Pediatric surgeons group backs Dettelbach

Pediatric surgeons group backs Dettelbach
(AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Steve Dettelbach isn’t likely to end up as controversial as David Chipman. Of course, that’s like saying HIV isn’t likely to end up as deadly as Ebola.

I mean, it’s true, but that ain’t exactly a high bar to clear.

Yet the usual suspects are all backing the former federal prosecutor. After all, he ran for office with an anti-gun platform, so you know they love him.

Now, another group is offering Dettelbach their support.

The nation’s largest organization of pediatric surgeons has endorsed President Biden’s pick to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, saying it is “counterproductive” to leave ATF without a permanent director when the number of gun-related injuries and deaths is climbing among American children.

In a letter sent to Senate leaders and the top Democrat and Republican on the Judiciary Committee, the American Pediatric Surgical Association called on lawmakers to confirm Biden’s ATF nominee, former U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach.

“The mission of the ATF is to protect the public from crimes involving firearms, which too often impact children,” the pediatric organization says in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by NPR. “APSA surgeons speak to the importance of this mission from firsthand experience in the care of children who sustain firearm injuries.”

The organization, which has more than 1,600 members, says it is “imperative” that ATF have a strong and effective director, and it argues that Dettelbach “is an individual who has the capability for such effective leadership.”

Gun-related injuries are now the leading cause of death for American children and teenagers, the New England Journal of Medicine reported this month, with the rate of firearm-related deaths rising 29.5% from 2019 to 2020 for people 19 years old and younger.

And I bet these doctors wonder why people tell them to stay in their lane.

Look, I get why pediatric surgeons would take a stand on something like this. All too often, it’s one of their number trying to put some kid back together after he or she was shot. That kind of thing plays on a person, even the stereotypically callous and arrogant surgeon.

What they don’t understand is how they only see one sliver of the picture when it comes to guns.

They see the horrible aftermath of certain crimes–crimes which absolutely no one is condoning. What they don’t see is the flip side of things.

Pediatric surgeons don’t see the results of a mother or father protecting their family from a home invader with a gun. They don’t see the children who don’t end up on their operating table because a gun put down a dangerous animal threatening the kid.

They don’t see a lot.

As a result, they suffer from a kind of bias similar to survivorship bias. They only see part of the picture and extrapolate an entirely wrong image of what’s happening.

It’s like the story of the bombers coming back from war shot up in various places. Experts looked and said they needed to armor those parts of the plane until someone pointed out these were the planes that made it back. The “experts” only saw part of the image and jumped to a conclusion.

That’s what these pediatric surgeons do.

Of course, it’s also worth noting that these groups don’t actually speak for pediatric surgeons as a whole. A lot of those doctors do see the whole picture. They know about all the good that firearms accomplish and they’re not on board with what this group is doing in their name.

That cannot be overstated because I’ve talked to some of these doctors. They know they’re bucking part of the medical establishment and are often kind of proud of it.

For those guys, they don’t care for Dettelbach anymore than I do, regardless of what some group says.