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January 8, 2021

Three Interventions to Address the Other Pandemic—Firearm Injury and Death

Author Affiliations
  • 1The Firearm Injury and Policy Research Program, Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center, University of Washington, Seattle
  • 2Departments of Pediatrics and Epidemiology, University of Washington, Seattle
  • 3School of Law, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa
JAMA. 2021;325(4):343-344. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.24206

While infections, hospitalizations, and deaths from the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic overshadowed nearly all other health issues in the US in 2020, the problem of firearm injuries and deaths has continued unabated. Indeed, firearm sales increased during the pandemic, driven in part by a perceived need for self-protection amid concerns of breakdown in law and order.1 The latest reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that more than 39 000 people died from firearm injuries in the US in 2018, including 24 432 by gun suicide.2 While a new administration is likely to devote more attention to firearm-related deaths and injuries, there are limits to what policies could be implemented at the federal level given the makeup of the new Congress and the Supreme Court.

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    1 Comment for this article
    Firearm Injury Epidemiology in the USA
    Gary Ordog, MD, DABMT, DABEM | County of Los Angeles, Department of Health Services, (retired)
    Thank you for your interesting article. The US has only approximately 3% of the world's population but approximately 10% of the world's firearm fatalities. That is without any military conflict occurring here. I say, anecdotally, after studying gunshot wounds for the past 40 years, and just having completed a study involving interviewing thousands of victims, shootists, friends and relatives of gunshot deceased, that I am amazed at how easy it is to obtain a firearm, "off the street," "knowing the right person," and "for the right price." How many people said that they could easily obtain a firearm, "within a few minutes," is astounding. This is despite having lost a "friend or relative" due to a gunshot wound. Hopefully, this gives people something to consider in your 'equation.' Thank you and stay safe. Gary Joseph Ordog, MD.