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Posted: 8/22/2001 4:18:52 AM EDT
Gun Owners Lash Out at 'Self-righteous Doctors' Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2001 A new "gun safety" campaign, launched by Johns Hopkins Children's Center is "misguided" and "aimed at demonizing guns," according to a spokesman for Gun Owners of America. The campaign, "Asking Saves Kids" (ASK), was introduced at a news conference Monday in Baltimore. Developed by Johns Hopkins Children's Center, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Maryland Attorney General's Office, it will urge parents, before sending their children over to play at a neighbor's house, to ask the other parents whether they keep a gun in the house. Pediatricians from Johns Hopkins will take the opportunity during child wellness visits to suggest questions that parents should ask and give advice about how to go about asking those questions. "This is not about gun control. It's about gun safety," said Holly Hamilton, associate director of public affairs at Johns Hopkins Children's Center. "It's about prevention. As pediatricians, our doctors work to prevent accidents." Monday's news conference was held on the third anniversary of the death of 13-year-old John Price, who was accidentally shot and killed by an 11-year-old friend. According to a statement released by Children's Center, "John was visiting at the boy's home and the children found the gun in an unlocked dresser drawer." Erich Pratt, director of communications for Gun Owners of America (GOA), said parents have a right to ask any questions they like. However, "what we have a problem with is these self-righteous doctors suggesting to their patients that these are the kinds of questions they need to be asking, when in reality, guns save lives 7,000 times a day." It is also hypocritical, Pratt insisted, "for these doctors to be focusing on guns when guns accidentally kill less than 200 times a year and yet doctors accidentally kill 98,000 times a year, almost triple the total number of gun deaths in a year." The ASK campaign will give parents tips on how to broach the sensitive topic of guns, advising them to ask about firearms at the same time questions are asked about animals in the house or how much television the children will watch. Parents shouldn't be confrontational when asking other parents questions but should be willing to "offer them this fact: over 40 percent of homes with children have a gun and many of these guns are left unlocked and loaded," according to the ASK campaign literature. "One of our pediatricians has even done a survey ... and he found that 95 percent of recent medical school graduates feel it is their job to discuss gun safety ... with the patient families because 90 percent of them feel their patients are at risk of gun-related injuries," Hamilton said, adding that pediatricians at Johns Hopkins also talk with parents about the use of bike helmets, seat belts and car seats. "Even though cars kill more often than guns do, there is no campaign out there to ban cars. Obviously, there is a campaign out there to ban firearms or restrict them in any one of several thousand different ways," Pratt said. "I think a lot of this is misguided and it's aimed at demonizing guns because you notice that they're not asking about kitchen cleaners, they're not asking, 'Are the car keys locked up or are the kitchen cleaners locked up or are the doors to the bathtub locked up,' when any of those items kills kids more often than guns do," he added.
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