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April 27, 1994

Firearm Violence and Public Health: Limiting the Availability of Guns

Author Affiliations

Dean, New York Medical College Valhalla, NY; President, The New York Academy of Medicine; Dean, College of Medicine, SUNY Health Sciences Center at Stony Brook; Dean, New York University School of Medicine Chairman, Board of Trustees, The New York Academy of Medicine; President, Montefiore Medical Center Bronx, NY; President, St Lukes-Roosevelt Hospital Center New York, NY; Commissioner, New York City Department of Health; Dean, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, City University of New York; Executive Director, Office of Public Health, The New York Academy of Medicine; Dean, Cornell University Medical School New York, NY; President, Beth Israel Medical Center New York, NY; Dean, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons New York, NY; Dean, Albert Einstein College of Medicine Bronx, NY; Dean, Columbia University School of Public Health New York, NY; President, The Mount Sinai Medical Center New York, NY; Interim President, College of Medicine SUNY Health Sciences Center at Brooklyn; President, The New York Hospital; President and Chief Executive Officer, Presbyterian Hospital New York, NY; President and Chief Executive Officer, St Vincent's Hospital and Medical Center of New York

JAMA. 1994;271(16):1281-1283. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03510400067034

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