Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), signed a secret contract in 2006 to do research for Philip Morris Altria Group, the nation’s largest tobacco company. The VCU scientists were given money to study how to identify early warning signs of pulmonary disease, and how to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus drained into rivers from processing tobacco leaves. What is shocking is the extremely restrictive terms that the university must follow. Some were:
A. Professors are not allowed to publish the results of the studies with out tobacco company’s permission
B. Professors are not allowed to talk about the results without the tobacco companies permission
C. All patent and other intellectual property rights go to the tobacco company, not the university or its professors
D. The contract also includes a longer than usual time (180 days) for Philip Morris Altria Group to review and grant/deny permission to VCU for any possible publications by the researchers. VCU’s own guidelines state that any industry reviews take no more than 90 days.
More shocking is that the VCU even admits that it knew that many of the provisions violated the university’s guidelines for industry-sponsored research. About 15 public health and medical schools no longer accept donations from the tobacco industry, and many major research universities continue to do so only if guaranteed independence to carry out the research and publish the results. Universities should not take money from tobacco companies because of the public health impact of smoking and the tobacco industry’s past misuse of scientific research.
Don’t be fooled by the weak stories of the pro-gun groups are insensitively pushing the day after the Virginia Tech shootings. The pro-gun advocates, such as Larry Pratt, state: “The shootings at Virginia Tech highlight the need to allow weapons on campus and at businesses because gun carriers will protect themselves and other students by shooting the perpetrators of gun violence.”
Pro-gun argument #1: As evidence for their claim pro-gun advocates states that a killer was stopped at the Appalachian School of Law when two students were able to go off campus to their vehicles and get their guns which they used to subdue the killer.
Cold hard truth #1: In the Appalachian School of Law incident, the killer stopped shooting because he ran out of ammo, not because he was shot by other gun toting students. Also the students that finally did subdue the killer were trained off-duty policemen who grabbed not only their guns, but bulletproof vests and handcuffs from their cars.
Pro-gun argument #2: Another argument the pro gun advocates are pushing is “All the school shootings that have ended abruptly in the last ten years were stopped because a law-abiding citizen — a potential victim — had a gun.”
Cold hard truth #2: Let’s review the cold hard facts (as stated by David Hemenway Director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center):
1. Moses Lake [Washington], a 14-year-old honors student, opens fire in algebra class. He stopped when he was tackled by a teacher.
2. West Paducah, Ky., a 14-year-old kills three students and wounds five others at a prayer group. He drops the pistol when he’s approached by a principal and another student. No gun involved with the principal or the other student.
3. The 1999 Columbine High School killers took their own lives with the guns they’d used to kill 25 others, hours before a SWAT team stormed the building.
Hemenway said statistics show that in general, firearms don’t mix well with colleges, known for combustible elements like heavy drinking and romantic complications. “People get drunk, people get angry, they’re going to use their guns.” He concluds that “We do know that where there’s more guns, there’s lots more death. There’s more homicides, more suicides, more gun death.”
Pro-gun argument #3: What about examples where allowing guns on campus seems to work? “Isn’t it interesting that Utah and Oregon are the only two states that allows faculty to carry guns on campus,” Pratt said in his statement, “[and] you haven’t read about any school or university shootings in Utah or Oregon?”
Cold hard truth #3: School shootings are rare occurrences to begin with, thus, the probability of seeing an event in these states is naturally reduced. Second the population of Utah and Oregon are relatively low, so the probability of seeing an event in these states is naturally low (less people in a state, less chance an event will occur). Another rebuttal, just because an event has not occurred in the past does not guarantee it will not happen in the future. One final rebuttal to pro-gun argument #3: Massachusetts, has strict gun control laws and like Utah and Oregon there are no known school shootings.
Pro-gun argument #4: The shootings at Virginia Tech highlights the need to allow weapons on campus and at businesses because gun carriers will protect themselves and other students by shooting the perpetrators of gun violence.
Cold hard truth #4: The probability of innocent students getting caught in the crossfire of the killer and the armed untrained student may actually increase fatalities. Simply put, the more flying bullets (regardless of who pulled the trigger) the higher the probability of someone getting hit. In conclusion, when you boil the arguments down the pro-gun advocates are saying the answer to gun violence is more guns….the cold hard truth is that if noone had guns, there would be no gun fatalities!
The following chart displays a comparison of price percentage changes for the five day time period from April 11 to April 17, 2007. The VT shootings occurred on April 16th. Please click to enlarge.
Please note that the blue line is Smith & Wesson gun manufacture, the red line is Sturm, Ruger & Company gun manufacture, the yellow line is the S&P500 index.
The following chart displays a comparison of price percentage changes for the approximately seven year time period from Aug 2006 to April 17, 2007. Please click to enlarge.
In the short term (1.5 days after the VT shootings) gun manufactures experienced a decreasing trend. Over the long run, Smith & Wesson, the gun company, has fared extremely well in the stock market with an 1254.34% increase. The stock of Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc.the only other publicly listed U.S. gun manufacturer, has more closely mirrored the ups and downs of the market. However, it too ended this time period with an overall 33.03% increase. Interestingly, I could not find the stock information for gun manufactures during the The Columbine High School massacre which occurred on April 20 1999. Anyone have this information?
The National Rifle Association (NRA) had a website that (regardless of when it was originally posted) insensitively stated on April 16th 2007 (the day of the VT shooting) “Today is one of the most important days of the year for gun owners. The start of the NRA Annual Meetings is both a celebration of freedom and a rally for the Second Amendment, but it’s also a show of force by gun owners to the enemies of freedom everywhere.” The NRA should have taken down those comments shortly after the event occurred.
I am not sure why the NRA would be so inconsiderate and callous to have that statement on the front page of their website while the nation is grieving the death of over 30 students. I wonder what the 30+ American families think about the NRA’s insensitive celebration tonight?
Click the thumbnail for a large snapshot of today’s (April 16th 2007 at 8pm) NRA website below (I added the red text, arrow and circle above and below for emphasis):
When you click on the LaPierre link you come to these interesting comments (Click the thumbnail for a large snapshot):
In light of the shootings at a dorm and a classroom building at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia this post will also review a Harvard School of Public Health Injury Control Research Center published in 2002 appropriately titled “Guns and gun threats at college”. (please email email@example.com for a copy). The authors surveyed more then 10,000 undergraduate students attending 119 4-year colleges about gun possession and gun threats. Approximately 4.3% reported having a working firearm at college. Of the respondents, 1.6% reported being threatened with a gun while at school. The authors state “Students are more likely to have a firearm at college and to be threatened with a gun while at college if they are male, live off campus, binge drink, engage in risky and aggressive behavior after drinking, and attend institutions in regions of the United States where household firearm prevalence is high.” The authors also report that carrying firearms for protection is associated with being threatened with a gun.
Good luck and take care,