Gun Control

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This afternoon on CNN, the commentator said that the drive toward gun control was gathering steam, and this just may be what it takes to over-ride the National Rifle Association’s virtual hammerlock on it. This lunatic in Virginia bought a 9 mm handgun last month without so much as a by-your-leave. Just cruised in and picked it out. They found the receipt in his bag.

That should be a wake-up call if Columbine wasn’t. It should be painfully obvious that there are now a wide world of wackos out there perfectly capable of killing as many innocents as possible before offing themselves. Each and every one of them can just cruise in and buy handguns whenever they want.

My take and it is only my personal opinion for what you think it’s worth- the second amendment protects the right to bear arms, but not the right to get them cheaply or easily. It ought to be hard as Hell to get a gun. Months of waiting and background checking and a damned good excuse to have one. And they ought to be VERY costly. Enough so that anyone has to save for months to get one. There is NEVER a reason for an ordinary citizen to own a 9 mm handgun, a device specifically crafted for killing other humans and nothing else. That goes for the entire array of “Saturday Night Specials” too. There is NEVER a reason for any citizen to own ANY kind of assault rifle or anything that fires on full automatic, unless it is permanently disabled with cement in the barrel and no firing mechanism. And no one should EVER have a firearm unless it’s registered with the Federales, and they know exactly who has each and every one of them and where they are at any given moment.

I don’t care if the statistics brought forward by the NRA say that strictly regulating handguns has no effect on crime. As far as I’m concerned, those statistics are biased. They don’t pass the common sense test. Just like A.B.A.T.E,with straight faces, trot out their “earth is flat” statistics that death and disability decrease when riders don’t have to wear helmets. That bullshit doesn’t pass the common sense test either. Common sense dictates that when guns are harder to get, it will be harder to get them, and less can be used in violent crimes. And I also don’t buy the old chestnut that when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns. None of the lunatics in any of the recent mass killings were “outlaws”. They were average people with a couple of screws loose.

Gun nuts say the price we pay for having to protect ourselves is allowing the few wackos to also have the same access to guns. I see it the other way, there are an increasing supply of wackos, to the point where it’s better to have a few citizens get assaulted than allow any wacko that wants one to get a gun easily and cheaply. If the NRA has it’s way, we are headed to a The reality is that is we go to a wild West scenario where every time a car backfires every citizen on the sidewalk draws a weapon and shoots first, asking questions later. The increasing number of handguns in the pockets of John Q. Public has an infinitely bigger chance of shooting himself, his spouse or an innocent than actually protecting himself from an assault.

The NRA is very much like A.B.A.T.E as they continue to kick a dead horse but with decreasing evidence to support their position. I certainly hope this latest outrage stimulated the potential to simply raise the threshold for vetoing the NRA much like is going to happen to A.B.A.T.E as accumulating evidence occurs.

We have been down this road on Med-Events before. it is an emotionally volatile issue and continuing to argue about it isn’t going to change anyone’s mind on either side. So this is all I have to say about it. Take it for what you think it’s worth.

The argument that we can’t do anything about handguns in America because there are already too many of them is simply ridiculous. By that logic, why should we try to track down all the bags of tainted pet food? There are too many of them and we don’t know where all of them are. Let’s just suck it up and keep accurate statistics for the deaths.

Aggressive action is better than none. Collecting some of the guns we can find and tossing into the sea is better than just giving up. Tightening up the sale of guns now will pay dividends in time, if not right away. Something is better than nothing. The time has come to at least make an attempt to stop this madness.

I don’t know if this will be the wake up call that will finally squelch the hammerlock of the National Rifle Association but I can only hope. The time has come to clamp down and clamp down VERY hard on guns in this country. Sorry about the mistakes of the past. We can’t fix that, but we can get a start on making it better for the future.

The hard line of the gun lobby is out of date and lethal. Innocents are dying regularly now, and they are dying of gunshot wounds from handguns. The fact that wackos are killing innocents wholesale by other methods than handguns is IMMATERIAL. There is a limit of what we can do to control wackos killing innocents be other lethal methods. We CAN at least make an effort to stop the handgun scourge.

Another classic myth perpetrated by the NRA is“guns don’t kill people, people do”. A variation of the “there are already too many guns out there, so we can’t do anything about them” myth. It’s bullshit. You can’t necessarily stop people from doing dastardly things, but you can sure as Hell make it more difficult for them. Make it extremely difficult to purchase guns, and expensive. Absolutely no one should ever have a semi-automatic handgun and especially ones with a 33 round banana clip. Why does the NRA think anyone would want to fire 33 rounds in rapid succession with a quick change clip? Plinking at tin cans? The only weapons available for “self protection” should be five round revolvers, ponderous and time consuming to load. Time to subdue a shooter in the process.

Some lunatic actually came on CNN last night and vigorously advocated simply arming all citizens as a response to these infrequent disasters. So any suspicious activity in the mind of armed citizens would initiate a firefight that would expand to anyone in earshot. How would you like to live in a society where after dropping your clipboard on a wood floor you found twenty guns trained on you.

David Crippen, MD

Letter to a libertarian friend

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Private health insurance companies are in the biz to make a profit, and they do that the way all businesses do, by giving the least possible service at the highest price the traffic will bear. They do that by cherry picking subscribers, anyone with the slightest chance of getting sick is excluded or their rates are prohibitive. Anyone that gets sick gets a hassle when it comes time to continue follow-up care. Providers get stiffed every way possible, not paid, paid late less and excluding anything possible. I know this because I deal with them daily.

I laughed when John McCain came out against “government health care” because he (and you for that matter) spent his entire career getting “Government Health Care” and no one ever heard him complain at the time. In fact he got excellent heath care, and so did you. Another howl was some oldster at a town hall meeting yelling at Obama not to allow that awful “socialized medicine”, but hastily adding “and don’t mess with my Medicare (the pure essence of socialized medicine). I deal with people insured by Medicare every day and I am still waiting to hear anyone complain about it.

The private health care providers are immune from any regulation or competition and they do a STUNNINGLY bad job of caring for the population, about 40% of which is un- or under-insured. Very libertarian. They fix their prices to maximize their profits, and no one can do anything about it because they are protected by those in congress that are in bed with them. Conservative Republicans afraid of an evil government bureaucracy with the “efficiency of the post office and the charm and compassion of the IRS”. BTW, the mail gets delivered on time mostly and the IRS is not an insurance company so it doesn’t matter how they treat anyone.

We have already had a vision of how private corporations work when left unregulated. They are not any kinder or gentler than Federal bureaucracy. They do anything they can to line their pockets at the expense of innocents and they very nearly broke the American bank. If they had been left alone any longer than they were, they would have done just that and then sat down and cried at the lack of any more money to steal from poor slobs trying to keep their heads above water. Very libertarian. On their worst day, government bureaucracy couldn’t be any worse than AIG, Enron, Bank of America, Fidelity and an almost endless list. Made fortunes on greed and corruption that makes Nixon look like an amateur and Charlie Manson a punk. Then continued to try to line their pockets even after they were outed. Now it’s time for the pendulum to swing back and see if it’s possible for government to do good things. There is no inherent reason why government programs should be any worse than incredibly badly run private programs. How could it possibly be worse than the last 4 years?

And the financial reality is that the taxpayer is probably the only cash base able to afford paying for something as expensive as health care. Private insurance companies suck up everything they can for themselves, administrative costs trying to find new ways to avoid or divert payment make up as much as 30% of cost. I see the un- and under-insured every day, social workers trying to find ways for them to avoid bankruptcy and financial penury for the rest of their lives and their kid’s lives for menial unexpected illnesses, hospitals billing them for full freight, while they bill insurance companies pennies on the dollar for the same issue. Working families of four or five desperately trying to keep their heads above water trying to deal with unexpected illnesses. It breaks my heart.

It’s outrageous and contemptible that the USA is the ONLY country in the world that allows working people to sink like rocks through no fault of their own with an unexpected illness. They all laugh at us in Canada, France and the UK and God Forsaken New Zealand, a country with more sheep than people, a country that gives its citizens affordable health care and world class ICU care as well.

So all this whining from Conservative Republicans trying to kill affordable health care for all Americans, a pure and simply political ploy to hurt the President impresses me not. They don’t give a shit about all the suffering and misery the private insurance system causes. A government allocation system that manages to provide affordable coverage for ALL it’s citizens is exactly how much worse than skimping on care and denying benefits to assure a profit?

Conservative Republicans feel the need to “Study” any plan, especially a plan put together by Obama, indefinitely, assuring its death by a thousand cuts. In so doing they accomplish a double disaster. They kill health care reform and condemn us to more of the same to save us from the evils of “socialized Medicine”. And of course they have some up with NOTHING other than various plans to tweak a wholly unworkable system appeasing the private insurers that made it unworkable. Secondly and most importantly, they insure that we stand still and do nothing indefinitely, an option that does NOT exist.

Standing still is NOT an option. Every minute we stand still in this economy is a minute that EVERYONE loses the potential for health care indemnification. Purchasing private insurance of any kind is already unaffordable for the average worker. 5 years ago, 60% of working people had coverage through their employment. Today 31% have the same coverage and the cost is going up exponentially. Employers are dropping it like hot rocks and workers are unable to afford the continuing increase.

Health care is mandated but payment for it isn’t. Failing to render health care is ille but paying for it is undefined. Who do you think pays for all these people with no health insurance, increasing daily? Anyone that arrives at a hospital MUST by law be admitted and treated as long as they need care. No one can afford to pay the full freight. By standing still, we continue to rush headlong to financial oblivion. Every one of these workers with (increasingly) no insurance that gets sick still lands in the same system that won’t pay for them up front so it pays for them under the table by a tax base that is going broke rapidly. And they are increasing in numbers daily.

Gleeful conservative Republicans and their religious wacko counterpoints are having a field day trying as hard as they can to get to Obama by denying poor, helpless souls some kind of meaningful protection. Scaring oldsters by crowing loudly in TV bites that Obama plans to kill oldsters to save money and finance abortions with the money saved. It’s BEYOND CONTEMPTIBLE. And the scary predictions of five year waiting periods for emergency and life saving care in places like the European Union are simply not true. I talk to EU doctors every day and I have been all over the EU and seen their hospitals and talked to their doctors and not once have I ever seen any evidence of urgent or emergent patients languishing.

So I am less than impressed with libertarian ideals that help support our current system of culling out almost half our population from affordable health care to insure profit, the most expensive care in the world and not even in the top ten most efficient and effective when compared to other countries.