Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Do Gun Restrictions Help Reduce Gun Deaths? [news release]

From the 8 March 2016 Columbia University news release

Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 6.10.27 AM

“Astudy by researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health looked at the associations between firearm-related laws and firearm homicides, suicides, and unintentional injuries and deaths.  The paper is the first to explore the evidence from around the world on gun laws and gun violence to determine whether gun restrictions help reduce gun deaths. While the research did not conclusively prove that restrictions, or relaxation of laws, reduce gun deaths, the results indicate that gun violence tended to decline after countries passed new restrictions on gun purchasing and ownership. Findings are published online in the February issue of Epidemiologic Reviews.

The researchers reviewed the findings from 130 studies conducted from 1950 to 2014 in 10 countries that had overhauled their gun law, mostly in the developed world, including the U.S., Australia, and Austria. A few studies looked at gun laws in middle-income countries, including Brazil, Colombia and South Africa.

“In most countries, we saw evidence of reduction in the firearm death rates after the enactment of firearm legislation” said Julian Santaella-Tenorio, a doctoral student in Epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School and the study’s lead author.

Santaella-Tenorio and his Columbia co-authors, Professors Magdalena Cerdá and Sandro Galea, also found evidence that specific laws, such as background checks and rules on storage, reduced specific kinds of gun deaths including intimate partner homicides and firearm unintentional deaths in children, respectively.

By comparison, laws in place about carrying concealed weapons or standing your ground either had no effect on gun deaths or increased gun violence. “While our review is not proof that gun laws reduce violence, and also taking into account that for some countries there are very few papers examining firearm laws effects, we did see evidence showing an association between firearm laws and a decline in firearm homicide and suicide rates,” noted Santaella-Tenorio.

“Since we limited our review to changes in firearm policy and not ownership in general or other types of policy, the debate should not end here.”

– See more at: https://www.mailman.columbia.edu/public-health-now/news/do-gun-restrictions-help-reduce-gun-deaths#sthash.EpAJImmS.dpuf

 

March 9, 2016 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Straight, No Chaser: The Drama of Gunshot Wounds and a Nation at War with Itself

A challenging provocative post from a physician

Excerpts from the 25 August 2014 blog item at JeffreySterlingMD.com

Somewhere in the midst of reconciling the parts of me that are physician, public health professional and African-American male, I realized that I don’t have the luxury to simply review the medical aspects of gunshot wounds. As an African-American, I have lived my entire life learning and having it reinforced that I and others of my kind are a misunderstanding or inappropriate interaction away from becoming a statistic. As a physician I get to treat, and as a public health professional I get to report and fashion broad solutions to various challenges, but as an African-American, I get to live a certain reality that for me began when my father died from a gunshot wound when I was a small child.

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We live in a country that is without debate the most violent country on earth, both outside of and within all parts of our borders. From the individual’s rights to bear militia levels of arms to the police’s increasing position as military units, from the contradictions of allowing both “Open Carry” and “Stand Your Ground,” we are spiraling toward an inevitable conclusion.

You want to participate in a challenge? Stop being so deficient of attention about what’s happening before our eyes, and think and ask what the inevitable conclusion of all of this is going to be. Regardless of your political persuasion, there are issues to be addressed.

….

Consider the following facts from the Children’s Defense fund,

  • approximately 2900 children and teens died from guns in the US in both 2008 and 2009. (Does anyone think the numbers have declined since then?) That’s one child or teen every 3 hours. That’s eight children or teens every day. That’s 55 children or teens every week for two years. What is our country’s response to this? What are you specifically doing to contribute to a solution to this?
  • Young Blacks are being exterminated by gunshot wounds in this country.

……

Read the entire post here

August 26, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 2 Comments

[Research article] Racism, Gun Ownership and Gun Control: Biased Attitudes in US Whites May Influence Policy Decisions

From the Open Access article at the Public Library of Science (PloS)

Abstract

Objective

Racism is related to policies preferences and behaviors that adversely affect blacks and appear related to a fear of blacks (e.g., increased policing, death penalty). This study examined whether racism is also related to gun ownership and opposition to gun controls in US whites.

Method

The most recent data from the American National Election Study, a large representative US sample, was used to test relationships between racism, gun ownership, and opposition to gun control in US whites. Explanatory variables known to be related to gun ownership and gun control opposition (i.e., age, gender, education, income, conservatism, anti-government sentiment, southern vs. other states, political identification) were entered in logistic regression models, along with measures of racism, and the stereotype of blacks as violent. Outcome variables included; having a gun in the home, opposition to bans on handguns in the home, support for permits to carry concealed handguns.

Results

After accounting for all explanatory variables, logistic regressions found that for each 1 point increase in symbolic racism there was a 50% increase in the odds of having a gun at home. After also accounting for having a gun in the home, there was still a 28% increase in support for permits to carry concealed handguns, for each one point increase in symbolic racism. The relationship between symbolic racism and opposition to banning handguns in the home (OR1.27 CI 1.03,1.58) was reduced to non-significant after accounting for having a gun in the home (OR1.17 CI.94,1.46), which likely represents self-interest in retaining property (guns).

Conclusions

Symbolic racism was related to having a gun in the home and opposition to gun control policies in US whites. The findings help explain US whites’ paradoxical attitudes towards gun ownership and gun control. Such attitudes may adversely influence US gun control policy debates and decisions.

 

Editor: Brock Bastian, University of Queensland, Australia

 

Received: May 3, 2013; Accepted: September 7, 2013; Published: October 31, 2013

Copyright: © 2013 O’Brien et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Funding: These authors have no support or funding to report.

Competing interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist

 

 

November 1, 2013 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Psychology | , , , , | 1 Comment

[Reblog] Gun Safety: A Public Health Perspective

Trigger lock fitted to the trigger of a revolver

Trigger lock fitted to the trigger of a revolver (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gun Safety: A Public Health Perspective.

“statistics show that the likelihood of accidentally being shot and killed in a home with guns is much higher than in one without, or with the guns locked”

“people may claim they need assault rifles in case the government comes after them; if the government does come after them, however, it will use weapons that will overwhelm anything that a private citizen would own.”

From the 30 October 2013 blog item at charlettelobueno

The recent outbreak of mass shootings, including one that occurred on October 21 at a junior high school in Sparks, Nevada, has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun ownership and Americans’ right to bear arms. How can incidents such as the recent one in Nevada, and the shooting that happened last December at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., be prevented in a country where the right to own a gun is constitutionally guaranteed?

The first step is addressing gun safety from a public health standpoint, using a multi-pronged approach, similar to that used to reduce the number of car accident fatalities, said Dariush Mozaffarian, an associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. Such an approach involves making guns safer and educating gun owners and establishing strict licensing standards and conducting thorough background checks. Public awareness campaigns about gun safety and more careful consideration of how gun violence is portrayed in popular media such as video games, movies and TV are also necessary.

A multifaceted approach is required because neither guns nor humans exist in a vacuum. A relationship exists between a human and a gun, much the way it exists between a human and a car, said Don Ihde, distinguished professor of philosophy at Stony Brook University. Ihde explained that humans plus technology, and the range of interactions that can occur between them, determine what patterns of behavior will occur.

The article continues under the headings of Safer Guns, Educating Owners, and Raising Awareness

Here is an audio clip from her interview with Dr David Hemenway:

https://soundcloud.com/clobuono13/charlottelobuonodavidhemenwa

October 31, 2013 Posted by | Public Health, Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

The Arithmetic of Gun Control

From the 26 July 2013 Science Daily article

Aiming to quell heated national debate about gun control with factual answers, two UC Irvine mathematicians have designed parameters to measure how to best prevent both one-on-one killings and mass shootings in the United States. Their paper appears Friday in the journal PLOS ONE.

“It’s time to bring a scientific framework to this problem,” said lead author Dominik Wodarz, a mathematical biologist who works on disease and evolutionary dynamics. His co-author and wife, Natalia Komarova, a mathematician who studies biomedical and social trends, added: “Can we design a rational way to argue about guns?”

Both were appalled not just by the December shooting deaths of 20 youngsters and eight adults in Newtown, Conn., but also by the bitterly emotional dispute over weapons that erupted anew. They decided to put their professional expertise to work.

“This debate cannot be settled satisfactorily by verbal arguments alone, since these are often driven by opinion and lack a solid scientific backing,” the authors write. “What is under debate is essentially an epidemiological problem: How do different gun control strategies affect the rate at which people become killed by attackers, and how can this rate be minimized?”

The duo reviewed available data stretching as far back as World War I, then drew up equations to compute whether policies ranging from a total firearm ban to “arm everyone” increase or decrease homicides. After running the numbers, they found that in more common domestic and one-on-one crimes, reduced legal gun availability — if properly enforced — is likelier to lower deaths. But in rare mass shootings, armed citizens might save lives if sufficiently trained to avoid accidentally shooting fleeing bystanders.

Read entire article here

 

July 27, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Safety, statistics | | Leave a comment

[Free Webcast] Evidence for Violence Prevention Across the Lifespan and Around the World-A Workshop

Found this while “surfing” the Institute of Medicine Web page (the primary source for an article in one of my RSS feeds).
I think I share a concern with gun violence with many of you dear readers.There has to be a better way to prevent gun violence than simply arming more folks. For example, a school system to the west of my hometown of Toledo, OH believes arming its janitors will curb violence. (Montpelier schools OKs armed janitors***). My gut reaction? If I had children in the school I would  pull them out. Homeschool them if there were no other ways to educate them. And if the teachers were armed? Same reaction.

Meanwhile I’m going to be participating in a [local] Community Committee Against Gun Violence (MoveOn.org). For the past several years I’ve been very concerned about gun violence. Time to start to do something…hopefully not too late.

Yes, this webcast might be viewed as just another talking heads exercise. I am hoping some good will come out of it. If nothing else, keep a conversation alive on how to address prevention of violence through nonviolence.

Here’s some information about the Webcast directly from the Institute of Medicine web site

Evidence for Violence Prevention Across the Lifespan and Around the World-A Workshop

When: January 23, 2013 – January 24, 2013 (8:00 AM Eastern)
Where: Keck Center (Keck 100) • 500 Fifth St. NW, Washington, DC 20001 Map
Topics: Global HealthChildren, Youth and FamiliesSubstance Abuse and Mental HealthPublic Health
Activity: Forum on Global Violence Prevention
Boards: Board on Global HealthBoard on Children, Youth, and Families

This workshop will be webcast. Register to attend in-person or register to watch the webcast.

  [My note…registration is now closed for in-person attendance, they’ve reached seating capacity]

Evidence shows that violence is not inevitable, and that it can be prevented. Successful violence prevention programs exist around the world, but a comprehensive approach is needed to systematically apply such programs to this problem.  As the global community recognizes the connection between violence and failure to achieve health and development goals, such an approach could more effectively inform policies and funding priorities locally, nationally, and globally.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) will convene a 2-day workshop to explore the evidentiary basis for violence prevention across the lifespan and around the world. The public workshop will be organized and conducted by an ad hoc committee to examine: 1) What is the need for an evidence-based approach to violence prevention across the world? 2) What are the conceptual and evidentiary bases for establishing what works in violence prevention? 3) What violence prevention interventions have been proven to reduce different types of violence (e.g., child and elder abuse, intimate partner and sexual violence, youth and collective violence, and self-directed violence)?  4) What are common approaches most lacking in evidentiary support? and 5) How can demonstrably effective interventions be adapted, adopted, linked, and scaled up in different cultural contexts around the world?

The committee will develop the workshop agenda, select and invite speakers and discussants, and moderate the discussions. Experts will be drawn from the public and private sectors as well as from academic organizations to allow for multi-lateral discussions. Following the conclusion of the workshop, an individually-authored summary of the event will be prepared by a designated rapporteur.

 

*** I did respond to the newspaper article. The response is online. I am expecting some rather strong responses, perhaps about how naive I am (sigh).

“Now I know, more than ever, that I have to get more involved in addressing violence through nonviolent means. For starters, am going to get better prepared for a nonviolent workshop our Pax Christi USA section is sponsoring next month. Also am going to do my best to follow through with a local Community Committee Against Gun Violence (http://civic.moveon.org/event/events/index.html?rc=homepage&action_id=302). Guess it’s time to be part of the solution…these two events are steps that are challenging, don’t solve things overnight, but in my heart of hearts…I feel called to participate in actions like these….(am thanking teachers here, esp those at St. Catherine’s(1960-1969) and Central Catholic (1969-1973).”

 

January 11, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Safety, Educational Resources (Elementary School/High School), Educational Resources (Health Professionals), Educational Resources (High School/Early College( | , , , , | Leave a comment

Yes Virginia, Gun Control Does Work

Praying the Devil Back to Hell-HERE AND NOW!

Despite the massive loopholes in the 1994 assault weapon ban, it still helped — according to the only official study that Congress permitted and according to an October 2012 Johns Hopkins School of Public Health Study.

JH School of Public Health Study
http://www.jhsph.edu/research/centers-and-institutes/johns-hopkins-center-for-gun-policy-and-research/publications/WhitePaper102512_CGPR.pdf

National Institute of Justice Study
http://www.sas.upenn.edu/jerrylee/research/aw_final2004.pdf

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December 27, 2012 Posted by | Public Health | , | Leave a comment

The Connecticut Shootings: Now is the Time for a Debate over Gun Control

In my humble opinion, this tragedy is also a call to each of us to do what we can to improve access to good mental health care, and also for us as individuals to build community and reach out (as personally as possible) to those in need.

From the 14 December 2012 post by Darrell West  at the Brookings Blog Up Front

I understand and share President Obama’s concerns for the victims of today’s tragic school shootings in Connecticut and their families. But I am troubled byWhite House spokesman Jay Carney’s contentionthat today should not be a day to discuss the issue of gun control.

If not now, when?

It is no disservice to the victims to explore public policies that could mitigate the terrible, senseless carnage we have seen again and again across America. Movie-goers in Aurora. A congresswoman in Tucson. High school students in Columbine. And today, elementary school children in Sandy Hook. Innocents all.

Something is terribly wrong when our children are not safe in schools, when none of us is safe in a shopping mall, a cinema, a restaurant, the workplace. I don’t pretend to know the answers, but if ever it was time for a president, especially one fresh from a resounding election victory, to raise the issue for a somber, inclusive and nonpartisan public debate, this should be it. These tragedies cry out for political leadership. They should bring us closer together in resolve, not drive us further apart.

So, Mr. Carney and President Obama, we will take this day to mourn with the victims. Perhaps tomorrow, we can take action.

Editor’s Note: After the July 2012 shootings in Aurora, Colorado, Daniel Kauffman examined the connection between stronger gun control laws and decreases in gun violence. Read his analysis here »

 

December 15, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Safety | , , , | Leave a comment

I am a physician and guns are a disease

 

From the 9th August 2012 article at KevinMD.com

I feel guilty about the killings in Colorado.  As a doctor, those horrid events are a personal failure.  I have spent a career fighting illness, often investing hundreds of hours in a single cancer case, yet in minutes, a dozen people vanish and 58 are grievously wounded.  Another 32,000 will die this year from gunshots, over 76,000 will be crippled and I cannot keep up with this slaughter.  Why is this my fault?  Because, I am a physician and guns are a disease.

The great plagues of history killed hundreds of millions: Polio, Small Pox, Rabies, Yellow Fever, Influenza, Measles, Dengue and now AIDS.  These diseases are all caused by viral infections.  What is a virus? It is a perfect submicroscopic machine with only one purpose.  It does not create beauty like a flower, nourishment like a fruit tree, nor knowledge like man.  Its sole purpose is to create more viruses and at this it is the ideal mechanism.

A virus recreates itself by infecting the cells of the host on which it preys.  It destroys those cells, turning them into virus factories until overwhelmed by billions of virus particles the host, often a human, becomes ill.  As virus numbers explode the host gradually dies, the whole body becoming a massive sick infected virus-shedding machine and as a last act the virus spreads to the next person.  Then the cycle begins again, making new viruses.  That is all viruses do, reproduce themselves….

 

Related article

As a doctor, I’m going to keep asking about guns (KevinMD.com)

August 9, 2012 Posted by | Public Health | , | Leave a comment

   

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