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December 6, 2000

Impact of the Brady Act on Homicide and Suicide Rates

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2000;284(21):2718-2721. doi:10.1001/jama.284.21.2717

To the Editor: According to Drs Ludwig and Cook,1 the Brady Act should reduce suicide rates the most among those with the lowest gun ownership rates and the highest suicide rates. Thus, the authors predicted that after passage of the act suicide rates should decline most rapidly among people older than 54 years. However, polling data show that gun ownership rates are at least as high for this age group as for others.2-4 Furthermore, disaggregating the authors' age categories yields results that contradict this hypothesis. The data reveal that the reduced incidence of firearm suicides for persons older than 54 years is primarily affected by the change for the group aged 55 to 64 years; however, this subcategory has the lowest suicide rate for those older than 54 years. The different age groups experienced apparently random increases and decreases in firearm suicides after enactment of the law: the groups aged 35 to 44 years, 45 to 54 years, and older than age 85 years, for instance, all show increases in firearm suicide rates.