GUNS NEJM editorial on GUN SAFETY

GUNS NEJM editorial on GUN SAFETY - 1...

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http://www.vahv.org/NEJM-ed.html September 17, 1998 -- Volume 339, Number 12 Editorials Regulation of Firearms In the United States, the rates of injury and death due to firearms and the rate of crimes committed with firearms are far higher than those in any other industrialized nation. Every hour, guns are used to kill four people and to commit 120 crimes in our country. Perhaps the most appropriate international comparisons are among the United States and other developed "frontier" countries where English is spoken: Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. These four nations have similar cultures, and all have histories that include the violent displacement of indigenous populations. They also have similar rates of property crime and violence. ( 1 , 2 ) What distinguishes the United States is its high rate of lethal violence, most of which involves guns. Gun-related deaths among children and adolescents are a particular problem in the United States. Among developed nations, three quarters of all murders of children under the age of 14 years occur in this country. More than half of children younger than 14 who commit suicide are Americans, even though the rate of suicide by methods other than firearms among children here is similar to that in other countries. ( 3 ) Canada, Australia, and New Zealand all have many guns (though not nearly as many handguns as does the United States). The key difference is that these countries do a much better job than we do of keeping guns out of the wrong hands. Their experience shows that when there are reasonable restrictions, relatively few outlaws can possess or use guns. Success in the United States in reducing motor vehicle injuries -- we now have one of the lowest rates of death per vehicle-mile in the world -- provides insight into methods that could reduce firearm injuries. In the 1950s, efforts to reduce motor vehicle injuries focused on the driver. Commonly presented statistical data seemed to show that almost all automobile crashes were caused by error on the driver's part. The greatest attention was thus paid to education and enforcement: training motorists to drive better and punishing them for committing safety violations. Despite these well-intentioned efforts, further success in reducing motor vehicle injuries had to await a more comprehensive approach. Eventually, injury-control experts recognized that to increase the safety of driving, it would be more cost
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GUNS NEJM editorial on GUN SAFETY - 1...

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