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October 2, 1996

Firearm Design and Firearm Violence

Author Affiliations

American Shooting Sports Council Atlanta, Ga

JAMA. 1996;276(13):1035. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03540130033017

To the Editor.  —A product-oriented approach to firearm violence is fraught with pitfalls, as even Dr Wintemute admits,1 and may indeed result in unintended, counterproductive effects. The banning by policymakers of a product today because of its lethality or perceived prevalence in crime may well lead to the substitution of even more lethal weapons in the future. Therein lies one of the frailties of Dr Wintemute's product-oriented focus on firearm-related crime. Despite his self-effacing denial that he is not advocating any particular product-based policy agenda, the gist of his article is clear. Because in selected studies medium- to large-caliber semiautomatic pistols appear to be more prevalent in firearm-related homicides, policymakers might do well to consider banning them. What then are policymakers to do when large-caliber revolvers become the criminals' weapon of choice? If the vast majority of homicides occur in circumstances in which long guns could be substituted for