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May 1994

Guns, Common Sense, and Science

Arch Neurol. 1994;51(5):450. doi:10.1001/archneur.1994.00540170022010

I was stunned by Menken's response1 to two letters2,3 using scientific research to criticize his antigun editorial.4 The response amounted to a footnoted name-calling, combined with a sneering suggestion that the "dictates of common sense and everyday experience" are more valuable than "empirical evidence" and that scientific research that reaches conclusions contrary to intuitive assumptions are "so preposterous that only an educated person can believe them."

As it happens, it violates common sense to believe that polio and influenza can be prevented by injecting polio and influenza into a person, and that a broken leg can occasionally be mended by breaking the leg. To ordinary gun owners, it violates common sense to suggest that high levels of gun ownership are the problem when gun ownership is highest among middle-aged non-Hispanic whites living in suburbs, small cities, and rural areas, whereas the high and increasing levels of gun-related