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June 12, 1996

Firearms and Fatalities

Author Affiliations

University of Iowa Hospital Iowa City

JAMA. 1996;275(22):1724. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03530460027016

To the Editor.  —The highly charged political debate over firearms and violence in America continues. As noted by Teret,1 there is little agreement about specific actions necessary to reduce violence in America, but there appears to be some agreement that more data are needed. The Fatal Accident Reporting System (FARS) has been proposed as a model for data collection.2 During this controversial debate, it is especially important for health care professionals to discuss what can reasonably be concluded from proposed data collection and to carefully consider such data prior to making recommendations. Since most automobile-related deaths are unintentional and most firearm-related deaths are intentional, it is likely that the 2 situations will be different.The interesting data in the article by Dr Hargarten and colleagues3 fall short of supporting some of the authors' conclusions. Table 2 clearly shows that the most common firearm caliber associated with gun