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July 4, 1977

Handguns and HokumA Methodological Problem

JAMA. 1977;238(1):43-45. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03280010043019

IN The Journal, Browning1 has called on physicians to assume a position that the control of homicide is part of the field of public health, and may be accomplished by controlling the ownership of handguns. The present communication is a reply to Dr Browning's article, and is not intended as a comprehensive review of the vast literature in a multidisciplinary field.

During the past 15 years, newspapers, radio, television, articles, editorials, and political speeches have claimed that an important factor in homicide and other violent crimes has been the ownership of handguns by private citizens. Such articles and speeches have advocated controls from severe restriction to outright prohibition.

Criminologists, social scientists, legislators, law enforcement personnel, and firearms experts have studied and written extensively on the subject. The entry of physicians into this area of study is highly desirable if they bring in the high standards that they apply to