Written by someone other than myself. Someone told me today that they were shocked that I haven't given my viewpoint on the gun debate. I was going to stay out of it, but honestly, it's been a week of the same garbage, so I'm going to speak on this briefly (well, not so briefly ..... here goes). A Point-by-Point primer on the gun debate (from a legal gun owner and father) I have 2 little girls in school right now. I am a member of the NRA, I shoot competitively, and I own a lot of guns. But if you told me that giving up all of my guns would ensure there would never be another child murdered by a lunatic, I would voluntarily give them up in a heartbeat. I think most legal gun owners would do the same. Would it help? No. The only thing I have seen on TV and rampant on Facebook for the last week is how we must ban AR-15's. I've actually seen some destroying or turning in their AR-15's to law enforcement for some unknown reason. Most people screaming for a rifle ban couldn't pick an AR-15 out of a lineup if it saved their life. Most people can't tell you the difference between automatic weapons (which, by the way, are illegal without heavy licensure) and semi-automatic. Most can't tell you what an "assault rifle" is - mainly because that's a "BS," made-up term. So, I'm going to present some facts - backed up by evidence and statistics - to help paint a picture of why banning a weapon will do nothing. I ask you gun control advocates to keep an open mind as you read (if you choose to read). But at the same time, I will offer a suggestion on something I have written the White House and our State Senator about that has the potential to help. So, here we go - facts and stats 1st: -The USA has, by far, the highest per capita gun ownership in the world. What is per capita gun ownership? Basically, when measured by number of guns owned per 100 residents - the USA leads the list at 90. 90 guns owned per every 100 residents. -The estimate is that a total over 360 million guns are privately owned in the US. 15 million of those 360 million are AR-15s. -The AR in AR-15 does not stand for Assault Rifle and it doesn't stand for Automatic Rifle either. The AR stands for ArmaLite Rifle, after the company that developed it in the 1950s. "Assault" is a verb - not a noun - assault is what you do with a weapon. I can assault you with a stick (it doesn't make it an "assault stick" or maybe it does). I own an M4 (a beefed up, full bolt version of the AR-15), and yes, for all the people that say "why do you need that?", I do hunt with it depending on the hunt. I also shoot competitively - not only with my rifles, but with shotguns and pistols. -Have you heard that these "assault rifles" are used in the majority of homicides? I heard that - this week. On the news. Is it true? Not even close. According to the FBI, rifles of all kinds account for 3% of firearm homicides. Clubs, hammers, hands, fists and knives are all used to kill much more frequently than a rifle. According to FBI statistics, you are 3 times more likely to be stabbed to death than to be killed with a rifle. Don't think you can mass kill with a knife? Just 3 years ago, a group of 3 men in China went on a killing spree in a train station. They killed 33 and wounded 130 more. Not a single gun was used - they only had knives. -Contrary to what news outlets like to convey, the vast majority of mass shootings involve pistols. How many CNN anchors have you heard this week claiming the AR-15 to be the "weapon of choice for mass shooters?" Again, more "BS." In a review of mass shootings from 1982-2012, 66 percent of the weapons used in mass shootings were pistols. That same review found that only 14% of weapons used in "mass shootings" would qualify as an assault weapon under the definition used in a 2013 bill sponsored by Dianne Feinstien (D-Calif). -In a secondary review of mass shootings from 1982-2017, about 1/4 of mass shootings involved a rifle (of any type - including but not limited to the AR-15), almost 1/4 of mass shootings were performed using a garden variety shotgun. Well over 1/2 of all mass shootings in that same time period used pistols only. -The Va Tech shooter killed more than double the amount of students recently killed in Florida. He only used pistols. No rifles were used in that spree ( http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/16/us/16cnd-shooting.html ). So, will banning the AR-15 do anything? No, and here's why. A person dead set on committing murder doesn't care about your law. If he can not legally buy an AR-15, he'll get one illegally, on the black market. Remember he/she is a criminal; they don't care about your law. So, let's play devil's advocate and say we confiscate, and even eliminate all AR-15s and similar rifles, and they aren't available - even on the black market. The criminal will still mass murder - using a shotgun. Remember, almost as many mass shootings have involved garden variety shotguns. So, we'll ban, confiscate and destroy shotguns. OK, the criminal will move to pistols - banning the rifle or shotguns will simply change the 66% of mass shooting being with pistol to 90+%. So, ban the pistols then. They'll move to knives, they'll go on the dark web and find instructions that allow them to make a bomb (capable of killing and maiming hundreds at a time) that they can make out of household items in less than 10 minutes. Banning an AR-15 simply takes it out the hands of the legal gun owners. It won't keep it out of the hands of criminals - and even if it does, it will simply drive them to change the instrument. It's like taking away the truck they would use to drive to the mass shooting. They'll find another way ( maybe a box truck rented from Home Depot - https://tinyurl.com/y9p4cqlm ). So, what about people that buy it legally and then snap? Ahh, there's where the problem lies.....and there is where we can make a difference. How? Everyone likes to yell "gun control," but no one seems to be able to give a detailed answer on what that means (outside of ban, ban, ban!). We have gun control laws now. The problem is they aren't enforced. And now that the details start to emerge we can see how many red flags were overlooked with this kid in Florida. He told people he was going to do this. He was reported to the FBI. Twice! He was treated in a mental health facility for psychiatric illness and yet he was still able to purchase this weapon legally. That is absurd. This is the heart of the problem. Show me a mass shooter in recent memory that has not had a documented history of psychiatric illness. I am a physician and I'm all for following HIPAA guidelines but we must lighten up on HIPAA guidelines and merge the ICD-10 diagnoses codes for mental illness from the electronic medical record to the FBI Background Check National Database so that individuals who have a history of psychiatric illnesses that predispose them to homicidal and suicidal tendencies, are kicked out of the system just as any felon would be. If I smack my wife, she reports it, and I go a month later and try to buy a gun, I can't. But I can threaten to kill people, actually promise to be a "school shooter," even be treated for schizophrenia and still LEGALLY purchase a firearm. In an effort to enact some form of change, I have written both the President and Tennessee State Senator Lamar Alexander. (Who of you would have ever thought the first time I'd write our President or Senator would have been in the name of gun control?) Will it fix everything? No way, but it's a start, and it does have the power to prevent a person with schizophrenia from walking in to Bass Pro Shop and leaving with an AR-15 and 500 rounds in 20 minutes. Please recall, most every person who committed a mass shooting in recent memory obtained their gun legally. There's no excuse for that. Until we enforce our current gun laws and do everything possible to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill, this problem will not change. And it has to change. It just simply doesn't change by targeting a weapon that looks "scary." I hope I've opened a few eyes here. Disclaimer: These are my views. They may not be your views. I won't get in to a verbal sparring match with you over this. If you'd like to talk more about this, call me. I'll have you over to my house and we'll discuss it. I'll provide the cigars.