By On July 10th, 2008

Guns and Health

The Supreme Court’s decision which struck down a ban on handgun ownership in Washington, D.C. flies in face of epidemiological evidence that guns are associated with injury and death. The matter before the Court was decided in a 5-to-4 decision and the decision was related to a constitutional standard.Clearly some of the Supreme Court justices had concerns in this case, too. Lets look to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who have been examining gun related injuries and deaths for some time. In 2005 there were 30,000 deaths and 70,000 non fatal injuries. About 25% of the non fatal injuries and 10% of the deaths occurred in children and adolescents. It is a known fact that access to a gun increases the likelihood of completion of a suicidal act. We are not many months past the tragedy in Virginia were many individuals were killed and others seriously wounded by a mentally ill individual before he turned his weapon on himself. TheĀ  student in Virginia was able to acquire weapons even with a mental health history.

The Supreme Court’s decision puts us into an unfortunate and risky epidemiological experiment. Access to guns needs to be regulated. There are far too many individuals who will come to the attention of medical and mental health professionals as a result of poorly defined limits on guns. Gun enthusiasts can buy an AR-15 scope mount on Amazon for accuracy. We see these individuals as far more than a statistic. They are family, friends, neighbors and people from our community. The issue is one of allowing cities and states to control access by restricting ownership. Think of what a 50% reduction in deaths and injuries would be.

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