"Mission creep" in public health a Second Amendment issue

"Mission creep" in public health a Second Amendment issue

If one were to read the text of the Second Amendment, and one should, there are things you would see and things you wouldn’t, just like any other part of the Constitution.


For example, you’d see that the amendment was intended, at least in part, for national defense. You’d also see the often ignored phrase “shall not be infringed.”

What you wouldn’t find, though, is any proclamation that all of that text should go out the window if bureaucrats and physicians decided it was in our best interests to ignore it.

Yet that’s what some people seemingly believe we should do, all in the name of “public health.”

I couldn’t help but think of that as I read this from a Substack called Ivy Exile. It’s titled “Mission Creep,” and it really does get into some interesting stuff.

My last job at Columbia, up to this past summer, was curating the School of Public Health’s centennial, leaning into Covid for fundraising and newsiness. Even after a decade tangentially covering any number of public health professors, I’d still been awfully vague on what the field actually entailed—it was all so slippery and amorphous that I had to dig back centuries to start making sense of things.

Dating to the 1700s and earlier the roots of public health had been the noblest of endeavors, doctors and engineers collaborating for smarter hygiene and infrastructure. Up through World War II the emerging discipline(s) was primarily empirical and logistical in nature, saving countless lives.

And then came so-called social scientists, initially enriching the conversation but by the late 1960s beginning to declare every fashionable cause a public health crisis for which they held the scientific solution. At first it was a utopian sideshow, but gradually overtook the field—STEM standards giving way to fuzzy sloganeering.

Which isn’t to say that there aren’t still a bunch of legit and semi-legit practitioners out there, but that their funding and cultural orientation have become predominantly political and almost religious, built atop an all-abiding faith in universal technocracy run by credentialed experts like them.

The intentions are heroic: harnessing boundless expertise to mastermind a sustainable global society protecting humanity from itself. Yet the reality remains more complicated—true-believing technocrats biting off more than they can chew, and neglecting core competencies for grandiose schemes often making things worse.

With the fizzling of swine flu and Ebola, and then especially the shocks of Brexit and Donald Trump, came ever greater appetite for whatever it took for what needed to be done. So the coming of COVID-19 was the chance of a lifetime, opportunity to unleash decades of pent-up ambition and not let the crisis go to waste. Unintended consequences didn’t matter—it was all about moving the ball forward, and any collateral damage would just provide more impetus for further action.


Except, it wasn’t just COVID-19.

As we return to normal following the pandemic, we find public health officials not just looking at the next disease they can capitalize on, but being more than willing to manufacture reasons various other ills fall within their wheelhouses.

Enter the Second Amendment.

Our inner cities are a wreck. Violent crime is a problem and likely always will be. I’m pretty sure we were never meant to be herded into such confines in such numbers.

Because of this violence, though, public health officials seem ready to take on the Second Amendment as it’s written. They claim we should essentially ignore the right to keep and bear arms, all in the name of public health.

Doctors take to social media and even more traditional media, extolling people to support gun control and providing their own perspective, that of treating gunshot victims. They never seem willing to understand that their own experiences have a certain bias–they see those shot, sometimes without any context, but don’t see those who defended themselves with a gun precisely because they were armed.

Public health officials argue that this is something they should be examining, citing out-of-context statistics, all in what sure looks to me like a grasp for more power and authority.

As concern over COVID disappears, it seems these officials are desperate for the next thing.

By deciding to take on the Second Amendment, they think they’ve found it.

Well, they picked the wrong damn fight.


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