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Research on Gun Violence Squelched

December 25, 2012

An article by two public health researchers provides an insight into why there is so little irrefutable evidence on the effects of guns in our society: it’s because in 1997 Congress pulled the plug on any and all research dealing with gun violence. And some states and government agencies have gone even further, preventing physicians from asking questions about the availability of weapons in the home of potential suicide victims. The end result?

Injury prevention research can have real and lasting effects. Over the last 20 years, the number of Americans dying in motor vehicle crashes has decreased by 31%.1 Deaths from fires and drowning have been reduced even more, by 38% and 52%, respectively.1 This progress was achieved without banning automobiles, swimming pools, or matches. Instead, it came from translating research findings into effective interventions.

But over that same time frame, no changes in the practices regarding the safe use of guns has gone into effect because it was explicitly banned by congress. And the consequences of guns in our homes is staggering:

Since Congress (banned research on the public health aspects of guns in homes) in 1997, at least 427 000 people have died of gunshot wounds in the United States, including more than 165 000 who were victims of homicide.1 To put these numbers in context, during the same time period, 4586 Americans lost their lives in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.10 

33 times as many people died of gun-related homicides as dies in combat in Afghanistan. Time for some changes in our thinking.

Categories: Uncategorized
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