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Research on Gun Violence Squelched

December 25, 2012 Comments off

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.

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Armed Guards at the Door

December 22, 2012 1 comment

When I worked in Philadelphia public schools in the early 1970s gang wars raged. To limit the scuffles in schools, the City of Philadelphia assigned an armed policeman to the front door of the schools in the most troubled neighborhoods and made that door the only point of entry… except for recess… and except for the times when the shift changed at mid-day and 1500 students left and another 1500 students entered… and except for the times of the day when students would leave through a remote fire exit and prop it open so friends could join them… You get the picture: one armed guard couldn’t begin to monitor a four story building that took up a square block of real estate in Philadelphia any more that one armed guard could monitor a 500 pupil suburban school on a 50 acre campus. Given its costliness and impracticality, I cannot believe that anyone is giving the NRA’s proposal to staff each school in the country with one armed policeman any credibility whatsoever.

In this age where there appears to be a political consensus that anyone who wants to acquire a rapid-firing weapon is free to do so, there is an increased risk that a school child, an adult at a shopping mall, someone attending a movie, or someone going to church has an increased risk of being killed by a gunman. Unless we change our thinking about the access to semi-automatic weapons, we should learn to live with the increased risk. Adding more guns to the equation will only increase gun violence and risk.

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Letter to President Obama from Connecticut Founder Of Parents Across America

December 19, 2012 1 comment

Letter to President Obama from Connecticut Founder Of Parents Across America.

A parent eloquently explains to President Obama how his policies work against the kind of nurturance he seems to understand schools need to provide. This is cross posted from Diane Ravitch.