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AMA`s Secret Conference On Guns

Friday, December 21, 2001

When the American Medical Association`s (AMA) president, Dr. Richard Corlin, launched his presidency in June 2001, his inaugural address included the pronouncement that the nation`s most well-known doctor`s group should openly admit to political activism in the firearm debate. NRA reported on this "new" agenda (AMA has actually been supporting attacks on the Second Amendment for years) both in this publication (see NRA-ILA FAX Alert Vol. 8, No. 25), as well as in the August 2001 issue of America`s 1st Freedom. And NRA members responded, inundating both Corlin and the AMA with objections to this aggressive, anti-gun agenda. Apparently, Dr. Corlin took notice.

In the December 17 issue of the American Medical News, Corlin revealed in an opinion piece that he had chaired a conference in November he described as including "the whole spectrum of organizations involved with the issue of gun violence," including "representatives of advocacy groups, both pro- and anti-gun." But the accuracy of this statement is highly debatable: NRA—the largest organization dedicated to promoting the safe, responsible ownership of firearms, public safety, and law and order—was neither present, nor, does it appear, were we invited. In fact, we may simply have to take Dr. Corlin`s word that America`s approximately 65 million safe, responsible gun owners were well represented. When we asked the AMA who participated in this conference, we were told that such a list is not currently being made public. We may never really know who attended the meeting, who was invited, or what was actually discussed, as the AMA could choose to not make any specific information available to the general public.

Such secrecy, as well as the anti-gun history of Corlin and the AMA, raises serious doubt about the veracity of every claim made in Corlin`s December 17 piece regarding this conference, including: the assertion that all participants agreed that physicians and the AMA should be involved in the debate over "gun control," that the AMA is "the one national organization" capable of coordinating efforts to reduce firearm-related fatalities, and that the AMA has the support of members of the pro-gun community. Corlin even makes the claim that one of the "pro-gun participants" stated, "If people outside of this room knew how the AMA conducted the meeting, it would go a long way to changing the perception of the AMA." Unconfirmed reports, however, indicate the "quote" is either a fabrication, or a case of extremely selective, and perhaps intentionally deceptive, editing, or a combination of the two.

But it is not necessary to have attended the meeting to expose Corlin as either intentionally deceptive, grossly incompetent, or a combination of these qualities. His article claims that he did not attack the Second Amendment in his inaugural address—where he referred to the Second Amendment as "a smokescreen." He also claims that his inaugural address comports with the policies the AMA has passed regarding firearms, that these policies do not represent attacks on the Second Amendment, and that AMA`s policies do not "call for a ban on guns of any kind." In fact, several firearm-related AMA policy statements do mention supporting bans, while other policies include supporting legislation that would "restrict the sale and private ownership" of affordable handguns and certain semi-automatic firearms. Another specifically supports allowing any municipality to pass any restrictions on firearms it wants, including, one must presume, bans such as those that currently exist in crime-riddled cities such as Chicago and Washington, D.C. Plus, the AMA is an organizational member of the HELP Network, whose goal is an America where it is "socially unacceptable for private citizens to have handguns."

But to Corlin`s credit, he does invite people to comment on the AMA`s decision to publicly take on issues that fall outside its purview. We are all concerned over crime, especially when it leads to law-abiding citizens being injured by their criminal attackers—regardless of whether the attacks involve a firearm, knife, club, or other tool used by criminals. But the debate over effective means to address crime should be left to those with expertise. And if the AMA would like to see fewer accidents that involve firearms, it should promote proven safety programs such as those developed by NRA.

NRA`s commitment to promoting firearm safety is unsurpassed. We have upwards of 38,000 NRA Certified Instructors who reach approximately 700,000 people every year with instruction on how to handle firearms safely and responsibly. And our award-winning Eddie Eagle GunSafe® Program has taught more than 17 million children to avoid firearms when they are not under close, adult supervision. Our safety programs have helped lead to the lowest rate and number of firearms-related fatal accidents in U.S. history, and we will continue to work to drive those numbers even lower.

If you wish to take Dr. Corlin up on his invitation to submit your comments, you can do so by writing to: Dr. Richard Corlin, President, American Medical Association, 1301 20th St., Santa Monica, CA 90404, or you can send e-mail to: richard_corlin@ama-assn.org.

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.