Is there anything he doesn’t know?

Dr. Steve Huff, being both a physician and an “authorized journalist,” is clearly a powerful authority on gun law issues–just ask him.

Fresh out of medical training I made the mistake of asking patients if they owned guns. I quickly learned either to skip the question or explain my intentions beforehand. In a good-hearted attempt to promote gun safety, I found myself accused of colluding with the “government gun grabbers.”

Is gun safety a standard part of the medical school curriculum these days? Or by “gun safety,” does the good doctor really mean gun avoidance?

Here’s what goes through my head: Say I have a .44 in my bedside table. What are the chances I will need it? If I do, will I get to it in time? Will I use it to my advantage? Should I keep it loaded? Safety on or off? Can I trust my 10-year-old to curb his curiosity? His friends?

Well, if gun safety was part of his med school curriculum, it seems to have left him with more questions than answers.

A deeply flawed but commonly cited survey from 1995 by Kleck and Gertz asserts that guns were used in self defense 2.5 million times per year. A 1997 analysis (published in the same journal, the Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology) suggests that the estimate is inflated by an order of magnitude or more.

“Deeply flawed,” he says, without offering any evidence, or even any explanation of how the study was flawed. That’s OK, though–we can just trust him.

On the other hand, a recent commentary in the New England Journal of Medicine states that having a gun in your home increases the risk of suicide by 90 percent to 460 percent and homicide by 40 percent to 170 percent — for every person in the home.

I’ve lived for years in a home with well over a dozen guns, and haven’t, as far as I can tell, come close to either suicide or homicide–I guess I must be some kind of statistical anomaly. So must many of my friends. When you come to think of it, it’s a wonder that there are still scores of millions of gun owners in the U.S.–one would think that most of us would have died off by now, as our guns whisper to us to kill ourselves, or as they jump into our killers’ hands, point themselves at us, and pull their own triggers.

On the contrary, guns might be more likely to result in harm if you are depressed or unstable, drink too much, use drugs, have young children, can’t see well, are uncoordinated, out of practice and/or are at low risk for being attacked.

Wouldn’t it be more efficient to simply say “if you’re not an ‘Only One‘”?

Far more gun deaths in 2005 resulted from suicide than homicide (17,002 vs. 12,352). Accidents added another 789. A gun might protect you from criminals, but what about yourself?

Hmm–guess I’ll just have to trust myself more than I trust criminals. I think I can handle that.

From a constitutional perspective, it’s up for grabs; expect a 5-4 ruling from the Supreme Court on the D.C. gun ban case.

Wow–a Constitutional law expert, too–this guy must be a genius.

From a public health perspective, the body of legitimate scientific evidence supports gun control.

Which “legitimate scientific evidence” would that be, now? Never mind–I almost forgot that we should just take his assertions on faith, and not ask for silly things like citations.

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