A timorous culture

Over 20 years ago, when I first start practicing in Washington State, I get a letter from the state. It frightens me. It says that there is a complaint to the state from a patient and that I am being investigated. I think, “What did I do?” The letter says that they will notify me when they are done investigating. I am not allowed to inquire about it until they are done.

I worry, then shrug and go on working.

Eventually I get a letter from the state saying that the investigation is complete and has been dismissed. Now I can request information. I do.

The complaint is that on a yearly exam, I had asked if a patient had guns in the house. Since too many US citizens die by gun suicide and children can find guns and accidentally kill themselves or others, I was taught to counsel regarding guns. If a person has guns in the house I am to counsel them to keep the gun locked up with the ammunition locked up separately.

I was charged in the complaint with trying to find out how many guns this person has and “reporting it to the government”. I thought, that is ridiculous, but it did change my practice. Since there are paranoid timorous gun owners, I no longer asked if they had guns. Instead I said, “If you have guns in the house, as a safety measure, keep them locked up with the ammunition locked up separately.” We are supposed to counsel people to keep addictive drugs that can overdose and kill people locked up too.

I get three replies to the gun counseling. 1. “No guns!” 2. “I am a policeman (or hunter or retired veteran or gun collector) and all guns are secured at all times.” 3. Silence. The silent ones clearly have guns and do not lock them up. Truly I have had people tell me that they sleep with a loaded gun under the pillow. Really? That is our fear based timorous violent culture. We are terrified of….. someone. People on drugs, criminals, immigrants, people of another ethnicity, invaders, alien lizards in human disguise. Whatever.

I don’t have guns. I do have a fairly high level Tai Kwan Do belt, but my main home defense is that I am a packrat. Anyone trying to sneak into my house at night would trip over a cat or cat toy or the cardboard boxes in the kitchen that Elwha loves to sleep in. My house is seriously dangerous. I need to removed the stuff on the stairs by the time I turn 65 so that when they counsel me about fall risks at my medicare wellness visit, I can say that my stairs are clear.

Well, I do have a pop gun, loaded with a cork on a string. Also an Archie McPhee potato gun. Don’t shoot it in the house because those little bits of potato are hard to find. We have a 2 inch plastic ray gun that makes great sound effects and oddly has worked for years. I have a wooden katana and various instruments of garden destruction which could be deadly. I also have a lot of beach rocks and fossils, also fairly deadly, and other things. I’d rather not use any of these ever. Ok, I chased the 4 point buck out of the front yard with the baseball bat twice because he’d jumped the back fence and was eating my roses, but he’s allowed the run of the back yard. I was really mad at him.

We have to get past the fear based timorous culture, because it is making people crazy. Who are you most afraid of? In high school my daughter states, “Well, young white males with guns are the ones most likely to come shoot us, so that is who we should be afraid of.” That’s a sad, sad statement about the US culture.


For the Ragtag Daily Prompt: timorous.

Hummingbirds are not timorous at all! They guard the feeder and seem to enjoy chasing other hummingbirds and bigger birds away and aren’t afraid of me either!

11 thoughts on “A timorous culture

  1. Keeping people afraid is a way to gain and retain power over them. At this point — meaning this moment — I’m very tired of this place. OH well!!

  2. Paula Light says:

    Itโ€™s crazy here and getting worse. Daily mass shootings, and according to the gun nuts we need MORE guns everywhere. Yeah, that will helpโ€ฆ ๐Ÿ˜ข

  3. Weird…In my most recent post, I edited out the part about the guy who slept with a gun under his pillow. I, too, once got a letter – that I was being sued for my care of a terminally-ill patient. I saw him once while covering for a co-worker on vacation. His survivors sued everyone in the hospital whose name they could find in the medical record. I never found out what they thought we did wrong (he had an unsurvivable condition) but was quickly informed that I had been dismissed from the suit. I was told to keep that dismissal letter.

  4. eklastic says:

    Interesting. As a non-US citizen the attitude of Americans towards guns is completely foreign to me.

    • drkottaway says:

      What attitude did you grow up around?

      • eklastic says:

        The only guns we had were toys (for carnival) and the ones at shooting galleries at the yearly town festival. Guns belonged to policemen, soldiers, hunters and criminals (which we saw on tv). Registered weapons need to be kept safe, usually not at home but on secured premises; if at home they have to be locked away and this is, I have read, being checked. In Germany each year between 50 and 100 people die of gunshot wounds, more than 10,000 in the US (the US has approximately 4x as many inhabitants as Germany). 2/3 of the weapons used in Germany in gunshots incidents are properly registered weapons, btw.

        • drkottaway says:

          That seems awfully sane compared to here. I keep thinking that as a country, the US is rather like a hormonal inexperienced teenager who is very boastful and often terrified.

          • eklastic says:

            We have our share of unbalanced people, too. They just don’t have guns at such easy disposable.

          • drkottaway says:

            Which is sensible.

          • eklastic says:

            And with all our controls – it’s not perfect. Yesterday evening we had a mass shooting in Hamburg with 7 people dead (the shooter amongst them). He attacked a Jehova’s Witness kingdom hall. A motive is yet not clear but seems to be somebody who was shunned by the congregation (completely different can of worms).

          • drkottaway says:

            I am so sorry.

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