Dear MKP,Dear Editor,
My response to this post that's going around...
Alright... Except that the premise of this whole thing is fallacious as many
that come under a physician's care are already injured and perhaps in
life-threatening situations. Secondly, let's not remember that physician's
negative impact must also be measured against the amount of positive impact
they have had. And for many other reasons. But I'm commenting mostly to
correct the maths here because it ticks me off. I'm not commenting on the
political nature of gun control...
A) Except for the fact that the information is wrong and there were 850,085
physicians in 2010 Comparing Physicians to guns is not a comparable measure.
Physicians perform a task, they are not an object. If you wanted to have an
accurate comparison you should compare the number of patient's records from
all physicians as a baseline measure. That number is 1.2 billion.
B) I have found no reliable number that would about to that 120,000
mentioned. The CDC, which keeps all sorts of medical statistics in the U.S.
cites 93,951 deaths in 2010.
The only deaths that can be directly attributed to doctors [editor: stray sentence?]
C) Using the "accidental" gun death ratio is ridiculous and the entire
figure should be used. Doctors are meant to save lives, hence why you count
the accidental deaths. Guns are meant to kill people. In that case, you
should also count the fact that two-thirds of all gun-related deaths in the
United States are suicides. In 2010, there were 19,392 firearm-related
suicide deaths, and 11,078 firearm-related homicide deaths in the United
D) I have found no indication that there are 80 million gun owners in the
U.S.. I thus wonder where that figure comes from, especially because gun
owners (I think) are measured by household, and there is no reliable source.
The NRA however estimates that there are about 70-80 million, so I'll take
that figure as good.
30470 deaths per year (2010) and the current number of gun owners (let's
assume it's 80 million) gives us 0.0003809 as number of deaths per gun owner
per year.or 0.038%
1.2 billion "operations" by licenced physicians (850,085) and the supposed
120,000 deaths per year make out to 0.00001, or 0.001%. In reality the CDC
actually gives the correct figure as 93,591, which would readjust the figure
to 0.0000078, or 0.00078%.
It turns out that Guns, in any case, are quite much deadlier than
Thanks for your letter. I agree that statistics can be, and usually are, manipulated toward whatever bias their user is bent on advocating. This goes for people on both sides of the fence, and for any issue.
This particular use of statistics has apparently gored your ox (are you a doctor?). From my perspective, the fact you have spent so much time with the figures, means you are thinking.
We don't claim to have all the answers, but we do try to get people to think.
There are many different ways to approach the statistics of death, when comparing guns and doctors.
As you pointed out, why not include all causes of gun related death, instead of only accidental? While we're at it, why not include all types of guns, including heavy military weapons? For instance, why not include the large-caliber guns aboard warships? They are, after all, guns. Most warships have their own ship's doctor. If any one of a warship's guns can't kill more people than its ship's doctor, then the gunner should be replaced.
We also might be remiss in taking a too narrow view on doctors. As long as guns have existed, people have made zipguns out of things just laying around the house; and now anyone with a 3D printer can make his own gun with plans obtained freely from the Internet. So why should we consider only licensed physicians? Shouldn't chiropractors, psychiatrists, homeopaths, and even witchdoctors have their opportunity to influence the result?
Now that America is about to embark on the road to socialized medicine, we must definitely include the bureaucrats who will administer Obamacare. One would think the sheer number of these bureaucrats would skew the results in favor of physicians, but I'm not so sure. Lots of people are dying to find out.
Your signature indicates you are from Italy, which has had socialized medicine since 1978. From what I read, I understand the system is broke, but that's another discussion altogether. Socialization is synonymous with heavy regulation. Guns are also heavily regulated in Italy. Therefore I must assume that if records are even kept with regard to deaths by guns and/or doctors, they cannot be relied upon to be accurate. After all, your press is heavily controlled too.
The best thing you said, if I may paraphrase, is that doctors are people, whereas guns are objects. I agree it's not a fair comparison. It would be better to compare a gun with a physician's scalpel, or with the drugs he prescribes to his patients.
If we can agree it is not the tool which is at fault, but hand which guides it, then let's take a look at the gun control laws being proposed by the federal government, and by many State legislatures.
These laws would propose to curtail, or severely limit private ownership of all kinds of guns. Only agents of government would be allowed their ownership and use. Their line of reasoning is that guns are dangerous, and only government can be trusted with guns. Since we've already established that guns are tools and it is people, not guns which are dangerous, let's examine the second plank, and look at government's track record.
According to recently revised figures compiled by R. J. Rummel (his qualifications, and the full article is at (http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/NOTE5.HTM), during the 20th century, governments murdered their own people to the tune of 262,000,000. This does not include any of the people who died in foreign or internal wars. Governments actually murdered more than six times as many of their own people, than all the people who died in war during the same period. This also includes only overt murder, and not "soft-kill" methods such as poisoning water supplies, and approving known poisons for mass consumption.
How is it that governments were able to murder so many of their own people, without the people rising up and fighting back? Because first the government took away their guns.
In most cases, goverment also took away, or severely limited their peoples' access to doctors. This makes it difficult to bring our original discussion back into view, but does suggest that government views both guns and doctors as dangerous. Dangerous to government, at least.
All things considered, I still feel safer owning a gun, than visiting a doctor.