CDC

The CDC's Framing of Homicide and Suicide As 'Public Health' Issues Provides Cover for Biden's Gun Control Agenda

The agency returns to a research area where it has caused much controversy in the past.

|

As director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Rochelle Walensky has a lot on her plate right now—perhaps too much, given her history of  misrepresenting COVID-19 research, promoting dangerously mixed messages about vaccination, issuing confusing and scientifically dubious advice, and laying claim to vast powers that Congress never gave her. But Walensky's pandemic-related duties did not deter her from publicly switching focus to a highly contentious subject that has always spelled trouble for the CDC: gun violence.

"Something has to be done about this," Walensky told CNN last week. "Now is the time. It's pedal-to-the-metal time."

Although that metaphor suggests hasty action, Walensky emphasized that she is not calling for new gun controls. "I'm not here about gun control," she said. "I'm here about preventing gun violence and gun death."

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.

Beginning in 1997, responding to complaints from the National Rifle Association (NRA), Congress prohibited the CDC from spending taxpayer money on gun violence research. That ban was lifted in 2018, and Walensky is taking advantage of the new leeway by funding studies aimed at "understanding the root causes of gun violence," as CNN puts it.

CNN presents the NRA's opposition to CDC research in this area as politically motivated interference with science. But as Don Kates and two other gun policy scholars noted in a 1997 Reason cover story, the studies funded by the CDC were controversial precisely because they seemed designed to promote a political cause.

"Contrary to [the] picture of dispassionate scientists under assault by the Neanderthal NRA and its know-nothing allies in Congress, serious scholars have been criticizing the CDC's 'public health' approach to gun research for years," noted Kates and company. They described some of that criticism:

In a presentation at the American Society of Criminology's 1994 meeting, for example, University of Illinois sociologist David Bordua and epidemiologist David Cowan called the public health literature on guns "advocacy based on political beliefs rather than scientific fact." Bordua and Cowan noted that The New England Journal of Medicine and the Journal of the American Medical Association, the main outlets for CDC-funded studies of firearms, are consistent supporters of strict gun control. They found that "reports with findings not supporting the position of the journal are rarely cited," "little is cited from the criminological or sociological field," and the articles that are cited "are almost always by medical or public health researchers."

Further, Bordua and Cowan said, "assumptions are presented as fact: that there is a causal association between gun ownership and the risk of violence, that this association is consistent across all demographic categories, and that additional legislation will reduce the prevalence of firearms and consequently reduce the incidence of violence." They concluded that "incestuous and selective literature citations may be acceptable for political tracts, but they introduce an artificial bias into scientific publications. Stating as fact associations which may be demonstrably false is not just unscientific, it is unprincipled." In a 1994 presentation to the Western Economics Association, State University of New York at Buffalo criminologist Lawrence Southwick compared public health firearm studies to popular articles produced by the gun lobby: "Generally the level of analysis done on each side is of a low quality. The papers published in the medical literature (which are uniformly anti-gun) are particularly poor science."

Kates et al. described Arthur Kellerman, then director of Emory University's Center for Injury Control, as "the CDC's favorite gun researcher," and his studies give you a sense of the agency's research agenda. In a 1993 New England Journal of Medicine article, for example, Kellermann and his colleagues reported that "keeping a gun in the home was strongly and independently associated with an increased risk of homicide." Specifically, the risk factor was 2.7, leading to the popular gloss that "keeping a gun in the home nearly triples the likelihood that someone in the household will be slain there."

Kates and his collaborators explained some of the problems with that conclusion. More on that here.

In a 1998 study published by The Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery, Kellermann and his coauthors reported that "guns kept in homes are more likely to be involved in a fatal or nonfatal accidental shooting, criminal assault, or suicide attempt than to be used to injure or kill in self-defense." Specifically, they said, "The number of unintentional shootings, criminal assaults, and suicide attempts involving a gun kept in the home exceeded the number of self-defense and legally justifiable shootings by a ratio of 22 to 1. Guns kept in homes were four times more likely to be involved in an unintentional shooting, seven times more likely to be used in a criminal assault or homicide, and 11 times more likely to be used in an attempted or completed suicide than to be used to injure or kill in self-defense."

One glaring problem with this study is that Kellermann's team limited its analysis to cases in which guns were used to "injure or kill" someone. As scholars such as the Florida State University criminologist Gary Kleck have been pointing out for decades, counting only shootings vastly underestimates the use of guns for self-defense, which according to survey data typically involves nothing more than brandishing a weapon to deter an attacker.

Given this history, it would be understandable if gun rights advocates were concerned that the CDC's renewed interest in firearm deaths could serve mainly to produce anti-gun factoids. Walensky is keen to reassure them.

"We cannot understand the research [on] firearm violence, firearm injury, without embracing wholeheartedly the firearm-owning community," Walensky told CNN. "My job is to understand and evaluate the problem, to understand the scope of the problem, to understand why this happens and what are the things that can make it better—to research that, to scale that up, to evaluate it and to make sure that we can integrate it into communities….Oftentimes [there] will be escalating events that occur that might lead to a suicide or a homicide, and what we really need to do is understand the root causes of that. The firearm injury is probably the most distal part of what happens. It is the end event. What are the 10, 12, 15 things where we could have intervened before that singular event?"

CNN mentions a couple examples of CDC research grants that gun control skeptics might view as unobjectionable. "In one of those projects, gun stores in Colorado have developed a suicide awareness program," it says. "Another project in Vermont educates children about how to safely use and store guns." But other CDC grants raise the possibility that the agency is back in the business of supplying fodder to gun control supporters.

One study aims to "understand disparities in firearm mortality and to conduct innovative and more sensitive and precise evaluations of the effects of policies designed to improve firearm safety." Its findings "will be used to inform how firearm ownership varies across populations, communities, and time and how this variation relates to differential firearm homicide and suicide risk among subgroups."

Another study will "examine whether personal firearm ownership moderates [i.e., affects] the impact of individual and community opioid-related harm on individual firearm suicide risk." It also will "examine whether firearm availability moderates the impact of community opioid-related harm on firearm suicide rates."

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.

Consider the "red flag" laws that Biden favors, which authorize courts to suspend the Second Amendment rights of people who are deemed a threat to themselves or others. A 2020 RAND Corporation review found no scientifically sound studies indicating that such laws prevent either mass shootings or violent crime generally. It found "inconclusive evidence" that they prevent suicides, which the available data indicate is the justification for a large majority of gun confiscation orders. But even if we accept the estimates regarding suicide, they suggest that 90 to 95 percent of people whose guns are seized would not have killed themselves had they retained their firearms.

Is a 5 percent risk of suicide a good enough reason to suspend someone's Second Amendment rights for a year (or for up to five years, as California allows)? Civil libertarians are apt to be skeptical. But to public health specialists, preventing five or 10 deaths for every 100 interventions may look like an appealing proposition.

More generally, the model red flag legislation produced by Biden's Justice Department evinces an almost complete lack of concern for the serious due process issues raised by depriving people of the constitutional right to armed self-defense based on suspicions about what they might otherwise do. From a civil libertarian perspective, that attitude is hard to fathom. From a public health perspective, which sees reducing deaths as the overwhelming priority, this system is more likely to make sense, especially if the analysis ignores the potentially lethal consequences of preventing people from using guns in self-defense.

Biden's "public health" rhetoric applies a quasi-medical, pseudoscientific veneer to policies that should be critically examined on their merits. It implies that contentious measures are beyond serious debate, because public health experts know how to control epidemics, and their wisdom should not be questioned. Just as politicians cited the threat posed by COVID-19 to justify sweeping restrictions on millions of Americans, whether or not they were actually infected by the coronavirus, Biden cites the threat posed by violent crime to justify broad interventions that affect millions of Americans, whether or not they pose any sort of danger to public safety.

Perhaps Walensky's approach will be different. But the fact that an infectious disease specialist takes it for granted that people with that sort of training have as much claim to expertise in this area as criminologists and sociologists gives one pause. Does treating homicide and suicide like contagious diseases provide new insights, or does it conceal the underlying reality? Given Walensky's readiness to fight actual diseases with population-level restrictions on behavior, it seems likely that she is sympathetic to similarly broad interventions against gun-related deaths.

NEXT: California Takes a Big Step Toward Legalizing 'Missing Middle' Housing

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Sullum is a dinger

    1. I made over $700 per day using my mobile in part time. I recently got my 5th paycheck of $19632 and all i was doing is to copy and paste work online. this home work makes me able to generate more cash daily easily. simple to do work and regular income from this are just superb. Here what i am doing. Try now………

      Click Below Webpage………….. VISIT HERE

    2. Seriously I don’t know why more people haven’t tried this, I work two shifts, 2 hours in the day and 2 in the evening…AWs And i get surly a check of $12600 what’s awesome is I m working from home so I get more time with my kids.

      Try it, you won’t regret it!…….. VISIT HERE

  2. The CDC’s Framing of Homicide and Suicide As ‘Public Health’ Issues Provides Cover for Biden’s Gun Control Agenda

    I remember hashing this out in the comments over ten years ago…

    1. Suicide As ‘Public Health’

      Meanwhile, abortion continues to be represented by the exact same people as ‘my body, my choice’.

      Just shoot me.

      1. Team blue apparently prefers to use drone strikes now. As long as there are innocent children nearby.

        1. You misspelled Clumps of cells.

        2. Norms restored.

        3. I think the preferred terminology is post-pregnancy woman’s healthcare from aerial platform. For the womyn, who are, of course, the hardest hit during times of war.

    2. I mean… democrats basically promised this prior to the election. But other than that, who would have ever known!

    3. There is no medical question with regard to how gunshot wounds can be unhealthy. Everything else is social policy.

      1. Depends on where in whom.

      2. Preventing crime is 100% effective in preventing gun violence. Why doesn’t anyone study how that affects “gun violence”.

    4. The CDC claimed it had the power to prevent eviction in the name of public health.
      They claim an unlimited amount of power in the name of public health.
      Surely they could ban certain guns, assault rifles, high capacity magazines, whatever they want because of public health.
      I predict a ban on lead in ammo for public health reasons.
      That will further restrict supply and increase the cost of gun ownership

  3. This is why we can’t have nice things.

    1. Let’s hope she is among the first to go door-to-door to confiscate guns.

      1. I’m sure everyone will do the “right thing”.

      2. If she is on your front step, she is trespassing. Just have an armed black security guard present.

        1. Biden did once say, “[If] you want to keep someone away from your house, just fire the shotgun through the door.” Maybe have the armed black security guard do it.

  4. The CDC has always reported on various types of trauma, suicides and drug overdoses. Gunshot injuries, accidental or intentional are no different. They are very common. This week they have several articles about benzodiazepine overdoses.

    If they report on motor vehicle accidents does in make them anti-car?

    I think some people are too reflexive about this.

    1. “CDC reports wet roads cause rain.” – Echospinner

      If they report on COVID among the homeless does that make them anti-renter?

      Seriously, try to do even the basic level of research before posting. The CDC isn’t and hasn’t been barred from reporting (note your switch from researching) gun deaths. They’re banned from doing the research because that’s the DOJ’s job the same way preventing vehicle deaths is the NHTSA’s job.

      1. One would think the CDC has enough on its plate dealing with biological threats rather than getting out of its lane, but the Left seems to think public health might be a work around pesky limits on government authority.

        1. “…but the Left seems to think public health might be a work around pesky limits on government authority…”

          It’s worked well for them so far.

          Citing Kellermann in these articles is old and busted. David Hemenway and Phillip Cook are some of the go-to guys lately. Just as biased, but not quite the howler (at least that I’ve seen) of using North Philly firearms ownership and violence rates as a proxy for that of the rest of the country.

          1. I remember a few years ago an article titled “An Interstate Study of Gun Ownership,” or some such thing. I think it was Hemenway, but I could be wrong. The “interstate” part was technically correct. But, if one looks at the data sources, numbers were taken from a total of two neighborhoods (presumably not chosen for their low crime-rates), in two cities with exceptionally high violent crime rates, and two States with, yeah, you guessed, very high violent crime rates. And, also in keeping, there was not one single mention of DGUs.

            It is simply, a fluff piece, based on carefully cherry-picked stats in cherry-picked neighborhoods, attempting to prove that homes with guns were a zillion time more dangerous than homes without guns.

            Of course, the paper seemed to assume that the reader would assume that these homicide levels were typical of populations in the USA. Yeah. Right.

      2. Oh c’mon.

        Trauma of any kind is very much a medical public health issue. Go spend some time in the ED at Shock Trauma in Maryland, Detroit Receiving, Metrohealth Cleveland, Harborview Seattle, to name a few.

        So your link is what. Just data on where this type of injury is most likely to occur. Is this a threat to your gun ownership? Heck every adult in my family has at least a handgun and can shoot.

        Ya know when that patient shows up this is very important for the ED doc, Surgeon, Radiologist, Nurse, whomever is dealing with that injury to know everything they can.

        I don’t deal with the DOJ or the NHTSA. Those are not medical agencies. The CDC is just a resource among others.

        You gonna tell me that medical resources are “not their job” well eff that. Help or get out of my way.

        Rounds start at 7:00 am. Be there and ready.

        1. CDC should stay in it’s lane. It was wholly unprepared for this pandemic as will it be for the next one. At the local level, when I worked for a state CDC, it was overwhelmed by H1N1.

          It really doesn’t matter where the injury might occur; it matters where the injury has occurred. And with the patient right in front of them, they have the opportunity to discover this.

        2. If the CDC actually studied and published what you claim to want – useful stuff about how to prepare for and treat trauma, there would never have been any controversy. What they studied and published instead was flagrant political advocacy disconnected from either medical purpose or their mission.

          1. But he already knows that.

        3. So your link is what.

          Refutation of your notion that the CDC is being barred from reportings statistics.

          Of course, now that you dismiss it, it’s also evidence of your unprincipled stupidity.

        4. “Go spend some time in the ED at Shock Trauma in Maryland, Detroit Receiving, Metrohealth Cleveland, Harborview Seattle, to name a few.”

          That is basically the problem with doctors and gun control. They see people with gunshot wounds. They don’t see people who didn’t get raped, robbed, or murdered because they had a gun to defend themselves with, or because the criminals were deterred by the possibility.

          The only see the cost, not the benefits, and tend to think that’s all there is. The cognitive flaw isn’t limited to just guns, by the way. It pervades the medical community’s reaction to just about everything.

    2. “I think some people are too reflexive about this.”

      Did you even read the article?

      1. If not read it and this one:

        https://reason.com/1997/04/01/public-health-pot-shots/

        Given the history of gross bias on the part of the CDC and it’s preferred supporters [such as the New England Journal of Medicine], I do not believe I can possibly be “reflexive” enough.

    3. Except in none of these other items are they explicitly advocating and taking positions on controversial political topics.

      Furthermore, these studies used explicitly and repeatedly to support political gun control positions, despite the fact that crime is completely outside the purview and mandate of the CDC.

      1. “…despite the fact that crime is completely outside the purview and mandate of the CDC.”

        To be fairrrrrrr, the CDC does compile and list statistics for violent death as one of many causes of deaths that they tabulate. Their Morbidity and Mortality releases can be stunning reading, regarding the ages and races of victims of violent death.

        The tl;dr is that Blacks suffer from violent crime a lot. As in, the violent death rate for Black senior citizen men, is on par with the violent death rate of White Males 19-24.

        1. To be fair, they are a component. The fact that one man was shot is important to doctors. They, after all, have to treat the gunshot wound.

          The fact that that shot saved a family from being beaten, robbed, or raped is beyond their purview, or even the medical field’s ability to measure.

          Furthermore, the connection between gun laws and gun violence (which typically have inverse effects to the initial presumption when illegal firearms are available) makes this incredibly clear. This is why the medical field is uniquely unsuited to determining gun control. They see only one side of the issue, not the effects on the wider world, and definitely not the effects that the regulations will have.

    4. ‘Has always reported on,’ oddly, no the fuck they haven’t. Mission creep into areas that were not disease-related happened fairly recently, but, by all means, make bullshit excuses and accuse others of being too reflexive.

      1. Trauma is not at all non related to morbidity and mortality,

    5. The CDC had literally stated up front, the last time they went on one of these crusades, that their aim was to eradicate gun ownership. There’s no particular reason to forget that.

      Public Health Gun Control: A Brief History — Part I by Dr. Timothy Wheeler

      I personally have as little interest in the CDC’s perspective on gun control, as I have in the FBI’s perspective on kidney transplants. This is criminology, not medicine, and doctors are singularly ill equipped to handle it.

    6. “understanding the root causes of gun violence”

      That’s easy. We have a criminal justice regime that provides financial incentives for turf wars.

      Do any of the CDC memos mention that?

  5. I mean, I’d argue people dying is a matter of public health.

    And quite frankly, I never see America getting rid of guns or even really enacting meaningful gun control. If Sandy Hook is any indication, America is by and large willing to accept many, many avoidable deaths to keep their guns. No amount of research (which, surprise- less guns = less homicides/suicides just due to removing such an easy tool for the purpose) is going to sway the political sides.

    1. The safest 3 states in the Union are all Constitutional carry.

      DC and Chicago tried that gun ban thingy. Criminals don’t follow the rules.

      The CDC should stick to monitoring runs on Pepto.

    2. “less guns = less homicides”

      BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.

      1. Even if that were true you still have to assume more laws = less guns, which also does not appear to be true

      2. Less violent criminals = less homicides.

        But that’s probably racist or something.

        1. More gun control = less suicides. It’s easier to kill yourself with a gun than a knife or collecting enough prescription pills etc.

          If you don’t care about suicides or accidental deaths from guns, then go ahead get rid of all gun control laws. The statistics do show some reduction in violent crime from increased gun control, but the correlation isn’t nearly as strong as for suicide and accident prevention. Illegal guns and imported guns across state borders are readily available for criminals. Potential suicides tend to buy their guns legally (because they aren’t criminals).

    3. I mean, I’d argue people dying is a matter of public health.

      So we’re repealing the 21st Amendment? Alcohol causes a lot more deaths than firearms.

      1. McDonalds to be forced to shutdown.

        1. Mandatory morning calisthenics.

    4. Fewer guns equals fewer homicides with guns. In the UK they don’t have guns, so they poison and stab each other.

      You can argue that the US has a problem with suicide and homicide.
      Sure. But you can’t say guns are the cause. And focusing on them ignores what the real causes are. Black markets are the biggest culprit for homicide. Guns aren’t the problem. They’re the solution to a lack of access to courts for settling disputes. Guns make suicide easier I suppose, but mine are locked up tight. Nobody’s using mine for anything without my approval.

      Guns are tools. They’re not a health issue. When they’re used to kill people it’s an indication of something else. They’re a symptom, not a cause.

      1. As I have no hard feelings about you, I can say I have to agree with most of what you are saying here. I was in a discussion with a defeated Australian bootlicker a few weeks ago here on Reason, and I told them that guns being available certainly makes them the first choice when somebody wants to kill someone, but that this is just a matter of choice of tool.

        You also don’t even have to add “I suppose” after “guns make suicide easier”, because that is a good thing. If someone wants to consensually kill themselves, a gun sounds like an efficient, pain-free solution. None of my business.

        And the utility to having an armed public far outweighs the price a society pays for the presence of guns. We also pay for cars, electricity and so on. We pay that in the currency of accidents, reckless driving and so on. Guns are the one area where authoritarian pieces of shit don’t want you to do the math of cost vs. benefit. Guns are in their way. They make authoritarians think twice and three times about their steps. That makes them so precious.

        1. There are cases in which suicide is the rational choice. Since we don’t make it easy to commit suicide with medical help so that it is quick and painless, then access to a gun may well be the next best way to do the job without involving other people (death by cop, running your car off a cliff, questionable poisons, etc.).

          “Death is every man’s right” Heinlein.

      2. The UK also doesn’t have a narco state on its southern border.

        Aside from the federal government, we all know where the guns of crime come from. They don’t come from law abiding citizens or CCP holders.

      3. Nice post, sarc, Complete thoughts, critical thinking, free of fallacies, not a hint of tongue in cheek.

        Just one suggestion. Change your password. The smart-ass high school sophomore that uses your account most days is a little bitch.

    5. Show me a neighborhood with lots of gun homicides, and I’ll show you a neighborhood where people cannot depend on the police and courts for conflict resolution. So they do it themselves. “Gun violence” is a symptom of failed government, not violent guns.

    6. The first thing the taliban did was to start confiscating guns.

    7. No amount of research (which, surprise- less guns = less homicides/suicides just due to removing such an easy tool for the purpose) is going to sway the political sides.

      They’re allowed to compile and report statistics. What they aren’t allowed to do is research and support guidances for medical professionals and departments of pulic health. If no amount of research is going to sway the politics, save the research $ and just report the facts.

    8. “I mean, I’d argue people dying is a matter of public health.”

      Please add to the number as soon as possible; make the world a better place.

    9. It’s good you accept this, now stop crying and be thankful those guns preclude shit like Covid concentration camps.

    10. “surprise- less guns = less homicides/suicides”

      Less violent criminals = less homicides. People cause crime not things. Cars don’t cause drunk driving. Carpenters tools don’t build houses.

      If guns are an easy tool for homicide they’re an even easier tool for self-defense. Most violent criminals are young and quite capable of killing without any weapons. Many victims are not young or strong and having a gun is the best option for them to defend their lives.

    11. It’s the Centers for Disease Control, not the US Dept. of Health.

  6. Any word on CDC wanting to ban woodchippers?

    1. If they start reading the comments section here, they just might.

  7. You can’t prove a negative.
    I used to work for a Company whose corporate offices were in a not so nice section of town. Every time I went there I carried a pistol. One evening I was asked to give two of our customer’s reps a ride to their hotel. It had just gotten dark. I was on crutches due to a knee injury. Between me and the two women I was with we had about $10,000 worth of computers, cell phones and other items on us. As we were approaching my car, there were four guys leaning against another car passing a bottle around. When they saw us they started towards us. I slid my jacket aside revealing my pistol in a shoulder holster. They looked at it, got into their car and left. The women with me were talking with each other and never even noticed. I can’t say that something would have happened, I don’t know. So how do you count something like this, the answer is that you don’t.

    1. Gary Kleck tried, IIRC. I’m not sure how you’d go about validating stories like yours. Except that pretty much everyone who I know, virtually and in the flesh, who carries a gun as a matter of course, has one or more stories like yours.

    2. I believe the book More Guns, Less Crime studied this and arrived at annual occurrences of no discharge firearm self defense use.

  8. Walensky emphasized that she is not calling for new gun controls. “I’m not here about gun control,” she said. “I’m here about preventing gun violence and gun death.”

    Social distancing will solve this. Everyone has to stand 2 miles apart from each other. And wear a mask.

    1. Are bandanas allowed?

    2. Those are my neighbors, and they also hate facial recognition software.

  9. If gun grabbers are so concerned about gun violence, why advocate for policies that will increase gun violence?

    You can implement a ban on paper and not enforce it, leaving the status quo. Or you can implement a ban and try to disarm people, which will make Chicago look serene compared to the amount of violence that will happen.

    If I were concerned about Americans dying at the point of a gun “cause the next Civil War” would be pretty far down my list of things to do.

  10. Using the “public health” model is a transparent ploy to short-circuit what’s left of the protections for individual rights because gee we can’t worry about civil rights–it’s a public health emergency!

    1. And they’ve already got plenty of evidence that most courts will roll over and play dead if they claim that.

  11. The push to frame gun violence as an epidemic comes across as worrisome when Justice Breyer gives a dissenting opinion on the eviction moratorium that says the Left wing of SCOTUS thinks the Executive should have unlimited power with regards to health issues.

    1. A bit understated, but very much yes.

  12. “I swore to the president and to this country that I would protect your health,”

    That’s really impressive. Unfortunately the president swore an oath to the country he would defend the constitution. He has no authority to deprive anyone of their natural right to keep and bear arms.

    Fuck off bitch.

  13. “I’m not here about gun control,” she said. “I’m here about preventing gun violence and gun death.”

    “I’m from the government and I’m here to help!”

    1. They’re not concentration camps, they’re quarantine hotels.

      1. Remote resorts.

  14. Gun nuts treat guns as a god-given right, so I don’t see why normal, sane people can’t treat gun deaths as a quasi-natural phenomenon as well.

    Gun nuts muddle the message on human agency anyway. As conservative types, they’re likely to only see threats that come in the form of human agents. (Boy, evolution must have been an utter tribal bloodbath for our species.) This is why they ignore climate change, viruses, hurricanes, heart disease, and all manner of massively more immediate threats to human life in favor of a “strong on crime” model that only cares about which swinging dick is behind the events. Someone has to be to blame! Blame someone!

    Fine, lock up the NRA for being arms peddlers and merchants of death. There are perps aplenty in this particular debate.

    1. This weekend I took a friend shooting who’d never shot a scary black rifle before. First I dialed it in with the help of my friend looking through a scope, then their turn. Every shot landed in a 6″ target at 50 yards with a red dot, no magnification. My friend was so impressed with themselves they took the target home as a trophy.

      No humans were harmed. No animals either. Just some innocent pieces of paper. That poor paper! Who’s going to defend the paper?

      1. And to make it even scarier, we were shooting green tips. As in I’ve seen these punch through an I-beam at a hundred yards. Had to check to be sure the sparks didn’t start a fire.

        Why? Why the fuck not? In a free country you don’t have to justify yourself. You don’t have to ask permission and obey orders. Just don’t fuck with anyone and you’re all good.

        1. “Why? Why the fuck not?”

          Tony is not into trusting adults with their property. He wants to trust people with drugs, chemicals, alcohol, cars, electricity and other potentially lethal items, but he only does that to support the authoritarian blue agenda. He is attempting to make it more popular with gullible youths and drugs do the trick.

          1. You’re right that adults like me hold nuanced positions. On its face, maximum liberty with respect to access to deadly weapons is likely to be… debatable. There are no gods, so there are no god-given rights, and even your most basic rights are contingent.

            So with every one of these risky behaviors, societies weigh the costs and benefits and sometimes decide that the costs are worth the benefits. A democratic society exercising its most basic freedom gets to decide these things for itself.

            Just not with a constitution radically interpreted to place the regulation of deadly weapons largely out of the hands of democratic will. It sounds absurd because it is. You can’t even explain with data why this right is worth the extremely high cost of tens of thousands of lives per year. Not by a long shot.

        2. We were using up my old Vector illuminated 9mm this summer, took my son out to a friend’s farm for his first time shooting.

          Nothing quite like tracers for learning point shooting!

      2. I have killed probably 50,000 paper targets, steel plates, clay birds, etc. over my lifetime plus some plastic soldiers and tin cans. Never killed a person, just some deer and antelope, which I ate. Democrats are scared of me.

    2. Other issues might be more pressing as of now in our country because the 2nd Amendment is still intact.

      Mollycoddled, defeated, whiny, leftist inbreds will be wiped off the stage in due time and people will continue to enjoy their freedom against your will.

    3. “Fauci’s CDC should really be looking harder at how to prevent the HIV epidemic.” – Tony

      1. I think it would be reasonable to ban gayness in order to crack down on all the HIV infections.

        1. Zero deaths/zero new cases sans masks, vaccines, passports, and restaurant closures is preeminently achievable. Bear Week would probably have to go. The CDC should definitely look into it.

          1. The parade would be right out.

        2. Presumably we should also ban Republicans to fix COVID.

          1. Hey, you’re the one suggesting the CDC should be more dilligent in its researching and policy prescriptions about behaviors known to be associated with disease. I don’t see how punishing Republicans because you hate yourself improves things for anyone.

      2. The gay men at the CDC would have to impose social distancing requirements, choosing public health protection over relationships, that their gay friends might not like. In other words, they would end up leaving their buddies behind.

    4. “Gun nuts treat guns as a god-given right, so I don’t see why normal, sane people can’t treat gun deaths as a quasi-natural phenomenon as well.”

      Shitstain assumes ‘normal’ = steaming piles of lefty shit like him.

    5. Libertarians treat self defense as a god given right.

      Fixed that for you.

      1. There are no gods, and in principle, you don’t get to impose your superstitions on me without securing the consent of a legislatively viable majority of your fellow citizens. Unless of course you have allies who wear black robes. The magical black robes of wisdom.

    6. …as opposed to progressives, who never blame anyone for climate change, pandemics and their guidelines, gun violence, wealth distribution, pollution, racism, sexism, etc.

      They’re just too busy loving everyone without an ounce of judgement.

      1. You think we’re blaming individuals because your brain can’t get out of agent-mode. It’s a constant thing, treating all talk of racism as a personal affront, for example, when the entire purpose for using the word “systemic” is to highlight the systemic, rather than individual, nature of the problem.

        I don’t really believe in blame, at least not for rigorous purposes. I believe in solving problems. If all that was required to fix climate change was to tell you how special and smart you are, then I’ll be your biggest fan.

        1. Do you actually know any progressives? Because finding one who hates all white cisgender heterosexual males and explicitly says so isn’t that hard.

          “Systemic” and impersonal my ass.

          1. Their yard sign says ‘Hate has no home here.’ Do you doubt their love for Trump, Russians, Republicans, TERFs, Uncle Toms, rednecks, cartel bosses, Ashli Babbitt, Kyle Rittenhouse, Alex Jones… ?

  15. “Gun violence.” That’s always a laugh. Watch out for those violent guns! Fucking idiots.

    How doesn’t matter. Why is the question.

    Why are people killing each other? Why are they killing themselves?

    Work on that and the how won’t matter anymore.

  16. I spent all of my stimulus money on guns & ammo. Both times.

  17. I hope the Reason staff is happy in their TDS elitist hubris. You get the totalitarianism you promote. Pravda gets the good potatoes.

    1. It’s all worth it if the “right people” like them.

    2. At least the mean tweets are gone!

      1. Along with who knows how many US citizens and Afghan allies in Kabul!
        Thanks, droolin’ Joe! Job fucked up!

  18. Remember the good old days, when the CDC (Center for Disease Control) was focused on DISEASE, and not every facet of our daily lives?

  19. “Biden cites the threat posed by violent crime to justify broad interventions that affect millions of Americans, whether or not they pose any sort of danger to public safety.”

    According to the most recent Gallup poll [2020], “Thirty-two percent of U.S. adults say they personally own a gun, while a larger percentage, 44%, report living in a gun household. Adults living in gun households include those with a gun in their home or anywhere on their property.”

    Number of adults in the US: 259, 393, 206
    Number of gun owners [32%]: 83, 005,826
    Gun homicides in given year [2019]: 14,500

    In a given year, those who commit homicide with a gun account for .000175% of gun owners; these crimes are primarily committed by a criminal class with about 70-80% being related to gang activity and their preferred money maker, the trade in illegal drugs.

    “Dr. Katherine Christoffel, head of the Handgun Epidemic Lowering Plan, a group that has received CDC support, stated this assumption plainly in a 1994 interview with American Medical News: “Guns are a virus that must be eradicated. They are causing an epidemic of death by gunshot, which should be treated like any epidemic–you get rid of the virus. Get rid of the guns, get rid of the bullets, and you get rid of the deaths.”

    Can you not see why the overwhelming vast majority of gun owners do not agree with this approach?

    1. anywhere on their property

      We keep our guns in the detached basement at the bottom of the lake.

  20. So is the CDC going to investigate the causal association between blacks and the risk of violence?

    1. Center for Dinger Control and Prevention

  21. If Walensky really wants to focus on improving mental health, maybe she should first pay attention to the adverse consequences of all those covid lockdown rules.

  22. Gee what could go wrong?

    Maybe a person who has always been Law Abiding decides they are not giving up thier guns. 90 Million gun owners? If one tenth of one percent of them shoot back, that is 90 000 (ninety thousand) police officers shot.

    What if they have friends?

  23. Maybe they can deem the coercion of lying a public health issue.

    All conflict is based on lies.

  24. Like they say, “Come and get them!”

  25. Unless a study doesn’t focus on guns itself, it can’t not be political.

    We have an entrenched class of people who don’t believe in freedom. If your freedom can be abused, the left doesn’t believe it’s freedom at all. That’s why they’ll censor you to stop “hate speech”, take away your guns to prevent “violence”, and tax you more to prevent “inequality” even though you had nothing to do with any of the above.

  26. I would be more inclined to believe that the CDC research in this area was not driven by a purely political gun control agenda if they were looking at the causes of violence more generally and not gun violence in particular.

    And if mechanical injuries (caused by physical force regardless of intention or human action) are a public health issue, wouldn’t car accidents in general and drunk driving in particular be much bigger concerns than gun violence?

    Is people falling off cliffs a public health concern?

    1. Is people falling off cliffs a public health concern?

      Were they vaccinated?

  27. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. By the same token, bureaucratic aggrandizement and the trashing of constitutional rights smells as bad.

  28. Jacob, you’re clearly a gun control freak. Anyone who regurgitates the control freak lie that “Congress prohibited the CDC from spending taxpayer money on gun violence research.” is clearly also a control freak.

    For the record the Dickey Amendment made no such prohibition. Here’s the text:

    none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) may be used to advocate or promote gun control.

    So it says the CDC can’t spend taxpayer money on advocating or promoting gun control. It says exactly nothing about gun violence research but only that the CDC can’t be Bloomberg’s government funded mouthpiece.

    1. Right. It’s just that the CDC decided that, if they couldn’t spend the money on promoting gun control, there wasn’t any point in doing the ‘research’. Actual research was never prohibited.

      But the people they’d been hiring for the ‘research’ were pretty much all frauds who specialized in rigged studies, like the eponymous Carl Bogus. If they’d kept paying them, their budget would have been cut by the amount spent, that was the penalty for violating the amendment, IIRC.

  29. And why, pray, are homicide and suicide so often conflated? If I commit homicide, I’m depriving someone else of their fundamental right to life. But if I commit suicide, I’m exercising that right for myself, since the right to life isn’t complete unless it includes the right to end my life when I find it burdensome.

    1. A high rate of suicide is a perfectly legitimate public interest. Many people who attempt suicide and fail do not go on to try again and regret trying in the first place. A gun makes regret somewhat less of an option. Because guns are especially efficient killing machines, which is why you think they’re important.

      There are plenty of parents of hormonal teens out there who wish our society made it more difficult to commit suicide.

      1. If you have a high rate of suicide, you should be inquiring into why so many people WANT to die. Rather than exploring options for forcing them to remain alive against their own will.

        I mean, is that your end goal, a world full of people desperate to die, but somehow prevented from accomplishing it?

        The suicide rate for teens wasn’t particularly high when I was one, and guess what: Basically nobody had gun safes, guns were stored in the closet, and prior to ’68, it was perfectly legal in most states for minors to buy guns.

        Why is it that so many people want to end their lives? Maybe you should be curious about that, instead of infringing the rights of all the people who don’t want to?

        1. I mean, is that your end goal, a world full of people desperate to die, but somehow prevented from accomplishing it?

          That is, indeed, the end goal of socialism and fascism: you live for the state-mandated collective and for the common good, not for your family and a community of your own choosing. And the state will use you any way it sees fit for that purpose.

  30. Am curious when the CDC will address the public health crisis that is the pandemic of massive ignorance created by poor education, fueled by slanted journalism, and constantly amplified by deliberate rhetoric from shitty politicians. That’s a far greater threat than the demonstrably dwindling deaths by firearm in the US, and also not really a health crisis.

    1. Am curious when the CDC will address the public health crisis that is the pandemic of massive ignorance created by poor education, fueled by slanted journalism, and constantly amplified by deliberate rhetoric from shitty politicians.

      You mean you want the government to fight misinformation in the media, indoctrinate students in school, send people to reeducation camps and mental health facilities if they oppose left wing ideology? Like in every socialist/fascist country?

  31. Mandate all federal employees have a Body Mass Index of 25 or less.

    1. You’ve solved the federal debt crisis right there.

    2. I didn’t realize all those morbidly obese people at Trump rallies were federal employees. Is that why Republicans don’t emphasize small government anymore?

      1. Nah. Turns out it’s because the ‘conservative’ think tanks and publications are on the take now, being paid to be ineffective opposition. How the National Review sold its soul

        “The American Enterprise Institute (AEI), the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), the Cato Institute, CPAC, the Weekly Standard and the National Review.” All on the take. And I’m betting that’s an incomplete list.

        1. NR never had a “soul” to begin with. In the 1950’s, Buckley literally advocated segregation and white supremacy, and beyond that there wasn’t a war they didn’t like. National Review always was a vehicle of self-aggrandizement for pompous right wing bloviators and authoritarians like William F. Buckley.

          Good riddance to NR and to Buckley. The conservative movement is better off without them.

  32. I’d imagine large numbers of guns in the hands of a civilian populace would be rather unsettling to those who think they know best how to run the lives of others. Doubly so when their favorite rhetoric involves encouraging rebellion against their overlords… It’s like a bunch of rich idiots read Marx in college, and then went into politics without pausing for introspection before hitting the benefits lounge.

  33. Guns are not the killer that people say they are. Bare hands have killed more people than guns. Knives have killed more people than guns. Hell, collapsing houses have killed more people than guns. Now bullets, those things are killers.

  34. Oh yeah; That ‘Public Health’ amendment to the Constitution….
    Um………………………………………………………………. Nope still not there.

  35. The “public health” concept regarding guns is like the “logic” used in Wickard v Filburn, i.e. well, this might have an incidental effect if we’re sloppy in our numbers and words, so we’ll say that the one causes the other.

  36. “according to survey data typically involves nothing more than brandishing a weapon to deter an attacker”

    Replica. No crime no homicide no suicide.

    1. Only works to the extent someone thinks it’s likely you own a real gun. That goes down as gun laws go up.

      1. Also only works on non-uniformed criminals and unelected murderers and rapists.

  37. Like so many other issues, this makes much more sense viewed through race realist lens. Notice how the same progressives pushing gun control also are upset about arrests and incarceration of black and brown gun offenders? They don’t actually want to enforce their gun laws against the people most likely to break them. This is about disarming and owning rural white conservatives and whites in general.

    1. We could start with high-capacity weapons that are regularly used to commit mass murder in this society in places such as schools. That would infringe on nobody’s rights and only the culture of a few psychopaths.

      1. Imagine, if you will, a law requiring all firearms to have barrels greater than 16 inches in length and magazine sizes with a minimum of thirty rounds. With this law we could instantly outlaw all the guns responsible for around 98% of firearm homicides. What do you say Tony? Why not ban handguns?

        1. I absolutely think any civilized society would do just that.

          1. Tony and I agree on something? Amazing. I should take a photo. But wait, just the comment before you seemed to be against that very thing. So which is it? Do we enshrine the right to own and operate long guns and ban handguns or ban the scary long guns that are used for 2% of murders because some deranged lunatics who used them to murder people get endless news coverage by people who care less about reducing murders than fighting a culture war with people who own long guns?

  38. Kristallnacht laws grabbed guns from everyone the least bit jewish in Germany. Nazi official Ernst Vom Rath was shot by a Jewish youth as Joseph Kennedy suggested shipping German Jews off to North and South America in 1938. Nazi ideology depicted jewishness itself as a form of hereditary mental illness and canonized Vom Rath as a new Horst Wessel. Observe that foreign dictatorships have not Bill of Rights and are quick to confiscate arms… then everything else–to stop everything except the violence of law.

    1. The Jews could have been safe if only they had a 2nd Amendment.

      One thing we know about the Nazis, they were sticklers for not interfering with anyone’s basic rights.

      1. Forget about whether the Nazis cared about rights, at least they could have taken more Nazis with them.

  39. “…the firearm-owning community”

    Does Walensky mean law abiding citizens, NRA members, or black and Hispanic gang bangers and drug dealers?

    “…We haven’t spent the time, energy, and, frankly, the resources to understand this problem…”
    A demographic study might be the place to start. Or is that too racist?

    1. Guns in the hands pf the Capitol Police have killed more peaceful protestors than all my guns combined.*

      * discounting the Yugo AK that may have been used in the Balkan wars.

  40. Perhaps they should stay in their lane and make a proposal of how to reduce suicide by improving mental health. Maybe even do real science and run randomized trials of different strategies. One of the trials could even be discouraging gun ownership, gun buybacks, or other ways to reduce access to guns for those with depression or schizophrenia … but without violating the constitution. But of course they already have THE SCIENCE so instead they’ll waste billions of dollars and end up learning nothing.

  41. I don’t get what the big deal is. If landlords can be a public health issue, why not guns?

  42. Given that the CDC believes eviction to be a ‘public health’ issue this is hardly surprising.
    We live in an age where liberals feel free to turn language on its head; to package things like government help for babysitting into ‘human infrastructure.’

    1. Roads and bridges cost the same kind of dollars as any other public good. Why don’t you explain what’s so sacred about a narrowly defined version of the word “infrastructure” that permits me to be taxed to pay for those but not other things.

      1. Because words have meanings.

    2. Justifying authoritarian policies as “public health” has a long tradition among socialist/fascist regimes. Nazis declared Jews to be a public health issue, Soviets declared opposition to Marxism to be a mental health condition, etc.

  43. If this is a health issue, we should start with one underlying observation.

    “The per-capita offending rate for African-Americans was roughly eight times higher than that of whites, and their victim rate was similar.”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_and_crime_in_the_United_States

    That would seem to meet the strict scrutiny test for banning the possession of firearms by black men. It’s certainly a lot more plausible than an eviction moratorium to prevent COVID. So, let’s start there. The CDC routinely makes healthcare recommendations that account for race.

    If not, why not?

  44. Wouldn’t that be nice if people in charge read books? All these questions have been answered by John Lott years ago in his books “More guns less crime” and “Gun control myths”.

  45. One glaring problem with this study is that Kellermann’s team limited its analysis to cases in which guns were used to “injure or kill” someone. As scholars such as the Florida State University criminologist Gary Kleck have been pointing out for decades, counting only shootings vastly underestimates the use of guns for self-defense, which according to survey data typically involves nothing more than brandishing a weapon to deter an attacker.

    Okay. But if you want to expand the uses of guns for self-defense to include the instances of people brandishing a gun or firing it without hitting anyone, then wouldn’t you also have to include the same thing in instances of crime or threats of self-harm? I mean, if the goal is to compare the dangers of guns to the benefits, then you need to be sure you aren’t biasing one of those in comparison to the other.

    That was a pretty obvious question to ask about that argument from my perspective. Why didn’t Sullum ask it?

  46. Laws are optional now as Hillary and Obama showed us with the State Dept server scandal, oh and Hinter lying on his gun purchase form..

  47. The CDC’s Framing of Homicide and Suicide As ‘Public Health’ Issues Provides Cover for Biden’s Gun Control Agenda

    We have seen the endpoint of this already in the USSR, Nazi Germany, and the speeches of Democrat politicians: anybody who opposes their policies will be declared as uneducated, indoctrinated, and/or mentally ill. The left’s solution is to send people to reeducation camps, and if that doesn’t work, to “mental health” facilities. If you can’t be made to conform, you’ll be euthanized.

Please to post comments