Yes, Doctors Should ‘Stay in Their Lane’ on Gun Policy

What kind of ignorant troglodyte would tell a doctor to mind his own business?

This was, in essence, the question an incredulous media was asking after the National Rifle Association disparaged the American College of Physicians (ACP) for promoting an array of gun-control regulations last week. “Someone should tell self-important anti-gun doctors to stay in their lane,” the NRA tweeted. “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.”

The reaction to the NRA’s reply was swift, overwhelming, and widely covered, giving the ACP exactly the attention they desired. (Did I mention these are doctors we’re talking about?) As it turns out, there are a number of very good reasons professional medical groups should “stay in their lane” on public policy. Many of these reasons were accentuated in this very debate.

For one thing, neither internists nor radiologists, by virtue of their career choice, have special expertise in public policy, gun ownership, or the relationship between firearms and the rights associated with them. Speaking about these issues with the authority of an expert is a transparent appeal to authority.

For another thing, the ACP uses its position to create the perception that “doctors”—virtually all of them—believe in one set of policy prescriptions. I have a feeling this isn’t true. Even if it were, though, doctors—physicists, engineers, teachers, business owners, truck drivers, and any other smart human being— are just as susceptible to partisan biases and agendas as anyone else is. (Read more from “Yes, Doctors Should ‘Stay in Their Lane’ on Gun Policy” HERE)

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