The Anti-Gun Association on Aging

[Ed: Aging Today and AgeBlog, the American Society on Aging’s media, published an article, “Grandparents,Gun Violence and Gun Policy”, this fall.  Teri Kennedy, a PhD grandmother with the School of Social Work at Arizona State University, advocated the straight gun restriction party line, from the claim that the Dickey amendment “barred”research to universal background checks, banning “assault weapons” and “high-capacity magazines”, and “gun safety technology”. OK, we have no disagreement with “promot[ing] safe storage of guns” (interpreted correctly) or “improve[d] access to and delivery of mental health services”. But, seriously . . .

DRGO correspondent Warren Lind, LCSW, a member of the ASA took enough interest to send the editor an extremely well- documented rebuttal. It follows here, with excerpts from the editor’s reply. His biggest may have been including my name as a co-author.]

To the Editor:

Dr. Kennedy’s article does not have anything to do with the goals and vision of ASA and as such should have never been accepted as an article. (See  http://www.asaging.org/2015-2020-strategic-plan-summary.)                    

“Gun violence” is not a leading cause of death in America. The five leading causes are:

  1. Heart Disease:  614,348
  2. Cancer:  591,699
  3. Medical errors (malpractice):  A 2018 Johns Hopkins study claims more than 250,000 people in the U.S. die every year from medical errors. Other reports claim the numbers to be as high as 440,000.
  4.  Chronic lower respiratory disease:  147,101
  5.  Accidents: 136,053

Under the rubric of ‘Gun Culture and Gun Policy’ Dr. Kennedy cites various polls; these are meaningless. First, we don’t know what questions that were asked or how the respondents were selected. (Please Google the terms ‘The Problems with Polls’)  Second, should we poll the public on the right to religion, the right to free speech, or other rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights?  The Left has been attacking free speech on college campuses for decades – please go to www.thefire.org

Dr. Kennedy proposes many “reforms” that have already been debunked or which are canards: 

  • “Close gun sale loopholes”:  There are no loopholes; dealers who sell at gun shows must have a Federal Firearm License, and the BATFE closely monitors this.  Criminals get their guns by breaking into homes, gun stores, and even police cars, not to mention the black market.
  • Fact: Only 0.7% of convicts bought their firearms at gun shows. 39.2% obtained them from illegal street dealers.
  • Fact: Fewer than 1% of “crime guns” were obtained at gun shows. This is a reduction from a 1997 study that found 2% of guns used in criminal offenses were purchased at gun shows.
  • Fact: The FBI concluded in one study that no firearms acquired at gun shows were used to kill police. “In contrast to media myth, none of the firearms in the study were obtained from gun shows.”
  • Fact: Only 5% of metropolitan police departments believe gun shows are a problem. 
  • Fact: Only 3.5% of youthful offenders reported that they obtained their last handgun at a gun show.(See http://www.gunfacts.info/pdfs/gun-rfacts/7.1/Gun-Facts-7.1-screen.pdf.)  
  • “Ban the sale of high-capacity ammunition magazines and military-style assault weapons”. Magazines that come with firearms normally hold as many as 20 rounds, and no true “assault weapons” (that permit automatic fire) are marketed to civilians. (See http://www.gunfacts.info/pdfs/gun-facts/7.1/Gun-Facts-7.1-screen.pdf.)  FBI statistics show that in 2016 there were 274 murders committed with long guns.  That same year 1,604 murders were committed using “knives or cutting instruments,”472 with “blunt objects (clubs, hammers, etc.),” and 659 with hands, fists, or feet.
  • “Promote the safe storage of guns”:  The experts at the National Rifle Association – since 1871,has been promoting gun safety, as do scores of other Second Amendment advocacy groups and gun dealers. Many firearm manufactures include free cable locks with each gun.
  • “Close Internet loopholes”:  All guns sold by dealers to individuals must go through a licensed FFL Dealer and FBI background check.

Accidental gun deaths have been decreasing yearly since statistics were first being kept.  Fact:Firearm misuse causes only a small number of accidental deaths in the U.S. (495 in 2016). For example, compared to being accidentally killed by a firearm, you are: 

  • Five times more likely to burn to death
  • Five times more likely to drown
  • 17 times more likely to be poisoned
  • 17 times more likely to fall to your death, and
  • 68 times more likely to die in an automobile accident.

(See http://www.gunfacts.info/pdfs/gun-facts/7.1/Gun-Facts-7.1-screen.pdf.)   

If Dr. Kennedy was truly concerned about elders, which is the focus of ASA, then she would be much more focused on:

1) Seeking ways to reduce the deaths caused by medical malpractice, not to mention the millions of injuries, and

2) Seeking to protect elders from criminal attacks.  From 2003 to 2013 rates of nonfatal violent crime against the elderly increased 27 percent, from 3.4 to 4.4 victimizations per 1,000 persons age 65 or older (Source: CrimeInAmerica.net) 

Sincerely,

Warren Lind, MA, MSW, LCSW

[And, following, the editor’s reply:]

Hello, Warren,

We had received, in mid-Oct., your blog submission. We are unable to publish this for the following reasons:

– this has been written with the inclusion of an author who is not an ASA member; all blog submissions must be authored solely by ASA members.     

– this piece has unsubstantiated narrative, which needs more accurate research/resources/references to back up the narrative.     

– this piece does not include any resource information that our professional membership can use in their work to serve and support older adults and their families; this is a must for inclusion in AgeBlog (see attached guidelines).

If you would like to either rework this as a “resource piece” or submit a short Letter to the Editor (no more than 350 words), authored by you, we will consider either submission.

Thank you, Warren, for your support of ASA.

 Regards,

 Alison Hood

[We contemplated revising our response to meet Ms. Hood’s requirements. It was easy to delete my name, as I had actually contributed very little. Yet there is nothing “unsubstantiated” in Mr. Lind’s detailed response, and it has gobs of “resource information” referenced that would give ASA’s membership authoritative data about the real issues in “gun violence” and prevention. It became obvious we would be wasting our time once we realized that the original article she was happy to publish in Aging Today/AgeBlog did not meet Hood’s standards itself.

Mr. Lind continues to fight the good fight by writing for rational publications in the Midwest and responding to wrong-headed articles in other media. We thank him for sharing his good work.]

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Robert B Young, MD

— DRGO Editor Robert B. Young, MD is a psychiatrist practicing in Pittsford, NY, an associate clinical professor at the University of Rochester School of Medicine, and a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association.

All DRGO articles by Robert B. Young, MD