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By Larry Pratt

August 10, 2004

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) seems to believe that the only safe gun is no gun at all. This has been the view of most doctors who publish in medical journals in this country.

Data that have been collected about fatalities caused by America's health care system suggest that the anti-gun fervor of some doctors is born of a desire to shift the blame from their own shortcomings.

Deaths from guns are more highly publicized than are deaths from malpractice, hospital-induced infections, careless prescriptions and other health care system causes, and that makes guns a handy target for diverting attention from medicine's own death toll. It is not good science to depict guns as the biggest threat to America's children, but it sure beats accepting responsibility for one's own shortcomings.

In an article by Dr. Gary Null, et. al., (read archived article) government statistics were gathered to present an overall picture of the extent of death-by-medical-system that afflicts the United States.

Here is a summary of the data supporting Dr. Null's conclusion that the American medical system is the leading cause of death and injury in the United States.

For comparison, in 2001, the heart disease annual death toll was 699,697, and the cancer death toll was 553,251. The medical system death toll was 783,936!

Murder committed using firearms accounts for less than 10,000 victims and the accidental firearms death toll is little more than 1,000. About 120 or so kids under 14 are killed by gunshots.

The medical system mortalities break down this way: adverse drug reactions: 106,000; medical error: 98,000; bedsores: 115,000; infection: 88,000; malnutrition: 108,000; outpatients: 199,000; unnecessary procedures: 37,136; surgery-related: 32,000. As Dr. Null explains, these are conservative estimates that do not attempt to overcome the considerable limitations of self-reporting regarding error and negligence.

In view of this information, it might be asked, is the patient more at risk at the hospital when the nurse and doctor are in his room, or when four of his armed buddies are visiting? When the pediatrician, following the AAP's advice, invades his patient's privacy and asks if daddy has guns and where they are, who or what is the most dangerous -- the pediatrician or daddy's guns? Before answering, quick, review the numbers again.

If anti-gun doctors think we need gun control, should we ask them instead about medical system control?

Oh, physician, heal thyself!

� 2004 Larry Pratt - All Rights Reserved

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Larry Pratt has been Executive Director of Gun Owners of America for 27 years. GOA is a national membership organization of 300,000 Americans dedicated to promoting their second amendment freedom to keep and bear arms.

GOA lobbies for the pro-gun position in Washington and is involved in firearm issues in the states. GOA's work includes providing legal assistance to those involved in lawsuits with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the federal firearms law enforcement agency.

Pratt has appeared on numerous national radio and TV programs such as NBC's Today Show, CBS' Good Morning America, CNN's Crossfire and Larry King Live, Fox's Hannity & Colmes, MSNBC's Phil Donahue show and many others. He has debated Congressmen James Traficant, Jr. (D-OH), Charles Rangel (D-NY), Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), and Vice President Al Gore, among others. His columns have appeared in newspapers across the country.

He published a book, Armed People Victorious, in 1990 and was editor of a book, Safeguarding Liberty: The Constitution & Militias, 1995. His latest book, On the Firing Line: Essays in the Defense of Liberty was published in 2001.

Pratt has held elective office in the state legislature of Virginia, serving in the House of Delegates. Pratt directs a number of other public interest organizations and serves as the Vice-Chairman of the American Institute for Cancer Research.

The GOA web site is: Pratt's weekly talk show Live Fire is archived there at:   E-Mail:








Deaths from guns are more highly publicized than are deaths from malpractice, hospital-induced infections, careless prescriptions and other health care system causes