By David Codrea
USA – -(Ammoland.com)- “More than half of handgun buyers would consider ‘smart' guns: Study,” NBC News triumphantly advertises. “Smart guns: 60% of Americans would buy one,” Medical News Today echoes.
And it’s not just that the public is clamoring for them like they’re hotcakes, there’s also the added citizen disarmament lobby bonus of kicking around the National Rifle Association.
“New data bucks gun industry claim, finds US majority supports smart guns,” the technology news site ArsTechnica proclaims. “NRA lies smartly exposed: The truth about consumer demand for life-saving smart guns,” rabidly anti-gun The New York Daily News gloats.
Could there be an actual “Gotcha!” in here somewhere?
First, let’s consider the source, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. That's “Bloomberg,” as in Michael Bloomberg. And while ad hominem arguments are generally considered unreliable logical fallacies, a prudent reviewer of claims will keep motives and incentives in mind.
That means we can’t exclusively rely on a press release that summarizes findings published in the American Journal of Public Health. Nor can we conclusively ascertain study validity from the AJPH abstract. What we actually need is the study itself, which, unfortunately, requires APHA membership, a subscriber sign-in, and an access fee.
Fortunately, I have some contacts who managed to get hold of a copy of the report. No, I won’t tell you from whom, and I can’t just post it without running afoul of the copyright and getting sued, but I can give some select insights and fair use quotes that anyone with access to the study can use to ensure representations made here are accurate.
The first thing that strikes anyone interested in reality is what the media is presenting to the public as settled science is published under the category heading of “AJPG Editorial.” It’s an opinion piece!
Did any establishment “news” outlet tell you that?
As for its major premise, there’s a quote I borrow on occasion from author Thomas Pynchon’s “Gravity’s Rainbow”:
“If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about answers.”
In this case, the stud… uh …editorial asked:
If you were to purchase a new handgun, how willing would you be to purchase a childproof gun that fires only for authorized users?
They’re assuming the gun would, in fact. fire when needed, but their question is essentially similar to what was posed in the supposedly-“debunked” National Shooting Sports Foundation survey. That one asked “How likely would you be to purchase a gun with smart gun technology that prevented it from firing except for specific authorized users?”
The thing is, NSSF included additional considerations, telling respondents “such firearms would incorporate biometric or radio frequency identification (RFID) with an activation system that would rely on battery power.” In other words, different conclusions were the result of different survey parameters, not due to some nefarious industry cover-up plot, as is being implied by the rub-it-in media.
But it’s not like they have any interest in fairly presenting NRA and NSSF positions. Those are, respectively:
The NRA doesn’t oppose the development of “smart” guns, nor the ability of Americans to voluntarily acquire them. However, NRA opposes any law prohibiting Americans from acquiring or possessing firearms that don’t possess “smart” gun technology.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation does not oppose the development of owner authorized technology for firearms and, should such products come to market, individuals should be able to decide for themselves whether they want to purchase them. However, we do oppose legislative mandates that would require manufacturers to produce only such firearms…
It’s the gun-grabbers who have introduced gun ban edicts requiring “smart guns.” That’s where the political opposition comes from. And it’s lying “progressives” who equate calling “Foul!” on such mandates with being obstructionist Luddites.
As “First do no harm” is a fundamental principle taught to all health care students, it’s fair to ask how the authors of the AJPG opinion piece applied the maxim to their published work, and if they had any motives beyond the stated ones of injury prevention and saving lives. It’s especially fair since nowhere do they acknowledge that there may be a downside to “smart guns,” and that they may instead contribute to negative outcomes, especially if devices that complicate mechanical functions lead to performance failures in times of need.
Maybe the authors have never had a garage door opener or TV remote fail to work instantly.
But just as physician qualifications to prescribe one-size-fits-all “safe” gun storage practices ought to be questioned, so, too, should their expertise and competence when it comes to stumping for “smart guns.” After all, even though we know these folks have prestigious specialized education and experience, they’re not experts in everything. If your car was making a funny noise when accelerating, it’s doubtful you’d take it to one of them for a diagnosis.
So if we’re going to listen to the Johns Hopkins/Bloomberg “experts” on guns, it’s fair to ask “Who are these guys?” What do they know about gun design and manufacture? What do they know about defensive gun use? If we're to accept them as subject matter experts, what certifications in either field have they achieved?
First we have Julia Wolfson, Ph.D Candidate at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. It looks like she’s specialized in “dietary patterns and behaviors,” and has even been a chef! Not to mention an assistant to the New York Civil Liberties Union Legal Director, meaning it’s a pretty safe bet where her political sympathies lie, as the fundraiser for Obama she participated in shows.
Next we have Stephen P. Teret, JD, MPH. He’s a lawyer. He’s a policy wonk. Whether he knows more about guns than NRA trained gunsmiths or more about gun use than certified NRA Instructors is not demonstrated anywhere in his CV. At least we know he’s “competent” at upping untold health, injury and death risks — both to enforcers and to gun owners who will not comply with being disarmed — what with his advocacy for making “certain guns and ammunition clips illegal.” (And if calling magazines “clips” doesn’t scream gun expertise, what does?)
Joining the team is Shannon Frattaroli, Ph.D, who among her many other significant achievements, besides being able to pontificate on residential sprinklers (whether she can install them is another matter), is a Delta Omega Faculty Inductee, as well as recipient of many other teaching and policy awards, none, unfortunately in defensive gun usage. She does, however, lend her support to anti-gun forums that include the likes of Democrat VA Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam and gun-grabbers Josh Horowitz and Lori Haas.
It would be hard to argue with Matthew Miller, MD, MPH, Sc.D., if the subjects were either internal medicine or medical oncology. But that’s not what the subject is here, is it? Likewise, Deborah Azrael, Ph.D, must be a whiz at whatever a Ph.D and M.S. from Harvard and an undergraduate degree from Harvard-Radcliffe allow you to be a whiz at. You know, stuff like co-authoring a letter to The Washington Post with Matthew praising Hillary Clinton‘s gun policies…
The abandonment of medical ethics in order to achieve political goals is an old phenomenon for those who monitor such things, as noted by Miguel A. Faria, Jr., M.D., in his landmark “The Perversion of Science and Medicine (Part III): Public Health and Gun Control Research.” It’s what resulted in funding being withheld from Centers for Disease Control anti-gun political advocacy (not on legitimate research).
“Smart gun” market demand “findings” that the anti-gun media is mindlessly parroting are simply more Bloomberg-funded propaganda penned by shameless political hacks with advanced degrees. Anyone trying to tell you otherwise agrees with his citizen disarmament / monopoly of violence agenda.
About David Codrea:
David Codrea is the winner of multiple journalist awards for investigating / defending the RKBA and a long-time gun rights advocate who defiantly challenges the folly of citizen disarmament.