The director of the CDC is just the latest to claim that so-called gun violence is a public health crisis. For many of us in the gun world, this is something over which to roll our eyes over. How is the conscious actions of one person upon another a public health crisis and not a criminal issue?
But, as the folks over at Reason point out, the comments serve another purpose.
In Walensky’s view, the CDC needs to investigate the causes of gun-related deaths so that public policy will have a stronger empirical basis. “I swore to the president and to this country that I would protect your health,” she said. “This is clearly one of those moments, one of those issues that is harming America’s health….We haven’t spent the time, energy, and, frankly, the resources to understand this problem because it’s been so divided.”
Walensky’s disavowal of restrictionist motives and her lip service to finding common ground with “the firearm-owning community” would be more reassuring if it weren’t for two facts. First, CDC-sponsored research in the past typically has served an anti-gun agenda that aims to reduce homicide and suicide by limiting access to firearms. Second, President Joe Biden has consistently used “public health” rhetoric to give his preexisting gun control ambitions a scientific patina.
Reason then goes into the history of the CDC’s anti-gun agenda in some detail, and make no mistake, it definitely was an anti-gun agenda. Research where the deck was stacked in one direction generally requires some degree of either stupidity or bias, if not both.
Then they note where some of the latest back of money is going. They go on to note:
I do not mean to prejudge the quality and usefulness of studies like these. They may shed light on important issues that are unresolved by the existing literature. But the history of “public health” research on guns is cause for skepticism.
Biden compounds that skepticism by using “public health” as an all-purpose rationale for gun laws he has long favored. The president argues that his proposals—including constitutionally and empirically questionable policies such as prohibiting “assault weapons,” limiting magazine capacity to 10 rounds, requiring background checks for virtually all firearm transfers, and suspending people’s Second Amendment rights to prevent them from committing suicide or homicide—are well-validated responses to a “gun violence public health epidemic.” Violent crime, he says, “is actually a public health crisis.”
This framing, which Walensky obviously supports, implies that homicide and suicide are analogous to communicable diseases caused by deadly microbes that spread from person to person without conscious human choice. In fact, they result from deliberate decisions. The analogy shifts the focus from targeted policies that might change the factors underlying those acts to broad restrictions that impinge on the rights of many peaceful, law-abiding people.
Of course, here lately, the case can be made that impinging on the rights of peaceful, law-abiding citizens seems to be the preferred response to a communicable disease as well.
Regardless, what we’re seeing from Walensky is the CDC providing cover for President Joe Biden’s anti-Second Amendment agenda. In fact, the way Jacob Sullum phrased it, as giving “his preexisting gun control ambitions a scientific patina” is absolutely perfect. That’s precisely what it does.
Biden doesn’t necessarily view this as a public health crisis. He’s just convinced that this is a way to sell it to those who haven’t come down definitively on one side of the gun debate or the other. After all, in the day and age especially, public health is a nice buzzword. Plus, let’s be honest, people are taking a lot more from the government in the name of public health than they ever would have normally.
It’s pretty sneaky, really.
And Walensky, despite her protestations that she’s really just interested in the truth, is providing all of the cover in Biden could ask for. Is it any wonder that gun folks are skeptical?