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April 11, 1977

Handguns and Homicide

JAMA. 1977;237(15):1558. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03270420026005

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To the Editor.—  Although the author proposed that we "formulate" the subject matter of handguns and homicide into a "public health problem," it remains in reality a political issue, and one so basic as to be dealt with explicitly in our Bill of Rights. An informed opinion regarding it calls for no special medical knowledge, and the opinion polls among doctors cited by Dr Browning may well reflect nothing more than the effects of one-sided political propaganda.The author also failed to present readers with both sides of the issues involved. The alarming rate increases presented actually referred to homicides of all types, including stabbings, beatings, and bludgeonings. Omitted was the fact that the percentage of homicides in which handguns were the chosen weapon has remained about the same (approximately 50%) year after year.The author quoted the 1973 FBI Uniform Crime Report in order to show a national homicide