Two Profiles in Hoplophobia

(Deborah Prothrow-Stith MD. From: )

(Deborah Prothrow-Stith MD. From: )

The public health culture war against gun owners started a quarter century ago and shows no signs of letting up. The steady surge in support of the civil right of gun ownership seems to have spurred medical hoplophobes in universities and in government to renew their efforts to prohibit gun ownership.

The big academic gun-grabbers enjoy support from a fawning media and from sympathetic activists in government.  Mainstream media accounts always portray them as heroes fighting “gun violence.”  In this blog entry we expose two of these prominent public health figures for what they are—gun prohibitionists masquerading as legitimate scientists.

If you scratch the surface of the public health campaign against gun ownership, you’ll see it’s rooted in emotions, not in science.  Dr. Deborah Prothrow-Stith was a dean at Harvard when she wrote this passage on page 198 of her book Deadly Consequences:

“I hate guns and I can’t imagine why anyone would want to own one. If I had my way, guns for sport would be registered and all other guns would be banned.”

A public declaration of prejudice like this should have been a career killer, but earlier this year Dr. Prothrow-Stith was appointed dean of the Charles Drew University College of Medicine in Los Angeles.  It is simply astonishing that a career academic would be appointed as a medical school dean after literally declaring her hatred for one of our enumerated civil rights.

Prothrow-Stith’s book is full of references to “young men of color” joining gangs and getting involved in illegal drug trafficking, and their choice of guns as weapons.  As far as she is concerned, the tens of millions of American gun owners who aren’t violent criminals don’t exist.  She obviously has zero concern or even recognition of gun ownership as a civil right, a glaring irony in an African-American.

Dean Prothrow-Stith goes on to attack the National Rifle Association, writing “we need to selectively choose our fights with the NRA.” She apparently assumes that any reasonable person considers the NRA an enemy.  But the five million Americans who are NRA members find that attitude extremely insulting.  And gun owners in general, who far outnumber NRA members, tend to agree.

Prothrow-Stith dishes out effusive praise in her book for a rogue’s gallery of academic gun prohibitionists, people who have declared their contempt for gun owners and their complete disregard of the Constitution’s guarantee of the civil right of gun ownership.

One of her heroes (see the Acknowledgments section) is then-director of the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) National Center for Injury Prevention and Control Mark Rosenberg.  Rosenberg propelled the CDC into a planned campaign against gun owners that eventually caused Congress to pull their funding.

Prothrow-Stith gushes over another colleague, writing “I am very intrigued by and I heartily support the gun-control [sic] efforts of two veteran gun opponents, Garen Wintemute, M.D., MPH…and Stephen Teret, J.D., MPH, who is the director of the Injury Prevention Center at Johns Hopkins University [in what is now the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health].”

(Garen Wintemute, MD From:

(Garen Wintemute, MD. From:

Wintemute has been a prolific and well-publicized researcher of firearms for well over 20 years, operating out of the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California-Davis.  We recently covered his involvement in procuring funding for “gun violence” research through Sen. Lois Wolk’s SB 1006, which gun prohibitionists see as a remedy for a presumed lack of tax money funding for their gun control advocacy research projects.

What the California taxpayers may not know is Wintemute’s irrational and very unscientific abhorrence of the civil right of gun ownership. As we’ve noted before, it’s hard not to conclude that Wintemute has some deep-seated personal animus against guns. Stephen Teret, one of the “gun opponents” praised by Dean Prothrow-Stith above, is the former trial lawyer who tutored Wintemute in how to sue gun manufacturers.

Teret was responsible for encouraging a flurry of baseless lawsuits against gun manufacturers, not because their products were defective and had caused injury, but because criminals used them to commit crimes.  Big city mayors, academic gun prohibitionists like Teret, and gun prohibition lobbying groups all colluded to bring these nuisance lawsuits in a strategy that they confessed was intended to drain gun companies’ finances from the costs of defending them.

The lawsuits were tossed out by courts all across the country as the frauds they were, but not before inflicting the intended financial damage on the gun companies.  Congress stopped the gun-grabbers’ abuses with the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.

It was this kind of strategic abuse of government power against gun owners that Garen Wintemute, MD, MPH learned during his mentorship by the anti-gun rights lawyer Stephen Teret at Johns Hopkins.  Wintemute picked up early in his career that there’s nothing like the threat of government force to back up his anti-gun rights prescriptions.

Wintemute’s specialty in anti-gun rights advocacy research is smearing gun owners as a group by association with some possibly violence-related factor—excessive drinking, suicide, or simply being young—and ending the article with a call for more regulation of gun owners. By which he means laws, backed up by threat of government force.

It doesn’t help Wintemute’s claims to be just another humble scientist looking for answers when he occasionally slips and lets his true contempt for gun owners show.  Here Wintemute was quoted in the April 2001 UC Davis medical school’s newsletter, the Matrix:

“…there was a huge, amply funded political organization that basically said, ‘Guns are a good thing and we don’t care how many people die…’”— Matrix (UC Davis School of Medicine and Medical Center), vol.8, no. 3, April 2001, page 1.

The article makes it clear that Wintemute was talking about the National Rifle Association, a loathing for whose members he evidently shares with Dean Prothrow-Stith.

In the same article Capitol insider Patsy Kurokawa, chief consultant to the California Assembly Speaker effused:

“As far as California is concerned, it’s safe to say that every bill related to gun control has originated with Garen.”—Matrix (UC Davis School of Medicine and Medical Center), vol.8, no. 3, April 2001, page 3.

None of the barrage of major media articles will give any hint of the hatred that anti-gun rights ivory tower types like Dr. Garen Wintemute and Dean Deborah Prothrow-Stith harbor for gun owners.  After all, they are all on the same gun-grabbing team, on first-name terms with each other, united in their contempt for gun owners.

But at DRGO we will relentlessly expose them for what their own words tell us they are—anti-gun rights extremists using their lofty university positions to attack our very civil rights.


Dr. Tim Wheeler

—Timothy Wheeler, MD is director of Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership, a project of the Second Amendment Foundation. 

All DRGO articles by Timothy Wheeler, MD.