Arthur L. Kellermann, MD, MPH; Frederick P. Rivara, MD, MPH
Journal of the American Medical Association - December 21, 2012
"Injury prevention research can have real and lasting effects. Over the last 20 years, the number of Americans dying in motor vehicle crashes has decreased by 31%.1Deaths from fires and drowning have been reduced even more, by 38% and 52%, respectively.1This progress was achieved without banning automobiles, swimming pools, or matches. Instead, it came from translating research findings into effective interventions.
Given the chance, could researchers achieve similar progress with firearm violence? It will not be possible to find out unless Congress rescinds its moratorium on firearm injury prevention research. Since Congress took this action in 1997, at least 427 000 people have died of gunshot wounds in the United States, including more than 165 000 who were victims of homicide.1 To put these numbers in context, during the same time period, 4586 Americans lost their lives in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.10
The United States has long relied on public health science to improve the safety, health, and lives of its citizens. Perhaps the same straightforward, problem-solving approach that worked well in other circumstances can help the nation meet the challenge of firearm violence. Otherwise, the heartache that the nation and perhaps the world is feeling over the senseless gun violence in Newtown will likely be repeated, again and again."