Home Social Issues The True Cost of Gun Ownership: Dr. Michael Davidson

The True Cost of Gun Ownership: Dr. Michael Davidson

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(Yeah, but, but, but…FREEDOM! And stuff. (deep sarcasm) – promoted by lowkell)

Lately I’ve seen a bunch of blog posts about the true cost of various things, such as the true cost of carbon, the true cost of commuting, the true cost of student loans, or the true cost of free parking in the city.  Usually, the gist of such articles is that if you understand the true cost of something, you might decide you don’t want to pay that cost, or that the people who engage in or profit from that activity should bear the costs. It is not infrequent that an entire industry will fight against exposure of the true cost of their product, precisely because they don’t want to be forced to shoulder the cost of their product.  Asbestos and cigarettes are good examples of those.

So lately, following the shooting murder of a prominent cardiac-thoracic surgeon, Dr. Michael Davidson, M.D., at Brigham and Womens Hospital in Boston, I’ve been wondering, what is the true cost of gun ownership?

Dr. Davidson, age 44, was gunned down in one of his own hospital’s examining rooms.  The shooter was a 54 year old accountant, who apparently was angry because Dr. Davidson operated on his mother, and his mother had complications after the surgery, supposedly due to some of the medications she was taking, and died. That happens sometimes after surgery; there is always the risk of a bad outcome, no matter what the doctors and nurses do.

Afterwards, one of Dr. Davidson’s peers said:

You all should be absolutely assured that Michael Davidson was one of the kindest, and the best physicians and men that ever walked on this earth.

People tend to exaggerate in eulogies, but in this case, I don’t think very much.  I met Dr. Davidson once, before he operated on my mother, as he reviewed her risks and options for heart surgery. You really couldn’t ask for anything more from a physician, than what he was.

The accountant-shooter was an apparently stable guy, who had a license for the handgun, and apparently there was nothing in his background that would have, or should have, prevented him from owning a handgun. Apparently he had owned the handgun for years, and used to keep it stored disassembled in his house, according to his brother.  I’m sure that when he bought the 10mm, he never dreamed that one day he would take the handgun into a hospital and murder one of the finest heart surgeons in the country.

Also, I wonder whether this accountant, who obviously didn’t really need this handgun if he kept it stored disassembled, with the parts in different places in his house, would still have kept it if he had to pay an annual registration fees and insurance to keep it.

Dr. Davidson’s case is not more tragic than Virginia Tech, or Newtown, or Aurora, but it is a lot easier to appreciate the costs when a prominent heart surgeon is gunned down in his prime.

But if you think about it, the same costs and consequences ripple out from every shooting death, and there are a lot of shooting deaths.

I don’t understand why automobiles have to be titled, registered annually, and insured continuously, but firearms do not.  The cost of owning a gun should reflect the true costs, not just the cost of the gun, ammunition, Hoppe’s gun cleaning oils, and shooting range fees.  

  • Quizzical

    Thanks, Lowell, for your help on this diary.

    I came across an editorial that provides a public health perspective.  The following passage makes an important observation about the political suppression of data collection on gun violence:

    Despite the clear evidence that guns pose a threat to health, the public health community has been unable to get traction as an effective voice on this issue. Unfortunately, instead of quality scholarship and policy efforts to map and respond to the risks of guns, we have seen the silencing of gun researchers, health practitioners, and policymakers intent on addressing these problems. Actions by Congress fueled by the National Rifle Association (NRA) in 1996 effectively defunded federal gun research, a still extant legacy, and to date, the CDC website lacks materials on prevention of gun-related injury or violence. While translatable lessons from successful public health campaigns on smoking, unintentional poisonings, and car safety abound, the political will necessary to implement and test them has been absent and under unremitting attack.

    http://www.bu.edu/sph/2015/02/