AJC Reporter (Questions): Hello — This is Craig Schneider with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution [AJC]. I am writing a story on the controversy surrounding gun-related research, and I would greatly appreciate if you would give me a call.
Dr. Miguel Faria (Answers): Hi Craig, I received your questions and have arranged them in a question and answer format for convenience.
Reporter’s Question #1: People such as Mark Rosenberg say that the NRA has intimidated the CDC and other groups to the point where they do virtually no research on gun-related violence. What would you like to say about that characterization?
Dr. Faria's Answer: I think that characterization is absolutely wrong. I was one of several critics, among them Drs Timothy Wheeler and William Waters IV, and criminologist Don B. Kates, who testified before a Congressional Committee in Washington, DC, in 1996. We testified that much of the gun violence research was based on politicized, result-oriented research with preordained conclusions. In other words, it was mostly political junk science. Congress then passed legislation prohibiting taxpayer money from being used for "gun control" research and lobbying purposes by public health officials. It was not the NRA. It was the U.S. Congress that made that prohibition.
If you care to read my papers and those of other investigators, such as David Kopel, Edgar Suter, M.D., Timothy Wheeler, M.D., and criminologists Don B. Kates, Gary Kleck, PhD, and John Lott, PhD., whom I cite in my writings, you will find that I am not the only scholar to decry the shoddy "research" that was done by public health researchers on “gun violence.” I have nothing but praise for the work public health researchers have conducted in the fields of infectious and contagious diseases, but not for the politicized, gun control research they conducted for decades.
Let me just also add that Dr. Mark Rosenberg, then Director of the CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC) exemplified the attitude and bias of many officials in the public health establishment when in 1994 he told The Washington Post: "We need to revolutionize the way we look at guns, like what we did with cigarettes. Now it [sic] is dirty, deadly, and banned."
Reporter’s Question #2: You were the former editor of the Journal of the Medical Association of Georgia, correct? What years did you serve? You believe these researchers were biased in their approach, correct? Could you comment a bit on that?
Dr. Faria’s Answer: Yes, I was and I served between 1993 and 1995. The AMA was pushing for gun control for public relations purposes and only wanted to publish articles that concluded that guns were dangerous and that civilians had no reason to have them. As editor of the Journal of MAG I wanted to and did publish BOTH sides of the gun control debate. I think that stance put pressure on the Medical Association of Georgia (MAG) because I insisted in this balanced approach. I also received flak from the AJC, and I was forced to resign to prevent a schism in MAG as I had many supporters. I received a certificate of appreciation from MAG for my work as editor.
I think I have already commented on the bias issue, but let me just say that as a neurosurgeon who spent incalculable hours in the middle of the night treating neurological victims of gunshot wounds, I deplore the high level of violence, particularly the rampant crime in our inner cities — but we must have the moral courage to pursue the truth and find viable solutions through the use of objective, unbiased, sound, scholarly research. Public health researchers have an obligation to write their conclusions based on objective data and scientific information rather than on ideology, emotionalism, political expediency, or budgetary considerations (funding pressure). I think public health researchers writing on “guns and violence” failed in their duty to carry out objective research and were driven more by ideology than science. For over three decades, public health researchers failed in their duty to do this.
Reporter’s Question #3: These researchers say the NRA is against virtually all research on these issues. Do you believe that?
Dr. Faria’s Answer: I cannot speak for the NRA. But they have a point based on what I answered in your previous questions. I will say that the publication censorship is definitely in the other direction. It is very difficult to get published the type of sociologic and criminologic studies demonstrating the beneficial aspects of firearms in the medical or public health literature. They will not be accepted for publication in the medical literature because the conclusions are contrary to those preordained by the public health and medical establishment.
Reporter’s Question #4: Have you had any relationship with the NRA?
Dr. Faria’s Answer: I am not a member of the NRA. I have never received any money or anything from the NRA. But I have been asked to give radio interviews recently based on a couple of articles that I had published. I have been critical of the NRA, when I felt I needed to be, for example in the issue of the NRA seeking exemption in campaign finance reform in exchange for supporting it (perhaps that is the reason that it has been only recently NRA staffers have interviewed me after 20 years!).
Reporter’s Question #5: When you say that these CDC studies were flawed, what do you mean? How did you discount their results? Did you do any study of your own?
Dr. Faria’s Answer: I have written at length about the many flaws others and I have found in the "gun control research" conducted by public health researchers. It is beyond the scope of this interview to cover the many flaws. You are welcome to read about them in the articles I sent you before. Here are two studies that may be of interest: Statistical Malpractice 'Firearm Availability' and Violence (Part I): Politics or Science? and Statistical Malpractice 'Firearm Availability' and Violence (Part II): Poverty, Education and other Socioeconomic Factors.
Suffice to say, that the work of gun control researchers in public health had a proclivity toward reaching preordained conclusions, results-oriented research that was tainted, and based on what can only be characterized as junk science. What was always the preordained conclusion? That guns were bad had no benefits, that guns and bullets were pathogens that needed to be eradicated, or at least severely restricted from the civilian population. I was a member of the Injury Research Grant Review Committee of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) during 2002-2005, and I have written about this from the inside as well as from the outside. I’m also a former member of the CDC Grant Review Committee (2002-2005) that decided the scientific merit of grants submitted for funding for injury prevention and control.
As to my professional publications: I have written over 200 medical, scientific and professional articles and editorials published in the medical literature. Sixty-nine of these articles are currently listed in PubMed under Faria MA Jr. or under Faria MA at:
Reporter’s Question #6: For identification purposes, you live where? And you are a retired professor of neurosurgery who has studied gun-related violence, correct?
Dr. Faria’s Answer: I live in ___ Georgia. I was a Clinical Professor of Surgery (Neurosurgery, ret.) and Adjunct Professor of Medical History (ret.) Mercer University School of Medicine. I am currently Associate Editor-in-Chief and a World Affairs Editor of Surgical Neurology International (SNI) a peer-review, open access, online journal of neurosurgery and neuroscience.
I hope all this is helpful,
Miguel A. Faria, Jr., M.D. Clinical Professor of Surgery (Neurosurgery, ret.) and Adjunct Professor of Medical History (ret.) Mercer University School of Medicine. Associate Editor in Chief and World Affairs Editor of Surgical Neurology International (SNI), and an Ex-member of the Injury Research Grant Review Committee of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 2002-05; Former Editor-in-Chief of the Medical Sentinel (1996-2002), Editor Emeritus; Author, Vandals at the Gates of Medicine (1995); Medical Warrior: Fighting Corporate Socialized Medicine (1997); and Cuba in Revolution — Escape From a Lost Paradise (2002). Website: HaciendaPublishing.com.
Conclusion: Thanks again for all your time and help. Craig Schneider, Reporter, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, December 18, 2012.
Read Craig Schneider's completed article entitled CDC: Politics affected gun violence research published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on December 19, 2012.
The interview was conducted December 18, 2012