from Our March Printed Edition:
by Art O’Leary
President, Leominster Sportsmen’s Association
Amidst much hoopla in the press, our attorney general and the Massachusetts Medical Society have just put forth new “informational brochures” on gun safety. Being a long-time firearms safety instructor, and always interested in acquiring new “instructional aids” to get the message across, I went to their website to check them out. (1,2)
Upon inspection, it appears that there’s a basic problem with these much-heralded publications – they omit any mention of the three “Always” rules of gun safety:
– Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
– Always keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
– Always keep the gun unloaded until ready to use.
The cardinal rule of gun safety: “Treat every firearm with the respect due a loaded gun,” is also missing. With these rules being so basic to gun safety, their omission is rather glaring.
You’d also think that since the medical professionals are involved, there’d be a mention of personal protective equipment? – i.e., safety glasses and earmuffs/plugs … nope. Or, how about a reminder to wash your hands after shooting, to remove any traces of lead dust before eating? Nope.
Now, many hunters and marksmen, in addition to taking their NRA and hunter safety trainings, have taken first aid classes so that they are familiar with the basics – check, call, care – of emergency medical treatment. It would be a good idea for our doctors to likewise take some real firearms safety classes and get themselves some range time, so that they become familiar with the subject, hands-on, instead of just relying on an online dog-and-pony show authored by politicians. This way they will be able to provide credible advice to their patients.
However, one part of their brochure, which should be commended, is where they recommend disposing of unwanted firearms through licensed dealers or collectors. That way people can receive their full value, rather than only $50 or $75 from a gun buy-back program: “Guns can be sold to licensed dealers or individuals. This is often the best option for a legally owned firearm, as it allows the owner to be fully compensated for the value of the weapon.”
(Note to doctors – lawful citizens own sporting firearms, not weapons; – as in: my mind is a weapon in the war of ideas, my AR is a sporting firearm.)
These gun buy-back programs exist mainly to make the politicians and police chiefs look like they’re doing something to fight crime, whereas in reality they are ripping off widows and children. Oftentimes, photos show classic collector’s items: Colt Pythons, Winchester Model 70’s, Savage 99’s – from grandpa’s closet, and historic guns that he brought back home from fighting for freedom in the far corners of the globe, amongst the turned-in guns. Some of these firearms are worth thousands of dollars – not just a coupon for a pair of sneakers.
* * *
Interestingly, in last week’s Boston Magazine, there was an article on how there is never an arrest in 96% of non-fatal shootings in Boston. (3) With these crimes occurring just a short walk from Ms. Healey’s desk, it appears that protecting the lives and civil rights of persons living in lower socio-economic neighborhoods are not a law enforcement priority.
Also, last summer there was an interesting article in the British Medical Journal, which listed medical error as the third largest cause of death here: “If medical error was a disease, it would rank as the third leading cause of death in the US.” They have a little chart that shows medical error (251K) behind heart disease (611K) and cancer (585K), but far ahead of suicide (41K), firearms and motor vehicles (34K each) as causes of death in 2013. (4)
So, these new publications from our AG and the MMA rate grades of “D-” overall.
It appears that, based on facts and figures, lives and public safety in the commonwealth would best be served if our attorney general and the Massachusetts Medical Society would focus their attentions on their own particular bailiwicks, and leave our HIPPAA and civil rights unmolested.
Focus on protecting our neighborhoods from drug gangs and corrupt politicians, and stop harassing the citizenry with unconstitutional gun bans!
P.S.: For a splendid little video on gun safety, check out the National Shooting Sports Federation’s “Firearms Safety Depends on You”: http://nssf.org/safety/video/FSDOY.cfm.
Here are some links so that you can check them out for yourself:
1. Gun Safety and Your Health: http://www.massmed.org/uploadedFiles/massmedorg/Patient_Care/Health_Topics/Firearm%20Guidance%20for%20Patients%20final.pdf
2. Talking to Patients about Gun Safety:
3. Boston is a Shooters’ Paradise: (not our kind of shooter…)
4. M. Makary & M. Daniel, “Medical error—the third leading cause of death in the US,” British Medical Journal, May 3rd, 2016 http://www.bmj.com/content/353/bmj.i2139
Art O’Leary has been teaching gun safety to youths and adults for 32 years as a Massachusetts Hunter Education and NRA instructor. He is a scoutmaster, engineer, and president of the Leominster Sportsmen’s Association. ¨