The Surgeon General Takes Aim at Guns

President Biden’s monumentally bad debate performance overshadowed some other important developments. Among them, the Surgeon General recently issued a report describing “gun violence” as a public health problem. I guess knife, bare hand, and baseball bat violence are presently manageable.

The Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, is an ideologue and also hoping to make his mark on history. He is well aware of the Surgeon General’s consequential 1964 announcement that smoking may be dangerous to your health. At the time, the risks from smoking were either unknown or still being debated, but smoking did go down significantly after the issuance of the report. The report had a large impact because of the Surgeon General’s esteem and credibility; it is justifiably given a lot of credit for this decline.

Dr. Murthy is hoping that lightning will strike twice, but he seems blind to some important changes to American society since 1964. The mid-1960s were the high-water mark of national pride and trust in our institutions and leaders. This was before the emergence of the Rust Belt, Watergate, Vietnam, the explosion of divorce and drug use, and all the rest.

When the Surgeon General’s report came out, people deferred to authority and trusted large institutions. Those of middle age benefited from the New Deal and complied with the draft in World War II. This was the time of the uniformly dressed engineers of NASA and the Man in the Gray Flannel Suit.

Polling data shows a precipitous decline in trust in our leaders and large institutions since that time. Pretending this did not occur will not change this social reality.

Also, guns are not like smoking. Guns and gun rights are already a very political issue. And most of the debate devolves into philosophical questions rather than factual ones. Casting standard liberal arguments as “public health” conclusions does not make them more compelling.

In other words, there is little debate about the reality that guns can do good or bad. They can kill a trophy deer and defend a single mother from a violent intruder, or they can be discharged by a nihilistic 7-11 robber or used in a shooting spree. In other words, when it comes to guns, there are well-known tradeoffs between regulation and safety.

Dr. Murthy and others in health care hope that they can wave the wand of public health and brush over the complexities of this and other issues. But public health is not a blank check, and public health approaches cannot resolve the tradeoffs between safety and freedom that our right to keep and bear arms has already resolved. If ten-year potential prison sentences for being a “felon in possession” of a firearm are not deterring the criminal misuse of guns, it is doubtful a lecture or warning label from Dr. Murthy will do any good.

The right to keep and bear arms is an ancient, Anglo-American right, and it is in our blood as a people. Dr. Murthy is a foreign-born, Yale-brainwashed doctor whose parents were themselves immigrants to the U.K. From these inauspicious beginnings, Dr. Murthy grew up in the not-quite-American city of Miami. He is typical of the transnational, cosmopolitan elite that runs things today: they do not respect and cannot relate to what more rooted Americans hold to be sacred.

Not merely contemptuous of our ancient rights, Dr. Murthy seems blind to the lessons of very recent history. The entire public health establishment has blown its credibility in recent years. Public health authorities—seemingly drunk on power and indifferent to public resistance—insisted on masking, shutting down schools, imposing mandatory vaccinations and quarantines, and were responsible for the extreme cost of the COVID episode. Unfortunately, public health now means a monomaniacal focus on one set of concerns while deliberately ignoring every other aspect of human flourishing.

Even though studies had long shown the ineffectiveness of masks in a community setting, when COVID hit, public health authorities ignored their own science in order to create an environment of maximum fear. Hundreds of thousands of people lost jobs, were kicked out of the military, were shunned by friends and family, could not travel, moved across the country to escape tyrannical local regimes, or took a vaccine under duress.

Many of these people remain quietly angry over the way authorities showed no respect for human autonomy and no humility about the lackluster results of vaccines, masking, social distancing, and much else that was done in the name of fighting COVID. In spite of their massive toll on ordinary life, public health officials like Dr. Murthy are completely unrepentant.

In parallel with all the COVID nonsense, the powers-that-be endorsed a massive spasm of violence and anarchy under the rubric of Black Lives Matter in the summer of 2020. Almost every major city saw violence. And corporate America, Democratic politicians, and even public health authorities did a 180-degree turn from the restrictive environment aimed at COVID to support widespread violence and rioting. It was a ridiculous, politicized, and utterly transparent contradiction.

Cities burned and the cops were overwhelmed. Law-abiding citizens only had themselves, their friends and families, and their guns to keep them safe. Who was concerned with our health and safety then?

There is nothing to be taught about guns and gun control by Dr. Murthy, public health officials, or anyone else. There is a certain amount of unavoidable violence in our society, and it is markedly higher in our country than Europe because of the large presence here of disproportionately violent minority groups. The only thing that seems to work is locking up violent offenders a long time, not feel-good gun control laws. Maybe it could be different if our society were homogenous and had higher trust, but we have blown the last piece by importing more diversity from violent places and otherwise stressing what is left of the social trust that remains.

Under those circumstances, gun rights for the law-abiding majority are even more critical. If we cannot trust the authorities to protect us, and they have repeatedly shown themselves to be malevolent and self-interested, then we should at least have arms to protect ourselves and do what is necessary.

While I am not the Surgeon General, I am here to warn you: Giving up your guns may be dangerous to your health.


Christopher Roach is an adjunct fellow of the Center for American Greatness and an attorney in private practice based in Florida. He is a double graduate of the University of Chicago and has previously been published by The Federalist, Takimag, Chronicles, the Washington Legal Foundation, the Marine Corps Gazette, and the Orlando Sentinel. The views presented are solely his own.



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About Christopher Roach

Christopher Roach is an adjunct fellow of the Center for American Greatness and an attorney in private practice based in Florida. He is a double graduate of the University of Chicago and has previously been published by The Federalist, Takimag, Chronicles, the Washington Legal Foundation, the Marine Corps Gazette, and the Orlando Sentinel. The views presented are solely his own.

Photo: NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 10: Child Mind Institute Convenes Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff and U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy on World Mental Health Day for Youth Panel on October 10, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)

Notable Replies

  1. European women have had thousands, millions of unassimilable, violent, foreign, military-aged men imposed on them without any say over the matter. While that alone ought to have prompted them to “arm up”, they have been conditioned to be meek and pliant to government. As a result, they have suffered innumerable outrages (including the latest jailing of criticism of the rapists/perpetrators) including rape and murder. The only reason to strip the people of the right to keep and bear arms is to force the populace to comply with a tyrannical government’s harebrained ideas and policies.

    Americans are not enamored of government, but people like Murthy are. In fact, I would cite that mistrust in government is and ought to be a fundamental element encouraged in any American: native-born or imported. The belief that “anyone can be American” as long as that person has job skills or and education underscores the difficulty of our current situation with not only the unelected Murthy, but his supporters in Congress. Decades of absolutely insane immigration policies designed to placate Corporate America with cheap labor over other, more crucial beliefs and values in those to whom we grant citizenship has done more damage to this country, the electorate and by extension representation, and republican governance than even the Federal Reserve and its policies.

  2. I guess we need to revise the aphorism to: When guns are outlawed, only outlaws and the government will have guns. And F-16s.

  3. Alecto is right. European women have had “diversity” imposed on them in the form of millions of fighting-age men from Africa and the Mid-East who regard the fair sex as either baby-making chattel or fascinating exotic animals to be prayed upon. And the fact she alludes to–a German woman imprisoned for having “offended” a group of gang-rapists–hits home particularly hard at this time.

    However, I will also say that women–in Europe as well as the West in general–are partially complicit in all this. Historically, women vote Left with depressing consistency. Perhaps their innate maternal instinct buys into the “plight of the little guy” so effectively peddled by leftist demagogues; perhaps their own first-world society’s ennui pushes them towards spicing up life with problems we wouldn’t otherwise have. Regardless, ladies, much of what’s happening today is the result of your voting habits. Yes, including guys in women’s sports and locker-rooms–which is why I am more bemused than enraged by this subject.

    Women may just be the most consequential voting bloc in the whole of Western democracies. Yet, they seem to gravitate towards collectivism, statism, and nanny-state-ism. Perhaps Napoleon was right: when women look at Liberty, they are envious of her beauty and thus tend to oppose it.

  4. Avatar for task task says:

    Women vote left because they believe that government will provide and protect. How do I know? Because I speak to them. In fact it is the same reason that people of the Jewish fate vote left. I will never forget the episode I had with a tattooed Holocaust survivor who did not understand way I was reluctant to pay lots of federal taxes. Her confusion came from my failure to understand that the US government was a benevolent government that believed in taking care of its citizens. I told her to reread the Nazi planks and then explain why one of the most civilized countries in the world became the monstrous, malevolent, regime it became. And never forget that the Germans were (and still are) socialists.

    What gives the American people security and faith in their country is not the Constitution and the Bill of Rights but the Separation of Powers Doctrine and that concept is about power shared among all three branches and also the security that if the need arises they do not have to succumb to a predatory well armed government because they have the power to keep the government polite and afraid using their own weapons. The object is to always keep any government afraid of the people. The American government was designed to keep chains around itself. It was also a government that shared power not only among its branches but also among its states and their people. That goes right down to the smallest member of any group… the individual.

  5. I believe there are a few of those for sale on ebay, too! No doubt they’re excess to requirements from Ukraine.

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