FIREARM violence has reached epidemic proportions in this country and is now a public health emergency, accounting for one fifth of all injury deaths in the United States and second only to motor vehicles as a cause of fatal injury.1 In addition, for every fatal injury, an estimated seven nonfatal injuries occur.2 Further, firearm-related injuries imposed an estimated $19 billion economic burden on the United States in 1990 in addition to the direct health care costs.3 If firearm violence continues to increase, it is expected that by the year 2003, the number of deaths from firearms will surpass the number of deaths caused by motor vehicles, and firearms will become this country's leading cause of injury-related death.4
The burden of firearm violence is borne to a considerable degree by our country's most vulnerable population—its young people. Homicide is the leading cause of death for young black
Adler KP, Barondess JA, Cohen JJ, et al. Firearm Violence and Public Health: Limiting the Availability of Guns. JAMA. 1994;271(16):1281–1283. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03510400067034
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