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June 14, 1995

Taking Aim at Handgun Violence

JAMA. 1995;273(22):1739-1740. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03520460021022

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IMAGINE a preventable illness that kills 40000 and harms another 240 000 each year in the United States. Suppose that its direct and indirect costs surpass $14 billion annually, 80% of which is picked up by taxpayers. Imagine, too, that more than one fourth of those who succumb are just 15 to 24 years old.

Few in the medical community would hesitate to screen and counsel patients at risk for such an illness. Yet many physicians do not discuss firearm injury with their patients, despite this enormous toll that it takes. John P. May, MD, recognized the gap a few years ago during his residency at Cook County Hospital in Chicago, Ill.

After having volunteered in a soup kitchen at a nearby Chicago housing project, May says that during his residency he "started to recognize the impact of violence on the community. In the trauma ward, I knew some of

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