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October 11, 2000

Would Prevention of Gun Carrying Reduce US Homicide Rates?

Author Affiliations

Stephen J.LurieMD, PhD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthorPhil B.FontanarosaMD, Executive Deputy EditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 2000;284(14):1788-1789. doi:10.1001/jama.284.14.1783

To the Editor: The implications of Dr Sherman's Editorial,1 which discusses a "quasi-experimental" study of gun violence in Colombia, are extremely disturbing. Villaveces and colleagues2 describe police tactics that include traffic stops, checkpoints, inspection of bars and clubs, and searching of patrons at police discretion. Sherman notes that "although the intervention described . . . may seem highly intrusive, the measured level of intervention was actually quite low by US standards." Such "police state" tactics do not seem "quite low" to those who value our constitutional liberties. Sherman also notes that the effectiveness of gun law enforcement may be limited by "those states allowing people with felony arrests but not convictions to carry concealed weapons, despite the evidence of their increased risk for violent and gun-related crimes." It is a fundamental principle of US jurisprudence that citizens' rights are lost on conviction for a crime, not on being accused.