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April 1993

A Deceptive Contrivance

Author Affiliations

5201 Norris Canyon Rd Suite 140 San Ramon, CA 94583

Arch Neurol. 1993;50(4):345-346. doi:10.1001/archneur.1993.00540040007004

To the Editor.  —Menken correctly observed that "There are more than 20 000 laws in the United States that deal with the sale, distribution, and use of firearms, without convincing evidence of effectiveness."1 Unfortunately, he followed that observation by incorrectly stating that guns are rarely used in self-protection. Citing Kassirer's editorial2 published in the New England Journal of Medicine as his authority, Menken also repeated the familiar fallacy that guns are 40 times more likely to kill the homeowner than a criminal.To understand the fallacies, one must understand their lineage. Kassirer's editorial cited Kellerman and Reay3 as authority for the purported risk-benefit ratio. That article was fatally flawed in its prejudicially truncated data and its non-sequitur logic. That article has had sufficient post mortems4,5 such that, if the subject were anything other than gun prohibition, it would have been laid to rest and never resurrected.