Sunday, December 16, 2012

Investigating the Link Between Gun Possession and Gun Assault

Much of the impetus for automobile safety in the late 50's and early 60's came from public health studies detailing and publicizing the carnage on the highways.  In 1959 Dr. C. Hunter Shelden wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association:
“The doors, seats, cushions, knobs, steering wheel and even the overhead structure are so poorly constructed from the safety standpoint that it is surprising anyone escapes from an automobile accident without serious injury.”
 Daniel Patrick Moynihan - a sociologist who had studied traffic safety while in the administration of Gov. Averill Harriman - in his first published article Epidemic on the Highways cited such studies to push to make cars safer. He combated the National Safety Council's safe driver approach with a safer cars campaign, as the Federal Highway Administration recounts in its online history.  Ralph Nader's Unsafe at Any Speed spurred popular calls for action.  The public health approach had an impact on how people talked about tort law.  And a young Yale law professor Guido Calabresi capsulized and theorized it in  The Cost of Accidents - recasting tort law as a way to enhance public safety.

Maybe the Newtown tragedy will help us to reduce the magical thinking of the many who suggest that more guns would save lives.  Epidemiologist Charles Branas and colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania in a 2009 study showed that gun possession increases by five your odds of getting shot (or shooting yourself). - gwc
Investigating the Link Between Gun Possession and Gun Assault:


Objectives. We investigated the possible relationship between being shot in an assault and possession of a gun at the time.
Methods. We enrolled 677 case participants that had been shot in an assault and 684 population-based control participants within Philadelphia, PA, from 2003 to 2006. We adjusted odds ratios for confounding variables.
Results. After adjustment, individuals in possession of a gun were 4.46 (P < .05) times more likely to be shot in an assault than those not in possession. Among gun assaults where the victim had at least some chance to resist, this adjusted odds ratio increased to 5.45 (P < .05).
Conclusions. On average, guns did not protect those who possessed them from being shot in an assault. Although successful defensive gun uses occur each year, the probability of success may be low for civilian gun users in urban areas. Such users should reconsider their possession of guns or, at least, understand that regular possession necessitates careful safety countermeasures

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