Guns are worse

This is an archived article that was published on in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

I was dismayed to again see the tired argument that the annual death rate from gun violence pales in comparison to the risk of death from medical mistakes ("Doctors and guns," Forum, Jan. 13). As a physician, I do that math every day — it is called risk-benefit analysis.

Yes, deaths by medical mistake occur, but millions of lives are saved or benefited in return. And physicians must go through extensive training, pass rigorous licensing exams and participate in ongoing education to reduce that risk. Millions are spent on other risk-reduction efforts.

In contrast, no solid evidence shows that "benefit" flows from arming average citizens. Rather, the gun lobby argues that the right to an assault weapon reflects a God-given right to protect oneself against assault or tyrannical government.

In reality, gun ownership puts people at increased risk of gun violence. The ratio of those harmed versus those protected by a gun is about 22 to 1 — numbers I attest to from personal experience.

And those arguing for Second Amendment rights most loudly are blocking efforts to reduce gun risk by defunding research and by blocking enforcement, universal background checks and efforts by physicians to warn patients about gun risks.

Ellen Brady, M.D.