Anti-gun doctors and medical professionals are media darlings and useful tools for the gun control lobby, but as it turns out, the medical community (or at least one section of it) isn’t as enthralled with things like gun and magazine bans as the news media and gun control groups make it out to be.
A new survey of more than 11,000 surgeons conducted by the American College of Surgeons found that, while a majority of respondents believe that the ACS should play an active role in “advocating for policies and programs designed to lower the risk of firearm-related injuries and deaths,” support for policies that involve banning firearms and magazines is much lower.
Instead, the survey found the most support for policies that, frankly, are already in place.
Respondents were also asked to rate their support on a scale of 1 to 5 for 25 possible advocacy/policy initiatives, with 85.5 percent indicating that it’s important to support policy initiatives to reduce firearm injuries and deaths. Receiving the highest scores—4.4 or higher—were preventing people with mental illness from purchasing firearms; increasing penalties for dealers who sell guns illegally or bypass background checks and for straw purchasers (people who give guns to others illegally); enhancing the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS); and using NICS for mandatory background for all gun purchases from authorized dealers.
It’s already illegal for those adjudicated as mentally defective to purchase or possess firearms. It’s already illegal for firearms retailers to sell a gun without a background check or for purchasers to buy a gun for someone else. The NICS system is already in place, and it’s already being used for all gun purchases from authorized dealers.
Every one of the most popular recommendations is either already in place or would increase the penalties for violating existing laws. The only gray area that I see is the issue of those with mental illness purchasing firearms. It would have been nice to have seen a followup to get a better idea of what respondents were actually thinking, because there’s obviously a world of difference between stripping someone of their Second Amendment rights because they’ve adjudicated as mentally defective and taking their rights away because they’ve been prescribed an anti-depressant.
Still, considering how many doctors we see on TV or in print calling for bans on AR-15s and “high capacity” magazines, it’s worth noting that neither idea was particularly popular among the more than 11,000 surgeons who responded to the survey. Waiting periods, background checks on ammunition, “may issue” carry laws, and even bans on “ghost guns” are also less popular among these surgeons than we’ve been led to believe. That may be because gun ownership among these doctors is more common than you might think. The survey found that 42% of the responding surgeons said they own firearms, which is in line with the national average found in other polls.
Among ACS members who own firearms, 82 percent own long guns, 82 percent own handguns, and 32 percent own high-capacity magazine-fed semi-automatic rifles (totals exceed 100 percent because many respondents own more than one type of firearm). Study results also ascertained why they own firearms: 75 percent say for self-defense and 73 percent for target practice.
Reasons for gun ownership varied by gender. Women were more likely to own a gun for self-defense, while men were more likely to do so for target shooting and hunting. Urban respondents were more likely to own handguns; rural respondents more likely to own long guns. Nineteen percent said they had taken a concealed carry course. While 42 percent of ACS members keep firearms in their home, nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of ACS members have had some type of firearm training.
There are some interesting findings when it comes to attitudes about gun ownership too.
The injury prevention analysis included three questions about respondents’ attitudes toward gun ownership. Answers were just about even on whether gun ownership is beneficial or harmful, with 22.8 percent saying it’s beneficial, 21.6 percent saying it’s harmful, and 49.2 percent saying it’s both. Rural respondents viewed firearm ownership most favorably, with 32.3 percent saying it’s beneficial vs. 17.9 percent for respondents from large cities.
Regarding firearm ownership and personal liberty, 41.7 percent indicated that it protects personal liberty vs. 8.5 percent who said it limits personal liberty and 44.8 percent saying it did neither. Further, 73.7 percent of respondents indicated that firearm ownership is a constitutionally protected right.
Do you think 74% of the doctors on cable news networks opining about guns believe that we have a constitutionally protected right to own them? Heck, I doubt if even 7% of them actually think the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms.
That, to me, is the most interesting takeaway from this survey. Anti-gun doctors invariably try to convince their audience that they’re speaking for the medical community at large, when in fact physicians aren’t marching in lockstep in favor of more gun control. Not only are gun bans not as popular among doctors as the gun control lobby makes them out to be, there are plenty of surgeons who possess the very arms that Joe Biden and his anti-gun buddies want to make off-limits to the American people.