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June 12, 1996

Firearms and Fatalities

Author Affiliations

University of Kentucky College of Medicine Lexington
Dayton, Ohio

JAMA. 1996;275(22):1723-1724. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03530460027015

To the Editor.  —The work of Dr Hargarten and colleagues1 points to the significance of firearm availability as a critical public health concern. The availability of firearms and the corresponding implications for homicide and suicide become of even greater consequence when noting the prevalence of firearms in the general population, the manner in which guns are stored, and attitudes toward guns, particularly by youth.In a statewide survey with 1301 adult (aged >18 years) respondents we conducted in 1993 in Kentucky, 63% of homes contained firearms.2 As high as this prevalence is, more concerning is the 75% household prevalence of firearms we found in surveys in 1993 and 1994 of 1014 students in an urban, a suburban, and a rural high school in Kentucky.2 These numbers can be compared with the 65% household firearm prevalence among suicide cases and 41% among control subjects reported in the study