Is Gun Ownership a Public Health Issue?
margo at pnwhealth.com
Mon Oct 8 07:41:06 PDT 2001
How's that for a Monday morning question? We're not yet a month past the
terrorist attacks of September 11th, we're watching remarkable international
events unfold, and I open my AARP "My Generation" to find that question as
this month's opinion poll. Member or not, you can cast your vote at -
My Generation is a glitzy magazine that arrives in my mailbox courtesy of my
long-standing AARP membership (I am, but you do not need to be over 50 to
join AARP!). There is a reasonable health section called, Staying Alive.
Although the articles/news items are more teasers than really in depth,
complete health information (you can learn why hair turns gray on p. 10).
Sue Woodman's brief article was titled, "Doctors and Guns: Is Gun Ownership
a Public Health Issue? Ms. Woodman explains that about 1/3 of doctors are
gun owners, which was not a surprise to me. She noted that there are (at
least) two competing, rival MD associations - doctors Against Handgun Injury
vs. Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership. Among other things, the groups
debate whether doctor's should ask patients if you own a firearm. There are
arguments for both sides, and the director of the latter group noted,
"What's more, many patients don't want their doctors asking politically
motivated questions." Actually, I'd wonder more about how a doctor would
have the time to as you politically motivated questions in the brief
interaction you usually have!
The issue of firearms is a hot one in my family, and I have a wonderful
brother is a Gold Card member of the NRA. If you get into the debate about
whether or not people should own guns, you do get on to a political path,
and you're arguing against the Constitution. We've framed the conversation
as a safety issue in my family. My brother has an enviable, secure storage
system for his historical firearms, and all his firearms use safety locks.
For me, that's closer to the question. I imagine there is a way for a
provider to express concern about gun safety and the 30,000+ firearm-related
deaths in this country each year. If I was told of that concern and asked
if I had guns or knew someone who did and was asked to spread the word about
safety locks, that poses a very different question and side steps the more
political gun ownership debate. With reports of gun sales and requests for
permits to care concealed guns rising since the September 11th attack, this
issue will only grow.
The question also reminded me of useful information Nancy Lee shared in her
Social Marketing workshop back in the Spring where she referenced some great
work done by John Britt and his colleagues at the Tacoma-Pierce County
Department of Public Health. If you are not familiar with the project,
1-877-LOK-IT-UP, visit HERE in WA for more details -
If you feel strongly about this issue, you can "vote" here or again vote
online at www.mygeneration.org Margo
Email: margo at pnwhealth.com
PNW SOPHE Job Bank: www.pnwhealth.com/jobbank.htm
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I just wish (s)he didn't trust me so much." Mother Theresa
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