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February 3, 1989

Epidemiologists Aim at New Target: Health Risk of Handgun Proliferation

JAMA. 1989;261(5):675-676. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03420050017004

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"HOMICIDE is not a disease, but it is a public health condition whose primary cause is possession of guns—and it could be considered an epidemic because of the high incidence in certain populations," recently said Paul Stolley, MD, president of the American College of Epidemiology, announcing that group's first policy statement calling for research on the effects of handgun control.

"Nonsense!" says Paul H. Blackman, PhD, research coordinator of the National Rifle Association (NRA). "Epidemics are things that are catching, and gun ownership and use aren't catching. Calling something an epidemic doesn't make it an epidemic. That's typical of gun control people's shoddy thinking."

The battle between those who favor and those who abhor regulation of gun ownership and use was joined years ago, but it's been heating up lately as medical authorities have begun to examine the relationship of guns and injury from the viewpoint of public health rather