Gun Research 2013 — An Interview with Dr. Miguel A. Faria by Craig Schneider, Reporter, Atlanta Journal Constitution

Journal/Website: 
Atlanta Journal Constitution
Article Type: 
Interview
Published Date: 
Sunday, January 20, 2013

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

Recommended Additional Reading

1. America, guns, and freedom. Part I: A recapitulation of liberty

2. America, guns, and freedom. Part II: An international perspective

3. Shooting rampages, mental health, and the sensationalization of violence

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Comments on this post

Informative interview.

This interview with Dr. Faria was very informative, especially for people like me who was not aware of this controversy and "the other side of the coin" information. I truly hope politicians read this and become informed before they pass more laws and raise more taxes!

Regards,
Venize Draper
Fashion Designer at Trend Styles, New York, USA.

Useful information!

This interview is loaded with useful information that I may use when I debate gun control. Thanks for the ammunition!

Disgusted!

I am disgusted in the direction this country has taken. We Americans have forgotten our history, our Constitution, our values, more and more joining in the government plantation for "benefits"!

I noticed it didn't take long

I noticed it didn't take long for the Number one question to be raised and it made it all the way to #4~ "Are you a member of the NRA"? And we both know they wanted to hear 'yes'.

I am so in awe of this country right now I am in pure ""disgust"".
I'm disgusted at the fact Americans have forgotten they are Americans!

I picked up on an adage I saw on another article here you wrote and that's where we are right now in our country IMO. At the corner of "Damn if we do and Damn if we don't"!

The left in this country is OFF The Charts! And it's hard for me to believe inside my soul that 53% of the population actually wants what we are being served.

That 53% are nothing more than Zombies;to me!
And I'm afraid of what this country has become.
What in Gods name do you do when you realize you're walking among the Living Dead? 53% of them!

When our weapons are taken; then it will be something else and something else..Until there are No More "Something else"!
I'm sick of it. And I keep praying that at least 10% of that 53% will also get sick of it.

It can happen here!

Hi uneed,
I fully agree. I spoke at the Kiwanis club the day before yesterday. My topic was "Escaping totalitarianism and reaching freedom" but I modified it to: "And it can happen here," exactly because we in America are in the stage of national decay "from apathy to dependency."

Yes it can happen here because nearly 50% of the idle and dependent population are riding the wagon the other half, the thrifty and hard-working, is pulling.

Yes it can happen here because a dictatorship doesn't have to be one man or an oligarchy. It can be tyranny of the majority led by one demagogue or a social(list) democratic party!

I received the following Note:

As you know, in 1887 Alexander Tytler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh, had this to say about the fall of the Athenian Republic some 2,000 years prior:

"A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse over loose fiscal policy, (which is) always followed by a dictatorship."

"The average age of the world's greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:

From bondage to spiritual faith;
From spiritual faith to great courage;
From courage to liberty;
From liberty to abundance;
From abundance to complacency;
From complacency to apathy;
From apathy to dependence;
From dependence back into bondage."

The Obituary follows: Born 1776, Died 2013

It doesn't hurt to read this several times.Professor Joseph Olson of Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota, points out some interesting facts concerning the last Presidential election:

Number of States won by: Obama: 19 Romney: 29 Square miles of land won by: Obama: 580,000 Romney: 2,427,000

Population of counties won by: Obama: 127 million Romney: 143 million Murder rate per 100,000 residents in counties won by: Obama: 13.2 Romney: 2.1

Professor Olson adds: "In aggregate, the map of the territory Romney won was mostly the land owned by the taxpaying citizens of the country.

Obama territory mostly encompassed those citizens living in low income tenements and living off various forms of government welfare..."

Olson believes the United States is now somewhere between the "complacency and apathy" phase of Professor Tyler's definition of democracy, with some forty percent of the nation's population already having reached the "governmental dependency" phase.

[I believe we are in the "apathy to dependence" — MAF]

Olson ends: "If Congress grants amnesty and citizenship to twenty million illegals - and they vote - then we can say goodbye to the USA in fewer than five years."

Your Wisdom needed!

Your Wisdom is deeply missed on MT for whatever that is worth to You! I do so enjoy educating myself with your knowledge base.

I agree with all you've stated and I would actually like to post that obituary 'facts' on differences in Obama and Romney on MT if that meets with your approval. You can certainly let me know.

As always thank you for all you do.
I'm certain the Kiwanis welcomed you.

Informative interview

I found this is an informative interview on the issue of gun research that helps me make up my mind on the subject. I thank you for your efforts in helping us understand the issue from a different perspective we read in the media.

CDC gun research

Briefly: The new controversy on the CDC resumption of gun violence research

Dr Faria and other critics felt the NCIPC's program on gun violence was involved in gun politics and biased against gun owners, promoting "politicized, result-oriented research."

At the Committee hearing in March 1996 Dr. Faria testified, " I have yet to see a published report that has been funded by the NCIPC in which the benefits of firearms in the hands of law-abiding citizens have been published even though they are there... if you don't conclude that guns are bad and that they need to be eradicated because they are a 'public heath menace,' they are not published."(1)(2)

In May 1996 the CDC announced it was withdrawing research proposals on firearm violence. Congress imposed restrictions which remained in place until 2013.(3)

A chance was seen by Public health officials to renew gun violence research after the tragic shooting rampage in Connecticut, and the AJC published a seminal article on the subject based on the interview published here under this heading.(4)

The Congressional restrictions remained in place until January 2013, when President Obama, directly in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, issued a Presidential Memorandum directing the CDC to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.

Shortly after, despite the Congressional restriction still in place, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius released a statement stating her department was “committed to re-engaging gun violence research” at CDC and NIH. Retired Congressman Jay Dickey (R-Ark) who was instrumental in passing these restrictions in 1996 has stated that gun research is now needed, both the benefits and disadvantages of gun ownership but still Congressional authorization is needed before the CDC resumes CDC gun violence research. (5)(6)(7)

Additional References

1) Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations for 1997: Testimony of members of Congress and other interested individuals and organizations. Hearings Before a House Subcommittee of the Committee on Appropriations, House of Representatives, One Hundred Fourth Congress, Second Session (March 6, 1996). Hearing Volume, Part 7. pp. 935–970.

2) Carter G L. Guns in American Society: an Encyclopedia of History, Politics, Culture, and the Law. Second Edition, ABC-CLIO, LLC. Santa Barbara, California. 2012, p.781.

3) Schneider C and Suggs E. CDC: Politics affected gun violence research. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, December 19, 2012

4) AR-13: Prohibition on Use of CDC Funds for Certain Gun Control Activities in DHS–CDC: Funding Opportunity Announcements, Additional Requirements

The Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act specifies that: "None of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control."

Anti-Lobbying Act requirements prohibit lobbying Congress with appropriated Federal monies. Specifically, this Act prohibits the use of Federal funds for direct or indirect communications intended or designed to influence a member of Congress with regard to specific Federal legislation. This prohibition includes the funding and assistance of public grassroots campaigns intended or designed to influence members of Congress with regard to specific legislation or appropriation by Congress.

In addition to the restrictions in the Anti-Lobbying Act, CDC interprets the language in the CDC's Appropriations Act to mean that CDC's funds may not be spent on political action or other activities designed to affect the passage of specific Federal, State, or local legislation intended to restrict or control the purchase or use of firearms.

http://www.cdc.gov/od/pgo/funding/grants/additional_req.shtm#ar13

5). Wheeler, T. Public Health Gun Control: A Brief History — Part II. DRGO News January 18, 2013 http://www.drgo.us/?p=285

6) Aleccia J. Obama plan eases freeze on CDC gun violence research. NBC News. January 15, 2013.

7) Turner L. Jay Dickey on Obama's order to encourage Research on gun violence. Arkansas Business LP. January 17, 2013