–  LEE HIEB, M.D.

In recent years, some physicians and physician groups have proposed that “gun violence” be considered a disease – that we should analyze these public mass shootings as we would a disease and, using that paradigm, search for a cure.

Of course their cure is always disarmament of all citizens, not just criminals. But the same docs want more “evidence-based medicine,” and the evidence points to a very different approach.

In the late 18th century, a London physician, Edward Jenner, learned from local dairymen that dairy maids who got cowpox never contracted the more fatal smallpox. He speculated that cowpox somehow prevented smallpox and tested this theory by taking germs from the cowpox lesions and inoculating unexposed persons. These people were shown to survive smallpox outbreaks unscathed and thus was born the science of immunology and the process of controlling the deadly disease of smallpox. This is real science – observation, testing and practice – no politics involved.

If we observe gun violence as a “disease,” one thing is strikingly clear – this disease never strikes people known to be or potentially armed! It may be true that the recent Connecticut shooter was mentally ill, but he was not so crazy as to take on a police station. Neither he, nor any of the other similar shooters, decide to shoot up gun stores or NRA conventioneers. They may be crazy, but apparently not that crazy.

No, they invariably pick gun-free zones for their mayhem. And when confronted with an armed counterforce, they either surrender or shoot themselves. They do not wage gun battles against other armed people.

So, using the logic of Edward Jenner, the inoculation to prevent the disease of gun violence is putting guns into the hands of potential victims. So thinking like Edward Jenner, lets see what happens when we do just that – arm citizens by permitting concealed carrying of firearms.

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