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No development in U.S. healthcare over the last three decades has imperiled us more than the idea that we benefit from physician oversight of life events and circumstances that are not inherently medical. At its most intrusive, this process, called medicalization, creates a clinical conundrum out of the mere act of living and posits medical solutions for things (such as how to live a healthier lifestyle) that frequently benefit more from individual concentration and perseverance than professional intervention. We are thus bearing witness to tortuous reformation of what it means to be a physician in America: a formerly independent and autonomous profession is now our societal hall monitor.
Adam Goldstein, M.D., of North Carolina exemplifies the problem. His facile positioning of firearms as the new tobacco, coating the argument in a patina of medical benevolence, is testament to the profession’s creativity in dragging into its sphere things that do not belong there. There is, of course, no Constitutional right to smoke. But Dr. Goldstein doesn’t stop there. He wants national standards of licensure and professional behavior, especially regarding physicians and guns, akin to what is seen with commercial truckers. He also supports legal designation of all healthcare settings as “gun-free” zones, without a trace of irony about the fact that schools already occupy that space.