In his editorial "Private Arsenals and Public Peril," (New England Journal of Medicine, May 7, 1998) editor Jerome Kassirer writes,We must ratchet down our nation's firepower. It is time to eliminate semiautomatic firearms from private homes...It is time to end the forearm industry's status as America's last unregulated industry; a federal agency should be given standard-setting authority over the industry and its products...It is also time to lay to rest the myth that keeping firearms in the home protects people against personal injury.
Had Dr. Kassirer gone to law school (or even paid attention in 9th grade civics!), he would be familiar with the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which reads in relevant part:...the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
And just what does this language mean?
Thomas Jefferson said,The Constitution... of the United States asserts that all power is inherent in the people... it is their right and duty to be at all times armed.
Thomas Paine said,... arms discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property. Horrid mischief would ensure were [the law-abiding] deprived of the use of them.
Richard Henry Lee said,To preserve liberty it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms and be taught alike... how to use them.
Samuel Adams said,The Constitution shall never be construed to prevent... peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms.
The issue of firearms ownership is a matter of constitutional law. It is not a medical or public health issue. And Kassirer should stick to those topics. Recently, he's had some problems.
In addition to publishing its share of junk science, the New England Journal of Medicine, thanks to its editors, has recently had several embarrassing controversies, ranging from failing to manage conflicts-of-interest to ignoring the existence of its editorial board.
Dr. Kassirer should focus on improving the Journal before venturing into the (apparently) unknown realm of the Constitution and its Bill of Rights.
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