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Thinking of Buying a Pistol? Doing So Is “Against Medical Advice” and We Urge You to Think Again

Authors: Thomas E. Kottke, MD, MSPH, Protect Minnesota Board Member; Caleb Schultz, MD, MPH, Protect Minnesota Advocacy Fund Board Member

The shooting and bombing at the Buffalo Allina Health Clinic was yet another chapter in our country’s ongoing saga of gun violence. This senseless act, perpetrated on health care workers, is especially horrific for us as physicians because we care for people who have been shot. Early in the COVID-19 Pandemic, healthcare workers were praised as heroes because they went to the front lines of a battle against a deadly viral foe without adequate protection. After the shooting, we wonder whether our next protection needs to be a bulletproof vest.

And what was our community’s response for the healthcare hero victims of the Buffalo Clinic shooting? Thoughts and prayers. Thoughts and prayers?! Such empty words are about as effective against gun violence as they would be against COVID-19.

A tragically common and dangerous community response to events like the Buffalo Clinic shooting has been to buy more guns. It happened after the Capitol domestic terrorist attack and start of the COVID-19 pandemic, too. Maybe it is because folks have a “good guy with a gun” fantasy and believe they will stop the next mass shooter before he kills. Far more likely to happen is one of the following scenarios: 

  • You shoot and kill yourself either accidentally or in a moment of despair; 
  • You shoot and kill a member of your household, either accidentally or in a moment of anger; 
  • a member of your household, perhaps even a young child, shoots and kills you, a parent, a brother, a sister or a visitor to your home; 
  • a member of your household takes your pistol to school or work and kills or shoots someone or many;
  • an intruder disarms you and shoots or kills you or another member of your household with your own pistol;
  • an intruder disarms you and holding your own pistol to you at gunpoint commits egregious acts of violence against you or another member of your household
  • an intruder targets your home for robbery to steal your pistol and then uses it in a crime, killing someone in the process.

 

History and the best available science shows that each one of these scenarios is far more likely to occur than you confronting and stopping a mass shooter. So, think again, change your mind, and decide not to buy a pistol.

If you decide to ignore “doctor’s orders” and buy a pistol anyway, please do the following:

  • Attend a firearm safety course and pay attention
  • Buy an RFID biometric pistol lockbox (about $100) and keep your pistol in it at all times.

 

Everyone you come in contact with will be safer as a result, but still less safe than if you did not buy a pistol in the first place.

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