Do no harm
Social media has been abuzz in the firearms community when someone screen captured a psychiatrist telling someone to kill themselves during a conversation about firearms.
I wish I was joking about this. Dr Gregg Gorton isn’t just some mental health counselor. He’s a psychiatrist.
What’s even worse is that he works for the Veteran’s Administration, dealing with veterans who’ve carried firearms in the worst possible situations. Veterans are a large segment of gun owners, so how is his professional behavior impacted by these opinions he holds?
He issued an “apology” (if you could call it that) after people started getting word about what he’d done, but this raises a number of interesting points.
The antigun movement has repeatedly floated a talking point where they suggest that firearms owners should be required to pass regular mental health evaluations prior to owning a gun. Ignoring the obvious problem that there aren’t enough qualified mental health professionals in the US to administer these tests, this is reminiscent of the Literacy Tests used to disenfranchise minorities during & after Reconstruction. Such evaluations wouldn’t be performed for free either, so the historically literate should see the obvious similarity to Poll Taxes.
The biggest problem, however, isn’t that there aren’t enough doctors to do it, or that it will disproportionately prevent minorities from owning guns. Instead, the largest issue is that it turns a right into a privilege subject to the whim of another. The evaluating physician’s opinion will trump the rights of the individual. Where this becomes particularly troublesome is when you have people like Dr. Gorton above, telling people they disagree with to kill themselves.
See, Psychiatrists aren’t just handed their medical degrees and told to start their practice. After college, and then medical school (a 4 year process), psychiatrists then go through a 4 year residency program, then must pass licensing and board certification exams. After all of this, and the years of specific training on dealing with mental health issues, you still get doctors like the above who can’t control themselves. Or abusing their patients.
Despite this, however, they are not firearms experts. They are not firearms policy experts. So when you have organizations like the American Psychiatric Association teaming up with other groups to call for stricter gun control such as “assault weapons bans” and “high capacity magazine bans” they are making an Appeal to Authority on a subject they have little to no knowledge.
Giving these same doctors the ability to be the final arbiter of firearms ownership for millions of Americans has a staggering potential for abuse.