Can Doctors Determine Who Should Be Allowed to Carry a Concealed Gun?

The authors draw attention to the fact that since 2005 more than 150 people in Michigan with licenses to carry concealed weapons have committed suicide and in a five-year period in North Carolina 2,400 permit holders were convicted of crimes, including 900 drunk driving offenses and more than 200 felonies. This is supposed to demonstrate that doctors have no particular skill in assessing the competence of their patients to carry concealed weapons, which may well be the case (I rather suspect that it is), but these raw figures prove nothing very much. As is all too often the way, they provide numerators which shock but no denominators which soothe or reassure. Nor is there any standard of comparison: it might be, for example (though I rather doubt it), that people with licenses in Michigan are less likely to commit suicide than an equivalent number of people of similar demographic characteristics without licenses. The connection between gun licenses and suicide might not be a causative one; and even if it were, it would still need to be shown that the type of people who have a concealed gun license and commit suicide are more likely to commit crimes with guns than they would otherwise be. For it is specifically gun crime that licensing is supposed to control, not suicide, drunken driving, or all felonies as such.

The authors fear that doctors who make assessments will be held legally responsible for the acts of those whom they have assessed. I suspect that they are right. I don’t want to sound paranoid, but the fact is that when things go wrong it is best (by which I mean most lucrative for lawyers) to blame the doctor. And no, I don’t want to carry a concealed weapon myself.



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Image courtesy shutterstock / Dmitry Vinogradov