letter to the editor, New York Times: "Guns in the Exam Room"

Posted on: Thu, 08/18/2011 - 12:19 By: Tom Swiss

The New York Times printed my letter to the science editor. (Any New York friends still have Tuesday's paper around and willing to hold page D4 for my scrapbook?) They trimmed it, of course, cutting out the good parts; the original version is below.

Amusing that some sort of automatic system apparently tagged "wasting" as related to muscle atrophy when they posted it to the web.

Re: "Gun Query Off Limits for Doctors in Florida" (August 9):

I'm fairly certain that firearms safety was not part of my doctor's medical training, and if she brought the topic up at my next appointment I'd be concerned about why she was wasting time on a minor threat to my health. More than four times as many people die in fires each year than in firearms accidents, yet I don't hear anyone calling matches a "public health issue".

So long as people like Dr. Marcus conflate murders and suicides by firearm with accidental deaths, people who understand the statistics will feel that they are being treated as potential murderers or suicide cases when doctors ask prying questions about firearms ownership. Firearms are just one of many potentially dangerous items in a home, and excessive focus on gun accidents reveals either ignorance of the facts or a political agenda.

Tom Swiss