Will Health Care Reform Regulate Guns?
By Ken Hanson, Esq.
Buckeye Firearms Association is a single issue, non-partisan PAC concerned with gun rights. As such, the debate on health care reform occurring across the U.S. is not something that would be within our normal sphere of coverage. However, my good friend Chad Baus posted a story a few days ago highlighting how the Centers for Disease Control has begun researching gun violence and the impact of gun violence on health care costs. This immediately set off alarm bells in my head as the pieces fell into place. Why, you ask?
Health care reform is a brilliant way to regulate guns without violating the Second Amendment.
As an attorney, part of my job is risk management – sit around and think big thoughts on how things could go wrong, and then plan accordingly. (Some of my less charitable friends describe it as "being paid to think of ways to screw things up.")
Health care reform, which seems completely innocuous to gun rights at first blush, is a Trojan Horse. Of that, there can be no doubt. The only real question is whether our enemies will choose to use it as such. Given the string of court and legislative defeats the anti-gun groups have suffered, is there any doubt whether the Brady Bunch will pass up an opportunity to regulate guns in this oblique manner?
Chad's article pointed to a Washington Times editorial taking the CDC to task for circumventing congressional orders to abstain from gun control "research." The original reasoning behind this "research" ban was that the CDC would be using tax dollars to advance a gun control agenda, and the taxpayers rightly put an end to these shenanigans. Now, under President Obama, the CDC is defying this ban by researching "health care costs" and how guns impact health insurance and health care services. If any reader is in doubt as to what the results of this "research" will be, you might as well stop reading now.
So, sometime in the near future, a tax-payer funded study will show that gunshot wounds take up a tremendous amount of medical resources, almost all of which goes unreimbursed, because the victims are uninsured. The study, of course, will fail to mention that the majority of this care goes to criminal/gang elements injured during illegal activities. I will readily concede that the Crips, Bloods, Triad, Mongols and the Mexican Mafia have woefully deficient employee benefit plans (no 401K, dental, paid vacation etc) but is that really a basis for national health insurance policy?
Why should gun owners care that this "research result" will show such an impact on health care costs?
Insurance premiums are calculated, in part, based upon your risk group. If you smoke, your premiums are higher and/or it is harder to get coverage. Why? Cigarette smoking demonstrably increases your health care costs over the long term. Have diabetes? Ditto. High blood pressure and cholesterol? Get out your wallet.
So now, armed with a "study" showing that the presence of a gun greatly increases health care costs, gun owners are now considered a high risk group and the insurance companies have Science! to back up that claim. "Owning a gun is no different than having cancer..." "No sir, we aren't violating your civil rights. You may still own whatever guns you wish, you just are going to pay at-risk rates rather than preferred rates."
I assure the reader that this scenario is not far-fetched or fanciful, the mechanism is already in place and is capable of operating exactly as I have outlined. The only question is whether the antis will have the political will to use it in such a manner, and to what extent. (i.e would they try to divide us by "finding" that ownership of a $5,000.00 trap gun has no impact on healthcare costs, but ownership of a handgun does and ownership of an ugly black rifle drives the costs right through the roof.)
Here is a preview of the new health insurance application forms:
Name, address, age, gender, height, weight, prior medical conditions, do you smoke, do you own guns, if so how many and what kind....
Then there is the whole issue of de facto gun registration, since this information will now be on your wonderful, portable healthcare chart that is all residing on a computer someplace. Don't forget the new taxes on guns and ammo to help provide insurance for those poor Crips, Bloods, Triad, Mongols and Mexican Mafia members who find themselves suffering from uninsured gunshot wounds incurred during a drug deal gone wrong . The anti-gun possibilities are limited only by the imagination.
Please don't delude yourself into thinking that this would only be part of any "public option" insurance plan. The private insurance companies are going to be in direct competition with any of the pre-existing or new government insurance plans, so if the public plans get an "upcharge" for gun ownership you know the private ones are going to demand this extra money, too. After all, they have Science! to provide the justification for the higher premiums.
These are not paranoid delusions or ramblings, just possibilities that are there for the taking should the political muscle be flexed to do so.
So what do gun owners need to do? We need to be calling our "Congress Critters" and demand, at a minimum, two things. (If you are just outright opposed to any of the health care reform going on, simply add the above objections to the pile of objections you already have when you call in, and skip over making these demands.)
First, any health care reform bill must be absolutely, affirmatively firearm neutral. The law must explicitly state that no insurer, public or private, may use ownership or use of guns as a basis for underwriting or benefit decisions.
Second, any health care reform bill needs to explicitly deny insurance benefit payments for care provided to anyone who is harmed during the commission of a violent felony, and allow hospitals/doctors to choose to refuse treatment to these same people if they feel they can ethically do so. They may ethically feel they have to treat these people, but you and I should not be subsidizing medical care to Johnny Crackhead when he finds himself shot during a robbery, nor should we be subsidizing someone's ethics. It is time these criminals start bearing the consequence of their actions and allow natural selection to work its magic.
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Ken Hanson is a gun rights attorney in Ohio who serves as the Legislative Chair for Buckeye Firearms Association. He is the attorney of record for Buckeye Firearms Foundation, which filed an amicus brief in the Heller case. In 2008, the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) awarded him with its Defender of Justice Award. He is the author of The Ohio Guide to Firearm Laws, a certified firearms instructor and holds a Type 01 Federal Firearms License.