It’s easier to get an assault weapon than a doctor

Its easier to get an assault weapon than a doctor

I pick up a Glock semiautomatic, the model used in the Virginia Tech massacre. I need to hold it, to feel it, to rub my finger across the trigger.

I don’t fear death. Raised in a morgue, I worked with my dad, the city medical examiner. As a kid, I watched autopsies and talked to dead people and made up heroic stories about their lives.

Now I’m moved by slaughtered innocence. But I can’t find peace—until today. Obsessed, I have to hold the Bushmaster AR-15, the model that killed those school kids. I need to feel the cold metal on my heart. I hug the gun, but still can’t feel all the pain. So I beg to hold the biggest, deadliest gun on display. When I look up, a crowd is smiling at me. I smile back. A doctor with an assault weapon makes people laugh.

Some things never make sense.

At today’s gun show, I’m offered assault weapons. No paperwork. I don’t even have to give my name.

Some guns are pink for girls. Some are really tiny. They all shoot—and kill. One seller mumbles, “Everybody wants something that will fit in their pocket and destroy the world.”

Providing health care in a country of gun lovers has its challenges.

In Oregon, rifles and shotguns are legal to own at 18. Handguns are legal at 21. I was 28, with 24 years of education, before I was legal to provide health care.

In Oregon, I don’t need a license to use my gun, but I do need a license to use my stethoscope.

To apply for my license, I had to submit a notarized application to the Oregon Medical Board with my birth certificate, medical diploma, photograph, fingerprints, national board exam transcript, and specialty board certificate, plus proof of internship, residency, and medical education with dean’s letter. I had to verify past employment, staff privileges, state licenses, and comply with a Federation Disciplinary Inquiry.

In Oregon, I don’t need to know how to read or write to buy a gun from a licensed dealer. My one-page background check can be legally filled out by just about anyone.

In Oregon, I don’t need a permit to use my gun, but I need permission to use my stethoscope—and that requires knowing how to read and write and complete pages and pages of documents. I had to account for all personal time since medical school, including nonmedical activities and vacations. I had to disclose all mental health treatment with names, dosages, and dates of my medications, plus names and addresses of my psychiatrists. Today, I don’t have to disclose any of that to get my gun.

In Oregon, I don’t need to register my gun. To provide health care I had to register and pay more than 1,000 dollars in fees to the Oregon Medical Board and Drug Enforcement Administration. Applications take 3 months or longer to process.

But there’s no waiting period for my gun. My instant background check takes less than 30 minutes and costs just 10 bucks.

In Oregon, it’s easy to get a gun. In Oregon, it’s easier to get an assault weapon than a doctor. In Oregon, our suicide rate is higher than national average, and physicians have the highest suicide rate of any profession. I’ve lost far too many colleagues. All men. Firearms are the method of choice. Some docs buy guns and kill themselves the same day. Receipt still in the bag.

Background check is done. Now one last decision: Bushmaster or Glock.

Pamela Wible pioneered the community-designed ideal medical clinic and blogs at Ideal Medical Care. She is the author of Pet Goats and Pap Smears.

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  • NormRx

    I have never read a column with more drivel than this one. The reason we license doctors is because (according to a published JAMA study) you doctors are the third leading cause of deaths in America. We have cardiac surgeons in California doing unnecessary by pass surgery in collusion with the hospital to generate more revenue. Doctors not washing their hands before surgery, cutting off the wrong limb, leaving instruments in a patients body, biting suture thread with their teeth. I could go on and on, but you get the point. We don’t need gun control, we need doctor control.

    • PamelaWibleMD

      Not sure how to respond to this. I guess you think it’s no problem to have easy access ti guns. What we need to do is decrease the number of doctors. ???

      • NormRx

        Yes, we do need to decrease the number of incompetent doctors. Doctors are very reluctant to out their fellow doctors regardless of their competence. I knew an allergist that had Parkinson’s with associative dementia, he would get lost in his office and parking lot. This went on for years until finally, the local doctors forced him to retire. I also knew doctors that were alcoholics and drug abusers. I could write a book on some of the incompetence I witnessed. Every doctor that uses pot, cocaine and any other illegal substance is adding to the murder count with guns. Over half of the gun deaths in this country are caused by drug gangs fighting over turf.

        • Cheryl Handy

          Very well said, Norm Rx. Once someone gets an MD, they are home free to be incompetent, selfish, evil. There is no “self policing.” We as patients have to trust MDs.

          Normal, sane doctors dont injure patients. And, normal, sane gun owners dont kill people (regardless of how scary the assault weapon looks).

          Think about cars – we all drive around in giant gas filled weapons. And we trust fellow drivers are sane, normal and competent.

          Gun control doesnt work because guns are pushed into black market. Then, law abiding people are at mercy of criminals.

    • Lata Potturi Schaedler

      We don’t need any gun control? Instead we need doctor control? How about both? I am always amazed at how horrifically threatened gun rights advocates get with the mere suggestion of gun control. It’s quite frightening, really.

  • WhiteCoatRants

    I don’t know what the problem is. The gun that you’re holding obviously has a clip that holds less than six bullets. Are you suggesting that it would somehow be safer without the pistol grip?
    In Chicago you can’t carry a gun period. Yet in 2012, the homicide rate in Chicago was five times that in the whole state of Oregon.
    I have no idea about the comparison between how hard it is to get a medical license in Illinois versus Oregon, but I do know that there is no Constitutional right to be a doctor.

    I also know that the rate of prescription overdose deaths in Oregon is twice that of homicides.
    What are you doing about all those assault prescriptions in your state?
    Some things never make sense …

    • Margalit Gur-Arie

      Even Justice Scalia, upholding this Constitutional right noted that “nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms”.

      So it’s not a question of principle (yes/no to guns), it is a question of proper implementation, e.g. ascertaining if the buyer is a felon or mentally ill (definition?), defining what can be sold and how it should be sold (conditions and qualifications). And the current implementation is flawed.
      Other things being flawed (prescriptions), does not imply that everything should remain flawed until everything can be fixed all at once.

      • ninguem

        You don’t pump your own gas in Oregon.

        We take that rule seriously.

        • buzzkillerjsmith

          I live in SE WA and go to OR a lot to camp and hike in the Wallowas, hang around in Bend, and to visit family in Medford. If they’re busy I pump my own gas, and, when confronted, pretend I didn’t know the rule. Gotta have my fun somehow.

          • ninguem

            you scofflaw

        • PamelaWibleMD

          Oregon and New Jersey. They pump.

      • PamelaWibleMD

        The definition of mental illness that would prevent one from passing a background check: Involuntarily institutionalized.

    • PamelaWibleMD

      Here’s the problem: easier to get an assault weapon than health care in Oregon.

      • NormRx

        B.S. You don’t get an assault weapon unless you pay for it. If you are willing to pay for your health care I am sure you can get it.

        • PamelaWibleMD

          Not without an appointment and a waiting period of possibly weeks. Then the average wait in a medical office waiting room is 24 minutes. You can get an assault weapon more quickly that that.No questions asked.

          • NormRx

            If you perceive that to be a problem with health care then maybe you should work to improve your own profession instead of trying to be an “expert” in a field you know nothing about.

          • PamelaWibleMD

            Guns are a public health issue. I am working on my own profession 24/7/365.

          • buzzkillerjsmith

            24/7/52. 52 weeks in a year, plus one or two days.

          • PamelaWibleMD

            Yep! A more than full-time job even though I work part-time.

          • JULIANNA234

            My mouth is full of testimonies, Am miss PRECIOUS E my husband left the home for two years to south Africa for a tourist, where he meant this prostitute and he was bewitch by the girl my husband refuse to come back home again, i cry day and night looking for who to help me, i read a news paper about a powerful spell caster called Dr Abulu and i contacted the spell caster to help me get my lover back to me and he ask me not to worry about it that the gods we fight for me.. he told me by mid-night when all the spirit is at rest he will cast a spell to reunite my lover back to me. and he did in less than 3 days my husband came back to me and started crying that i should for forgive him, i,m so happy for what this spell caster did for me and my husband.. Dr Abulu of

          • Ed Wood

            Weeks? I thought you lived in Oregon. Maybe for a specialist.

      • Ed Wood

        That’s not what you compared in the article. In fact that is false.

    • OBforObama

      There is no Constitutional right to own clothing either. Or food. Or water. Use an argument that makes some sense.

      You’re saying that somehow until all other sources of death other than natural causes are eliminated, we shouldn’t even look at an instrument that is sold, marketed, and coveted for one thing and one thing only: lethality. That’s why you want it. You don’t necessarily want to kill somebody. But you want to be able to. Even though it’s not a very good home defense weapon, you want it because it’s deadly.
      face the facts and quit hiding behind silly arguments.

  • ninguem

    The newest member of the Oregon Medical Association House of Delegates prepares for the next meeting.

    • PamelaWibleMD


      • ninguem

        I used to be a Delegate, I could have used that Bushmaster.

        • PamelaWibleMD

          Care to tell us who you are?

  • Terence Ivfmd Lee

    Here’s some food for thought then. Should all licensed doctors be allowed to bypass any extra screening for gun ownership? Or is there some theoretical scenario where it’s OK for a person to render medical scare, but not ok for him/her to own firearms? In other words, if “society” trusts a person’s judgment enough to put the health and lives of other people in his/her hands, why should there be any additional hoops to jump through to prove that person is responsible enough to make decisions regarding firearms?

    • PamelaWibleMD

      I got kicked out of a local shooting range. They thought I was unsafe to use a gun. But I have a license to practice medicine in Oregon. So I was basically profiled. Your theory did not work in my case. But interesting thought. We do have a high physician suicide rate. Men. Firearms. So an ethical conundrum. Healers harming themselves. Never a good sign.

      • NormRx

        If you got kicked out of a range because they thought you were unsafe, you probably were. Just because you have an M.D. behind your name doesn’t mean you know anything about guns, and your writing proves it. When you refer to “assault” weapons as weapons of mass destruction, please explain to me how a 223 Bushmaster “assault” weapon is more lethal and my 30-06 or .270 semi-auto deer rifle. By the way, nice picture, you remind me of the pictures frequently shown on TV of a bunch of rednecks holding their firearms outside their mountain shack.

        • PamelaWibleMD

          Thanks for the compliment. :) And any weapon that can hold 100 rounds has the potential to kill 100 people quickly. That sounds like mass destruction to me. Try killing 100 people with a hammer quickly.

          • NormRx

            So now any weapon that can hold 100 rounds is an assault weapon. Now you are talking magazine size (you noticed I said magazine size and not clip) Magazine size has nothing to do with the definition of assault weapon. Whether the weapon can fire full auto or not is the true definition of assault weapon. If I had a weapon that could shoot full auto or semi-auto and a 100 round magazine and was intent on maximum destruction I would choose semi-auto and aim for my targets. Why do you think the military added the third option of a three round burst to the select fire on the true AR 15? About the only time you want to use full auto is if you want to lay down covering fire.

      • Alison Galvan MD

        My son committed suicide 4 years ago. During the months before while he was undergoing treatment we changed the combination on the gun safe so he could not get to them. Then a friend of his told us he had threatened to hang himself, so my husband got rid of all the rope in his workshop. In the end, he used an extension cord. Don’t blame the suicide rate on guns. There are many ways to take your own life, and no one knows this better than a doctor.

      • ninguem

        Damn right they kicked you out of the shooting range.

        Now, medical association, I could see that……….

  • ninguem

    Call me crazy, but that doesn’t look like a Bushmaster AR-15, and definitely not a Glock.

    Looks more like a 50-cal sniper rifle. I believe Bushmaster makes one.

    And I don’t even own a gun.

    • PamelaWibleMD

      you are correct. this is what hey handed me when I asked them to get out the “big guns!”

      • ninguem

        So……..let me get this straight.

        You walked into a gun shop wearing scrubs and a stethoscope.

        You asked them to hand you the biggest weapon in the store, and they hand you a Bushmaster 50-cal sniper rifle with a round big enough to penetrate the engine block of your car.

        What were their exact words at the gun shop?

        Inquiring minds want to know.

        • PamelaWibleMD

          No words. Laughter.

          • ninguem

            “…..Usually we sell these to the nuns at Peace Health, they aim them at Mckenzie Willamette…….”

          • PamelaWibleMD


          • ninguem

            After this gun pose, did you don a bikini and platform heels for one of them low-rider magazines?

          • buzzkillerjsmith

            Now you’re getting inappropriate. Please keep it up.

          • ninguem

            sorry pam that was inappropriate

            …..sitting in corner with dunce cap……..

            ….what was i thinking, making suggestive cheesecake comments to someone holding a 50-cal sniper rifle………

          • PamelaWibleMD

            I can handle it. I can handle almost anything. Rarely if ever been offended.

          • buzzkillerjsmith

            With that attitude you should do well in medicine.

          • ninguem

            Bushmaster. Bah.

            You call this big?

            This is Eugene. We roll joints bigger than this.

          • PamelaWibleMD

            ninguem is hilarious. i LOVE your humor. One day we will meet!

  • Ambulance_Driver

    What utter and absolute tripe. All those years in undergraduate and medical school, and you still never learned to think critically.

    At today’s gun show, I’m offered assault weapons. No paperwork. I don’t even have to give my name.

    Why, to hold an inanimate object? Last time I went to a uniform shoppe, they didn’t ask me for my paramedic license to examine the stethoscopes on display.

    In Oregon, rifles and shotguns are legal to own at 18. Handguns are legal at 21. I was 28, with 24 years of education, before I was legal to provide health care.

    Apples, oranges. 18 is the legal age of majority in this country. You were legal to do everything an adult does at age 18, save drinking alcohol or purchasing a handgun. You chose to spend an extra ten years getting an expensive education. One has little to do with the other.

    In Oregon, I don’t need to know how to read or write to buy a gun from a
    licensed dealer. My one-page background check can be legally filled out
    by just about anyone.

    You don’t need to be able to read or write to vote, either. Would you prefer we go back to literacy tests for voting privileges?

    In Oregon, I don’t need a permit to use my gun, but I need permission to use my stethoscope.

    Horse manure. You need permission to practice as a doctor. Using your stethoscope requires nothing.

    Some docs buy guns and kill themselves the same day. Receipt still in the bag.

    Many more docs get addicted to prescription medications, and become a danger to themselves and others because of it. Shall we forbid doctors to use or prescribe medication?

    In Oregon, it’s easier to get an assault weapon than a doctor.

    In all this touchy-feely, magical thinking drivel you’ve written here, this is the only thing that comes close to a true statement. Physician shortages are a very real problem.

    tools, on the other hand, are readily available. It’s easier to buy a baseball bat than find a doctor, and they kill far more people every year than assault weapons. Hands and fists require no monetary investment at all, and the vast majority of human beings are born with TWO of them, and they kill far more people than assault weapons.

    Those physician shortages are due to the extensive amount of time it takes to train a doctor, only to have them graduate with crippling debt, and burdened by a mountain of regulation and a reimbursement system so arcane it makes the Federal tax code look simple.

    Of course, medical malpractice kills far more people every year than assault weapons, so maybe that degree of regulation is necessary to protect us from doctors.

    • NormRx

      Great Post

    • PamelaWibleMD

      No paperwork. No ID needed to buy an assault weapon of mass destruction. Violence is more accessible and less regulated than healing. Guns vs. stethoscopes; guns win.

      • NormRx

        Are you aware that more people are murdered each year with hammers, baseball bats and other blunt instruments than all rifles including assault rifles and shotguns combined?

        • Margalit Gur-Arie
          • NormRx

            FBI — Expanded Homicide Data Table 8
            Check the data, it states exactly what I said. I did not say all guns, I said rifles and shotguns. Since the discussion is about assault rifles the data clearly shows that all rifles including assault rifles are rarely used to commit murder..

          • PamelaWibleMD

            Assault weapons are used to kill many people quickly. Stethoscopes are used to listen to one person slowly and carefully. Why make it easier to use an assault weapon than a stethoscope?

          • NormRx

            Who the hell compared assault weapons to a stethoscope? I certainly didn’t. When are you going to answer my question? How is a Bushmaster .223 assault style (you noticed I said assault style, because a true assault weapon can fire a single shot, a three round burst or full auto.) weapon more dangerous than my .270 short mag Weatherby, my 30-06 or my 308 deer rifles all are semi- auto. I will be waiting for your answer.

          • PamelaWibleMD

            I’m the one that compared the two. Blame me.

          • OBforObama

            Do you have a 30 round magazine for your 30.06? Is the round for your .270 Weatherby designed to tumble more the further it gets from the muzzle? Do you use your AR-15 to hunt deer?

            The other weapons are typically designed for hunting. Of course they can be used to commit mayhem for humans. But that’s not what they are designed for. The AR/AK platforms have really only one purpose.

            I agree that the semi-auto component is problematical. But instead of pretending that the AR15/AK type weapons are harmless, how about finding a way to address the problem instead of pretending there isn’t one, and of COURSE it has nothing to do with the guns.

          • NormRx

            You have to be the dumbest person posting here. You know absolutely nothing about guns. I will not waste my time trying to educate you.

        • OBforObama

          More NRA BS. Guns kill lots more people, and more at a time, than blunt instruments. Nobody commits suicide with a bat or blunt instrument. Stop evading the obvious: You wouldn’t care about them if they weren’t more lethal. That is the point. To pretend otherwise is just ludicrous.

          Seriously, what is a secondary use for an AR-15 other than sending multiple projectiles downrange speedily and accurately to punch holes in something?

          • NormRx

            No, but they commit suicide with rope, knives, drugs, poisons, jumping off bridges, jumping in front of trains and a number of other ways. If all guns were confiscated no doubt gun suicide rates would drop, but over all suicides would not. Many gun control countries have higher suicides rates than the US. In Vietnam the people drink insecticide and in Japan they jump in front of high speed trains. I have a buddy whose sister tried to commit suicide by doing a head on with a truck, she was unsuccessful, After several weeks in the hospital she was released, got a gun and finished the job. She should have used the gun in the first place instead of almost taking another life in her vain attempt at suicide. As far as my comment about guns and blunt instruments, before you shoot off your mouth, read my statement, I specifically said all rifles and shotguns, not all guns. And all rifles includes assault rifles.

        • Kevin A Evans

          complete, utter, total nonsense.

      • Ed Wood

        Did it occur to you that maybe healing was over regulated?

        • PamelaWibleMD

          That is the point. This is really more of a pro-stethoscope piece.

          • Edward Wood

            Good to know. Thanks for replying

          • PamelaWibleMD

            Sure. I know we all have more in common than we like to admit.

      • Codewizard

        Fertilizer does not require a license or ID, either. Is that your next target. I hope you know medicine better than you know the 2d Amendment, violence, or logic.

    • LissaKay

      In which a paramedic schools a doctor … again. (It happens quite frequently)

    • Ed Wood

      Good post. You said it all.

    • buzzkillerjsmith

      Wow, a truly impressive smackdown. Dr. W doesn’t like guns. Fine. By advancing foolish arguments in no way to convince people.

      • PamelaWibleMD

        I do not say that I do not like guns. Guns are just a tool. Stethoscopes are just tools. The human mind controls both. Why regulate health care more than violence?

        • meyati

          Because according to other articles-doctors kill more people than guns. I was poisoned by statin-then when I finally seemed to be over most of the effects, I got cancer. I had a ‘zit’ for 20 years. Cutting it out would have kept it at stage 1, but doctors said that I was already pretty-don’t be so vain-so now I’m a patient at MD Anderson. I’m having radiation, had part of my nose and lip removed, I was asked by dermatologists if I’d mind have full body exams with the dermatology students. I did that for 4 years. Don’t go to a dermatologist trained at UNM–

        • buzzkillerjsmith

          The lady doth protest too much. We’re not fools here, doctor.

        • Codewizard

          Violence IS regulated you twit.

          A gun is not “violence.” My God, how stupid can you be and still get an MD? Boards must be a piece of cake to pass; based upon her comments.

          • Kevin A Evans

            no, a gun isn’t violence. guns and weapons just make that violence far easier. and more likely. statistically.

        • Cheryl Handy

          Why regulate health care more than violence? We do regulate violence in the criminal justice system. The problem with guns is not the gun shows. The problem is the criminals who steal, trade guns for drugs.

          There are guns on the streets of Chicago – a city that has very harsh gun control laws. We don’t know who has the guns.

          How can you compare guns in the hands of criminals with licensed physicians? I doubt someone will jump from behind a building in Chicago and use their rouge stethoscope on me. But I have had Chicago cops stop me when I wander into a dangerous neighborhood and help escort me to safety.

        • Craig McDow

          Talk with Obama about regulation. pfffssst.

    • OBforObama

      Of course, suicide by hands or baseball bats is rare. Inept doctors typically can’t kill people 20 people in 30 seconds. Same with bats and hands.

      Assault weapons were not designed for hunting. They weren’t even designed for close-quarters defense, as the round gets more lethal the further it is from the barrel, up to a point of course. So it’s not even that great for home defense, unless you’re trying to take out somebody at distances quite a bit further than the length of most homes.

      Hammers can be used to pound and pull nails. Screwdrivers can drive screws, open paint cans, pry things open. They are not designed for causing injury or death at long distance, repeatedly, without having to load until you’ve done it 30 times. What else can an assault weapon do?

      I understand that there are a lot of problems with a ban, not least of which is the definition. But is it unreasonable to ask for gun owners to at least look and see if there is something that can be done? And just because assault weapons aren’t the most common source of death and maiming, is that any reason to not address them at all?

    • PuaHate

      LOL………an ambulance driver criticizing someone, that’s rich. As an ambulance driver, you are probably also married with kids, even though you still have to work for a living, and probably think working for a living is normal. My condolences go out to your kids ambulance driver, for having the unfortunate situation of being born to parents who have to work for a living, because they didn’t have the patience not to.

      • Ambulance_Driver

        Did you have a point to your comment, or was it just a poorly done troll?


      Excellent rebuttal. Simply having a firearm has saved me and family several times without ever firing one in anger.

    • Kevin A Evans

      But medical malpractice isn’t designed to kill people and isn’t intentional while weapons, in general, were designed to do so but specifically and especially the assault weapons.

      • Ambulance_Driver

        Your point being… what, exactly?

        The weapon is an inert hunk of metal and plastic whose lethality is ENTIRELY dependent upon the intent of the user.
        You know, like a car.

        And last I checked, deliberately driving your car into a crowd of kids on a playground carries the same penalty as shooting a bunch of kids on a playground.
        The difference is only the artificial distinction you have created in your mind.

  • querywoman

    The licensing, with its all its loops and hurdles, serves to protect doctors, to keep it a profession, and to keep it profitable! I saw an interesting article once on how licensing does not protect the public, that it only protects physician income.
    The American medical schools have often been accused of deliberately keeping enrollment low!

    • NormRx

      In some states one needs a beautician license to corn roll someones hair. This law was passed because of intense lobbying by the beautician industry to limit competition. The same goes for pharmacist. Tell me, that someone needs 4-6 years of college to count, lick and stick. Most pharmacies have one pharmacist on duty and a half dozen techs on duty. I called on military bases and at times there was not one pharmacist on call, all they had were techs.

    • Jason Simpson

      OK, genius. If more doctors = lower healthcare costs then explain to me why Manhattan has the highest costs in the country and rural Wyoming has the lowest, even AFTER you factor out the cost of living adjustments.

      • PamelaWibleMD

        Ummmm. . . . not sure how this relates to guns, but I will give it some thought. I can tell you that insurance reimburses very differently from region to region without any rhyme or reason. I can make 3 x as much doing a physical in Eugene, Oregon as I would in middle-of-nowhere Ohio. Go figure.

    • PamelaWibleMD

      Now the reverse is true and there are building new medical schools everywhere! And I believe they used to limit enrollment. My uncle spoke before congressional committees in DC during the 70s trying to get hem to increase # of med students and doctors.

  • Sara Stein MD

    You’re not allowed to buy a gun that is taller than you. ;-)

    • PamelaWibleMD

      It’s no problem in OreGUN!

  • Jason Simpson

    I call BS on getting access to an assault rifle being easier than a doctor.

    A medicaid patient in Oregon gets a doctor visit for $5 co-pay. An assault rifle in oregon costs a MINIMUM of $400.

    • PamelaWibleMD

      A complete stranger will hand you an assault rifle for cash no questions asked on the spot. Try to get a doctor’s appointment when you need one. Could be 3 weeks out. And cost for uninsured at some medical groups in town for a first visit is more than an assault rifle. Depends how you compare. I was shocked at how easy it is to legally get an assault rifle at a gun show by my house. To get a doctor’s appointment you need to give your name and address and birthday. For an assault rifle – nothing!

      • NormRx

        Yea and I can find doctors in Florida that are running “pill mills” walk in tell him I have back pain, pay cash and walk out with a bag of Oxycontin. Why don’t you use your skills and training to clean up your own profession instead of worrying about something that you know absolutely nothing about. Over 500 deaths in Chicago last year, most of which were caused by feral inner city youths involved in the drug trade. How many E.R. doctors write a prescription for a narcotic to a know drug abuser just to get them out of the clinic and maybe get a good evaluation from the “patient.”

        • Alison Galvan MD

          NormRx, excellent point. I don’t have numbers to prove this, but I would imagine that deaths from overdoses on Rx meds are much higher than deaths from assault weapons. Pill mills are a real problem here in Louisiana. Conscientious doctors are having to drug screen their chronic pain med patients to verify that they are taking their meds and not selling them. Huge problem, much bigger than assault weapons, at least in my community.

          • NormRx

            The CDC reported in 2002 that more than 16,000 people died from drug overdose. Philadelphia looses more
            people to drug overdose than homicides.

          • PamelaWibleMD

            There is obviously a lot of misery and despair in America. I’m working on that too. See my other columns:

          • ninguem

            Oh, fine. I checked your blog, and there you are, advertising love at the corner of 7th and Washington.

            I told you, I work that corner.

            ….and right after I finished apologizing for inappropriate cheesecake comments to someone holding a 50-cal sniper rifle…….

        • PamelaWibleMD

          NormRx I am working on the overdose issue as well. Just posted a blog on that last night: A Love Letter to a Dead Doctor:

      • ninguem

        You walk into a doctor’s office with the cash needed to buy a Bushmaster AR-15 assault rifle and I guarantee you will be seen that day.

        AND…….if the patient chose not to give his name in my office, for privacy reasons and gave me the cash, unless the disease was reportable by law, I’d give that patient a unique identifier to my practice and he could call himself Napoleon as far as I’m concerned.

        Heck, the dermatologists got some bad publicity over that a while ago, and earned it. Someone called, claiming to be elderly with Medicare, had a skin lesion suspicious for cancer, the patient/caller got an appointment weeks into the future.

        Same patient called, same elderly person, but wanted Botox and willing to pay cash, that person was booked that day.

        Whether laws should be tightened for gun show sales is fair enough, but the reason it takes what it does to get a doctor’s appointment is a function of INSURANCE.

        Pay cash……especially the dollar figure needed to buy a AR-15……you’ll get seen just as fast.

  • ninguem

    Pam I didn’t know you did your internship at Temple University. You look like it’s your turn to cover the parking lot for change of shift.

    • PamelaWibleMD

      Hilarious and scary. And I’m still wondering who you are.

  • PamelaWibleMD

    I know there are many who disagree with the comparison above, but I must share one of the most beautiful emails I received after this piece was published (minus the photo) in the local newspaper:
    “Dear Dr. Wible – I spent many years as a reporter for the Los Angeles Times and a good deal of that time writing about the proliferation of guns and inevitable violence. Your piece on gun control in today’s Register-Guard is beautifully crafter, deftly ironic and, to any reasonable person, effectively argued . . .”

    • Texan

      Wible, no matter what you believe, the fact that you go out and work to fix what you see wrong is admirable. Even if I think half of it is wonkers you still actually try to make the world a better place and I think that’s important. We need more people who actually care about each other in deeds and not just words.

  • Rus Blackford

    Good article. Too bad everyone missed the point.

    • PamelaWibleMD

      Thank you Rus. Really appreciated your two sentences, Really. Thanks!

  • Enrique

    So you think it should be easier to prove you have a valide medical license than simply prove you aren’t crazy or a criminal? Seems like your problem is with medical board systems and quite irrelevant to gun owners.

    If this is the range of your critical thinking, no offense, but you should probably pick a state with friendlier malpractice laws. What you wrote here were not coherent thoughts and conclusions, but observations and emotions that you conflate with actual reasoning. (Ambulance_Driver does a good summary.) If you can’t tell the difference, can you really even begin to objectively and accurately diagnose a patient? I’m not trying to be mean; I’m worried about your patients and your career.

    Incidentally, if he had burned or blown up the children, what would you be doing? Hugging gasoline or a bag of manure, perhaps?

  • Albert Kirsch

    Doc, your headline is wrong for the article. Your article says it’s easier to buy a gun than to *become* a doctor. I have no problem with that; I don’t need an advanced degree to learn basic safety and shoot a deer. But the headline is right more generally: Many of us live in constant pain (including a dear friend of mine) and have no insurance and precious little cash and do not qualify for Medicaid. No damn doctor will see her. At the ER they give her painkillers and say “see an orthopedist”, who won’t. He is, after all, not in this business for his health. (Indeed, he’s supposed to be in it for *hers*.) Is it medically ethical to say “Pay up front or forget it” like some damn hooker? Would *you* see her?

  • John Henry

    It is not easier to get an assault weapon than it is to get a doctor. If I want to buy an “assault weapon,” I first must find a willing seller; most want lots of money for their products, not uncommonly several thousand dollars or more, if it is an example with collector value. Then I have to be screened by the BATFE and pay $200 for a special tax stamp. Then there are the usual screening requirements for the purchase of any firearm meaning an eight-day wait. Then I have to pay the dealer a transfer fee, which depending on the state, can be $50-$100. Only then can I have my “assault weapon.”

    If I want a doctor and am willing to pay cash (and not expecting some third party entity to pay my charges–same as with buying the firearm) I can go to the urgent care or call any number of doctors in my community and offer to pay cash on the spot. I am certain I will have a much easier time finding a doctor and that it will be much cheaper and more efficient a process than buying an “assault weapon.”

    BTW, the rifle pictured is not properly an “assault weapon.”

  • Rick Lundgren

    The NRA’s fabricated but escalating view of the Second Amendment was ridiculed by former U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger—a conservative appointed by President Richard Nixon—in a PBS Newshour interview in 1991, where he called it “one of the greatest pieces of fraud—I repeat the word ‘fraud’—on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.”

  • Codewizard

    Total bullshit. Stupid comparison.

  • Edwin Leap

    Ironically, the good doctor is holding a bolt-action rifle, not an ‘assault rifle’ by any definition. Yes there is a pistol grip and yes there is a magazine protruding out the bottom. It still isn’t a semi-automatic firearm. But why quibble about facts when you can call down emotion? Furthermore, the endless regulations for doctors are, in many cases, financial shakedowns that do not make physicians or the public any safer.

  • Natasha Deonarain, MD, MBA

    Pamela, thank you so much for this article. I tried to write one about the gladiator fight in the arena, alluding to the comments posted on blogs, while the real problem sits up in the stands clothed in gold, determining our fate. It’s amazing that no one has any solution to our problem. We just want to get bloody and fight in the area, eat our own kind, while Washington sits with bored faces, ready to turn their thumbs up or down. Blogs are a great way of coming together to look for solutions, but I see you face the same problem I do when putting yourself out there and standing up for yourself. Here’s to you, baby…keep marching for change! And let’s hope those voices below just fade away when the world comes crashing down around them because they never stood for anything that’s good in this world. PS – the blog was rejected, because it actually provide a concrete solution to our current situation in healthcare. But no one really wants to hear that. They just want to keep the blame, anger and rhetoric going, don’t they? Here’s my latest crapola-stirring slide presentation, for your viewing pleasure…

    PSS – I’m HOT on Linkedin! Join me…

  • f. lusu

    please get off your soap box! if you are so worried about unnecessary deaths, and you should be, then put your money where your mouth is and actually speak up about the problems in your profession. stick with what you know. inform the general public about the Fact that medical errors kill 10x the number of people than guns do. how about the deaths from hospital infections? what? not going to speak up about that? why aren’t you going to do that, dr.? i think that’s a fair question.

    how about just working hard within your profession to reduce the stigma in med schools towards students seeking therapy for depression. if starts at the ground level,and med students are encouraged to seek help, then it will carry over into their career and save some of those dr.s that might otherwise commit suicide. hopefully then, dr.s will recognize the need to refer more of their patients to a psychologist for therapy. you don’t need a gun to kill someone. stress skills, depression kills.

    • Hasan Iftikhar

      deaths from hospital infections are NOT caused by doctors. Doctors try hard to prevent hospital acquired infections, and they can always do a better job than they are already doing, but the risk is intrinsic to hospital care and not because of doctors

    • PamelaWibleMD

      Many medical students graduate med school with PTSD. Mental health issues obviously need to be addressed. I am working on this. . .

      • f. lusu

        getting past the weapon issue, i was very concerned when i listened to a med student say, that while it wasn’t exactly taboo for him to seek therapy, the stigma he felt made him quickly decide not to. i know i’m being very naive about this subject, but is there anyway the public could contact a med school and hope that issue is given one millisecond of consideration before they laugh and delete the email? do you think you could get an article published in a newspaper about dr suicide rates and what can be done about it? i think it might be possible now because it could be compared to the suicides of our soldiers, which is getting a lot of airtime.thanks

        • PamelaWibleMD

          YES! I have written about this before. Please see my blog:

          I have a lot of physician suicide articles. I give you permission to print, forward, and share widely. Many docs are in denial about this and so the more we shed light on the topic the better. We need physicians and patients to champion change in the way we train our healers. Abusing them is no way to create health care! Please feel free to email me privately and I am happy to share other ideas that would be effective.

  • f. lusu

    perhaps you misunderstood.i didn’t say,nor wish to imply, that they were the cause the hospital infections. i know that deaths from infections and medical errors can never be eliminated no matter what hospital protocols are followed. i have great respect for physicians, and nurses. they are not getting paid nearly enough. the long hours, loss of family time and stress can’t be changed, but perhaps the burnout and suicide stats could.

  • f. lusu

    sorry for your loss

  • William Strinden

    America is not even in the same ballpark when comparing incidents of murder with Europe and Asia in the past century. 20 million in Germany, 40 million by Stalin, 20 million in China, unknown in N Korea. That is why we need them. Disarming the good people is the precursor to tyrrany.

  • Craig McDow

    There are far greater deaths caused by medication errors in hospitals than people dying as a result of firearms. Doctors should be licensed in obviously a greater sense than gun owners.

  • Craig McDow

    People who perpetrate violence via guns rarely have any economic ‘price to pay’ for their stupidity and evil. Doctors have lots of money and it makes much better sense for the government to regulate (fees, licenses, etc etc) doctors than criminals. Follow the money doctor, follow the money.

  • Craig McDow

    Take your ‘scrubs’ off when you leave the OR.

  • GringoFusilero

    This article makes sense… So let’s make getting a doctor as easy as buying an object from a store. All the useless regulations in the medical field have only made our costs skyrocket without improving care. If someone wants to seek medical care from someone without a license, so be it. We shouldn’t be punishing either party. We need to quit trying to protect people from themselves and let them make their own decisions.

  • Andrew Leigh

    Doctors kill more people each year through medical mistakes then those killed by guns.

  • Kristy Johansen

    If the distribution of medicine had been left to market forces – as guns are – medicine would be as widely and effectively distributed among the masses at prices we can afford. But the good doctor enjoys her role in an increasingly monopolized delivery system where she is not accountable to cash-paying, discriminating shoppers as gun makers are, but beholden to the healthcare insurance providers and government resimbursement agencies who are her real clients. Had the good doctor been part of a market system, as gun makers are, she would only be as good as cash payers with options determine she is. Had entrance into her field not be controlled by a limited number of accrediting universities and practices protected by the AMA, in effect limiting services to a finite number of practioners, perhaps services would be as cheaply available and commonly distributed as guns are. There is nothing quite as sickening, ironically, as a doctor who enjoys a cozy salary within a protected monopoly while criticizing inanimate objects – and their makers – for the decisions people make with them. Suicidal doctors will find a way to “off” themselves without a gun, and homicidal maniacs deprived of them will go “middle eastern” and start to kill even more people with bombs than they ever dreamed of doing with a gun. In the meantime Doc, wanna sell that gun to me?

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  • Suzi Q 38

    I love your picture with your scubs and the rifle, Dr. Wible.
    I just don’t agree with you.

  • Fedup

    Lets get something straight here. The term “Assault Weapon” is a term some hollywood writer dreamed up to sell movies. It was never a word used in military references until after it started showing up in the movies. A military issue M16 does have three different selections on it: SAFE, SEMI, and BURST(3rounds). It does NOT have a fully automatic selection any more. It fires a 5.56mm round chosen by the military for its more humane treatment of the human body upon impact as apposed to the NATO 7.62mm round.

    It would take someone well versed in the operation of a semi- automatic weapon approximately 15-20 seconds longer to fire 3 10 round magazines than one 30 round magazine from an AR 15. So one with only 10 rounds is that much safer?

    The following is a list of requirements for legally obtaining a fully automatic weapon in the United States:
    1. You must be an American Citizen at least 21 years of age.
    2. You must be of sound mind (not crazy or mentally incompetent).
    3. You must not be an abuser of alcohol or illegal drugs.
    4. You must not have been convicted of any felonies
    5. You must pay a $200, one time, Federal Tax (also known as a Federal Transfer Tax or a Tax Stamp). Good ole Uncle Sam!
    6. You must complete what is called a BATF Form 4 and submit to the bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF).
    The application requires that you get a signature from your “Chief Law
    Enforcement Officer” stating that he or she has no knowledge that you
    intend to use the firearm, suppressor, or short barreled rifle for
    anything other than lawful uses.
    7. You will need to get fingerprinted and photographed and submit these with your BATF application.
    8. Generally, you must wait about 3 months after you have submitted
    everything before it gets approved. The FBI has to process everything,
    verify your identity and background, etc.
    Also it must be legal in your states to own an automatic weapon.

    Your claim that you can walk into a gun show and buy a gun and walk out the same day is false.

    The whole debate over gun control is not all bout mass killings and psychopathic killers on the loose. It is or should be about a balance of power. Our country was created with a series of checks and balances. The Congress, the Senate, presidential veto, congressional overrule of the veto. We put our trust in the political leaders of this country to look out for our best interest while we go about our daily live trying to earn a living. Over the years less honorable individuals have corrupted that system. Our government has grown to the point where we have no control as individuals anymore. Our voice can no longer be heard over the pontification of the politicians and the sewage the mainstream media pours on us.

    We have one weapon left in the attempt to take back our country. Our second amendment right to bare arms. Our fore fathers saw a need to prevent the powerful from taking our freedom again.

    If you allow the government to get rid of the second amandment, what is to stop them from taking away the first amendment, then the third…….. until there is nothing left.

    Whether you are willing to kill for your freedom or not. Don’t take that ability away from those that are.

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