Shooting down an NRA tweet

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What liberal bias — a sizable amount of the research done on gun violence indicates that improving firearm regulations might actually curb gun violence!

Nick Zugris | Cavalier Daily

In the wake of America’s latest batch of shootings, the American College of Physicians published a position paper summarizing the organization’s positions on the public policies it supports regarding the prevention of gun violence and accidental firearm injuries. Unfortunately, if you happen to have a platform and say the word “gun” these days, the results will be akin to saying “Beetlejuice” — strange old people will appear out of nowhere and harass you. On Nov. 7, the National Rifle Association issued an official rebuttal, hailed by a tweet reading “Someone should tell self-important anti-gun doctors to stay in their lane. Half of the articles in Annals of Internal Medicine are pushing for gun control. Most upsetting, however, the medical community seems to have consulted NO ONE but themselves.” This was then followed by a link to their response, the thumbnail featuring a stock photo of a man in a lab coat resembling a fiendish hybrid of Larry David and John Lennon reading a book. The NRA has already taken a lot of fire for this, and the article itself isn’t important, as most of it is just nitpicking one citation in a paper that has 63 others. That said, I find the tweet itself extremely amusing due to how the NRA pretends science works, as well as how they want people to think medical research is supposed to be conducted. So, let’s break this down. 

1. “Someone should tell self-important anti-gun doctors to stay in their lane. Half of the articles in Annals of Internal Medicine are pushing for gun control.” 

What liberal bias — a sizable amount of the research done on gun violence indicates that improving firearm regulations might actually curb gun violence! This phenomenon seems to occur whenever multiple people study a topic openly with scientific rigor — they start to get similar results independently of one another. Obviously, this must stem from underhanded manipulation of the truth by leftist academics rather than, say, the fact that fewer guns around means there are fewer opportunities to get shot. Regardless, there’s still one thing the NRA doesn’t get: why would the medical community study something that caused 38,000 American deaths in 2016? I mean, how could anything causally linked to 38,000 deaths be considered a health risk, and why would physicians want to reduce that number? Why can’t they stay in their lane and let people directly related to this phenomenon study it? Why can’t we leave research on gun violence to spree killers, rednecks and street gangs?  Actually, why stop there? Let’s restrict the study of blunt head trauma to old football players! Let’s stop anybody from investigating the environmental impacts of deforestation, unless they’re part of a logging company! Hell, let’s make it so that only oil companies’ opinions on climate change matter! If this were the case, I’m willing to bet these people will propose some real solutions. With that in mind, let’s move on to the NRA’s gripes with the paper’s sources.

2. “Most upsetting, however, the medical community seems to have consulted NO ONE but themselves.”

Funnily enough, if you read the paper’s citations, you’ll find this isn’t true. Even if you only read the NRA’s take, you’d know that the paper included a statistician’s survey data about gun safety in a rural county in Iowa, which is hardly a medical journal. That said, let’s assume everyone this paper cited, including multiple prominent figures in the legal community, various police departments, sociologists, statisticians, the Department of Justice, and the entire Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, are secretly medical doctors playing dress up — who else does the NRA think they were supposed to consult? It’s not like a perfect method of preventing gun violence was hidden in a linguistics paper. Those geophysicists haven’t been secretly keeping it from us all this time. Are we supposed to cite the NRA itself? I’m open to the idea, provided that what they produce passes peer review, but I haven’t heard of anything new coming from the Charlton Heston Memorial Laboratory as of late. Dr. Ted Nugent hasn’t published in Nature recently, either. So, for the time being, we’ll have to reference ballistic-trauma specialists and sociologists instead. Such dark times we live in. 

My complaints aside, there’s something we need to remember here — despite its flaws, more people are going to listen to the NRA’s opinion than that of the American College of Physicians since the NRA has the bigger platform. The intention behind their writing this was never to respond fairly; it’s a bad faith argument designed to discredit anything that might possibly contradict their rhetoric in the minds of the public, independent of the opposing claim’s content. I don’t mind it being propaganda, but I wish they’d actually put effort into it. 

Benjamin White is a Humor Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. He can be reached at humor@cavalierdaily.com.

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