.

  • Old Jarhead

    Google the Gang Threat Assessment for 2012. The FBI reported that gang activity in some jurisdictions accounted for up to 90% of homicides add violent crime. Recidivist felons add to that number.
    The homicides in the UK are counted much differently than in the US. For instance, if a body is found in the US with apparent violent wounds not consistent with suicide, it is classed as a homicide. In the UK, that same victim would not be classed as a homicide until and unless a person is convicted of the crime.
    I would be very interested in your links. Most times, they are links which direct back to very much discredited and debunked studies, which often use areas where it is know there are a greater populations of felons and gangs, then compared to areas without the felons and gangs. Not a real honest attempt to get at the truth.
    Are you aware that the reason doctors were barred in FL from talking to patients about guns was because of a doctor who refused to care for a sick child because the mother refused to answer that question? If a doctor wants to question me about firearms, he really needs to be able to tell me his qualifications concerning firearms. My personal physician I trust, since he and I hunt together. We also attended the same CHL class, and we both carry. In fact, where I live, the doctors who carry seem to far outstrip those that don’t. Odd, huh?

  • Old Jarhead

    The vast majority? Have you polled physicians? Since here in West TX, the vast majority of physicians hunt, and most I have talked too have a CHL, and carry ALL the time, even in their offices.

  • Geralt_0f_Rivia

    “……but not your personal facts.”

    You’re absolutely right, so you’re halfway there, but according to the Gov’t, these are the facts.

    http : / / www . fbi . gov / about-us / cjis / ucr / crime-in-the-u . s / 2012 / crime-in-the-u.s.-2012 / offenses-known-to-law-enforcement/expanded-homicide/expanded_homicide_data_table_8_murder_victims_by_weapon_2008-2012 . xls

    http: / / www . policemag . com / channel / gangs / news / 2011 / 10 / 25 / fbi-street-gangs-caused-48-of-violent-crime . aspx

    “Households with guns are……..”

    In order to reach those statistics, a “researcher” has to remove all instances where a firearm is not fired in a self defense (SD) situation, totally ignoring the causation effect, aka as the “but for” test, since in many SD situations, upwards of 80%, just the presence of a firearm deters the crime, and ignoring this in order to achieve a more conducive statistic is the height of intellectual dishonesty, and quite frankly is one of the chief reasons why we, as gun owners and gun rights supporters do not trust members of the anti-gun tribe.

    “….16 times as likely to experience a suicide as households without guns”

    Japan has many restrictions that anti-gun people strive for and has about 700,000 privately owned firearms, yet they have twice the suicide rate as we do, so the fact that many people choose to end their lives using a firearm is not an effective argument since suicides that do not fall into the “cry for help” category simply find another way, like in Japan, where firearms are rarely used for such purposes.

    “The murder rate in the USA is four times that in England”

    You’re absolutely right.

    But you left out the part where the United States has four times the population of the UK, and the UK banned nearly all privately owned weapons, so where is the reduction in murders promised by gun control laws?

    We already have had a 49% drop in gun homicides and most folks do not even realize this.

    http : / / www . pewsocialtrends . org / 2013 / 05 / 07 / gun-homicide-rate-down-49-since-1993-peak-public-unaware /

    “Censoring data concerning the impact of guns and gun laws on public health is simply indefensible”

    Indefensible? Not at all, it simply runs counter to your argument. Privately owned firearms are not at all a health risk, that is just the newest tactic used by the anti-gun organizations to illicit an emotional, not factual response in people like yourself, who are likely, not a gun owner. It’s easy to call for laws that will not be applicable to you.

    You don’t have to like the concept of privately owned firearms, and if you choose not to own one, I’m fine with that, I respect your right to decide for yourself, but remember other people live here too, and your rights end, where others begin.

    I hope you find this information helpful.

  • Geralt_0f_Rivia

    Respectfully, I give no more credence to a doctor’s opinion in regards to firearms, then I would give to a firearms instructors opinion regarding my physiological well being.

    In other words, I don’t go to see my doctor, to get firearms advice or shooting tips, and I don’t consult a gun expert for heath tips or to have them harp on me to reduce my cholesterol or my intake of red meat. Pretty simple!

  • Geralt_0f_Rivia

    I more or less agree with your comment, but you kind of lost me there at the very end, where you make an ‘appeal to emotion’ based argument, as though having a SG in office will somehow contain an Ebola outbreak in and of itself.

    It’s this simple, cut all flights to nations with an Ebola outbreak, at least the incoming flights, until such time as the outbreak is contained or eradicated. Had this been done Thomas Duncan would not have been able to spread the virus to the US.

    Some European nations have done this, and from my viewpoint it seems the practical and prudent thing to do, but being a pragmatist myself, I guess that’s just me.

  • Adrian

    “You (meaning Republicans, conservatives, libertarians, whoever) are clearly showing through your actions that you don’t want a medical doctor in charge of the response, so we got a non-doctor.”

  • Adrian

    Well, I probably have a different perspective on this than you, but what about all the Americans in Africa right now? We have State Dept. diplomats, technical staff, couriers transporting classified material back and forth, and, of course, Marines guarding the embassies (which I did for three years). So, I guess you want to just say, “thanks for serving, sorry you got sent to Africa, too bad your friends and family are back in the US, and good luck until this whole Ebola thing blows over.”? Oh, and, “too bad you’re due to be discharged from the Marines this month, because we don’t want you here right now. Don’t worry, you can just live and work in Africa, despite a visa that doesn’t allow for that. Again, sorry we sent you there and won’t let you back. Semper Fi!”

    The idea that we can just close our airports to flights from Africa is beyond simplistic. How do you propose to get aid there? Disposable planes? Fly them there, and the planes and the crews can’t come back? Just send a different plane for the next trip, etc.? You’re not being a pragmatist; you’re being naive and callous.

  • Anonymous

    “Murthy’s views represent a consensus among medical professionals that gun violence is a major public health issue. Gun violence, including suicide, kills some 30,000 Americans every year, about the same number as car accidents. Cars are highly regulated for health and safety; guns, barely. Accordingly, the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, among many others, have called for stronger gun safety laws”

    @Old Jarhead — No. I have not polled all doctors but others in the business of polling have on more than a few occasions. As stated in this article, the consensus is that gun violence is a public health issue. You may agree or disagree (and this view has nothing to do with whether one hunts or not) but you can’t claim that your position is the majority view just because the ones you’ve talked to have CHL.

    And finally, neither Old Jarhead or Geralt_0f_Rivia have made the case for why this particular opinion disqualifies a person who is otherwise highly qualified to be Surgeon General.

  • Old Jarhead

    Absolute nonsense. What is hilarious is when partisan hacks, kind of like you, blame everyone else but the person or persons who make such s t u p i d decisions in this administration. No wonder nothing can ever be accomplished, with such incompetents in charge.

  • Rucker61

    If Reid would bring it to a vote, the Democratic majority in the Senate could easily confirm him.

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  • Old Jarhead

    Glad your post with links finally showed up. Anything from the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence can be ignored, as they have been caught on numerous occasions lying and falsifying data. Especially when Garen Wintemute and Arthur Kellerman are so liberally used as sources. You do know that Kellermans “study”, for which he refused to release his methodology for many years, stated at “43 times” more likely, then after his “research” was soundly debunked, he modified that number to “3 times”, to today, when he won’t even support his own research any more. One researcher, using the exact same methodology, proved that renting a home increases the odd of dying by gunshot to “99 times”.
    Nice try, but no cigar.

  • Old Jarhead

    Which is just more of your nonsense. Thanks for playing.