Lee’s note: This submission was sent by Mike Weisser who, when he writes on HuffPo, describes himself as a “firearms retailer, wholesaler, importer and firearms trainer and NRA Life member.”
Based upon some of his stories, Mike’s not a fan of the NRA or a Second Amendment, even though he markets himself as an “industry insider.” Based upon this submission, he’s not a fan of me either.
Why post it, you ask? Well, I’ve always wanted this site to be a free marketplace of ideas, where all opinions are welcome, including those from folks who are opposed to the lifestyle and freedoms we enjoy. I just want to make sure my readers understand the context of the submission, hence the rather lengthy intro.
Mike’s post needs one more clarification. He is responding to a guest post written by Dr. Robert B. Young. For some reason Mike refers to him as “Dr. Williams.”
Here’s Mike-The-Gun-Guy’s submission:
Dear Mr. Williams:
Like yourself I am also a certified NRA trainer and I also write a blog on guns.
I found the column by Dr. Williams to be nothing more than the latest attempt by pro-gun advocates to demonize the efforts by physicians to deal with patients who might be at risk for committing violent acts with guns, either against themselves or others. The fact that certain medical societies have called for strict controls over guns and/or the elimination of handguns does not say anything about the clinical relationship that exists between patients and physicians, and for Drs. Williams and Wheeler to pretend otherwise is to pander to the most ignorant elements that continue to inhibit any rational discussion about gun violence by promoting views that are without foundation or fact.
As a journalist it seems to me that you have the obligation before giving space to a “guest” editorial to at least check the so-called facts on which the editorial is based. For example, Dr. Williams says that physicians should use gun safety materials created by the NRA rather than rely on ideas advanced by medical colleagues. If you take the trouble to look at the NRA’s Eddie Eagle website you will note that they claim the materials were developed by “such qualified professionals as clinical psychologists, reading specialists, teachers, curriculum specialists, urban housing safety officials, and law enforcement personnel.” I have never heard of any physician who ever handed out educational materials to patients which did not have representation by physicians in the development of those materials. Further, I have never heard of any physician who ever handed out educational materials to patients where the individuals who prepared the materials were not identified by name, institutional affiliation and so forth. No such information appears on any Eddie Eagle brochure and for Dr. Williams to promote the idea that physicians should give such materials to their patients is outside the standard clinical practices to a degree that simply cannot be justified in any professional context. Further, the NRA’s claim that the Eddie Eagle program has “reached” more than 26 million children in all 50 states is bogus. They have never defined the word ‘reach,’ they have never published a single study to show whether anyone ever read a single brochure, and there is simply no credible evidence presented by them or anyone else of the link between their program and whether children have learned to be safer around guns. Again, clinicians do not give such non-validated information to patients about anything.
In addition to the fanciful notion that Eddie Eagle represents valid information from a clinical perspective, Dr. Williams also mis-states what happened in Florida. He states: “ There have been reports of doctors terminating care because of resistance to answering such questions.” In fact, the District Judge who initially heard the case could not find any credible testimony that backed up the statement of patients being denied health care because of their refusal to answer questions about gun ownership. And in the appeal to the 11th Circuit, the State of Florida very carefully ignored this issue, citing instead their concerns that patients would feel intimidated by physicians and therefore might answer such questions even if they didn’t want to do so. There is no law anywhere that compels a patient to answer any question whatsoever posed by a medical clinician, and such non-answers only become the basis for decisions about providing medical care if the question relates specifically to the medical issue for which the care was sought. Obviously, if someone comes to a doctor complaining of a sore throat but refuses to allow the doctor to look down their throat the medical treatment will cease at that point. Promoting the idea that a patient will be denied medical care because he/she doesn’t answer a general background question is the stuff of nonsense. And malicious nonsense at that.
If you are really the journalist you claim to be, I think it would be appropriate to give me the same space that you gave Dr. Williams. After all, the whole point of journalism is to hear both sides, right? On the other hand, if you view your role as giving license to only those individuals and groups who want to promote guns, regardless of the veracity of what they are saying, then journalism has been replaced by public relations, correct?