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Books, Journals, New Media
August 1, 2001

Gun Violence: Gun Violence: The Real Costs

Author Affiliations

Harriet S.MeyerMD, Contributing EditorDavid H.MorseMS, Journal Review EditorRobertHoganMD, adviser for new media


Not Available

by Philip J. Cook and Jens Ludwig, 242 pp, with illus, $25, ISBN 0-19-513793-0, New York, NY, Oxford University Press. 2000.

JAMA. 2001;286(5):605-607. doi:10.1001/jama.286.5.605-JBK0801-3-1

In this smart and provocative book, economists Philip J. Cook and Jens Ludwig propose that gun violence costs Americans on the order of $100 billion a year. Theirs is the first comprehensive effort to put a price tag on gun assaults, homicides, and suicides, which may come as some surprise given the amount of attention devoted to criminal violence and firearms in the United States. But we should not be surprised at how little we know about gun violence, because we continue to treat it, with telling exceptions such as warfare, as the product of evil. And we are loath to quantify evil. We do have a "crime rate," but almost no one could define what it is, including most criminologists. Drive by almost any bank, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average can be seen flashing in sequence with the time of day. When was the last time the crime rate was posted outside a police station?