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November 9, 1994

Firearm Violence and Public Health

Author Affiliations

Mountain View, Calif

JAMA. 1994;272(18):1407-1408. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03520180030021

To the Editor.  —The Commentary by the New York Academy of Medicine panel1 is seriously flawed as public health policy and yet another example of the fact that a medical degree does not a criminologist or policy analyst make.The article completely ignored the vast criminological research literature on the subject, which generally concludes that the gun control measures proposed by the panel have failed and, even worse, may actually have led to more innocent victims.2Rational public policy balances benefits and costs. In ignoring or dismissing the extensive criminological literature on the subject, the panel failed to explicitly consider the benefits conferred by private firearms ownership, which are potentially large. For example, research during the past decade suggests that between 30 and 75 lives may be saved with privately owned guns for each life taken with one.3,4 Instead, the panel's one-sided "costs only" approach to firearms

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