October 1, 2009 11:32:14 am
People who possess a gun for personal defence are 4.5 times more likely than those not having one to be shot in an assault,according to a first-of its-kind study conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.
This study helps resolve the long-standing debate about whether guns are protective or perilous. Will possessing a firearm always safeguard against harm or will it promote a false sense of security? notes study author Dr. Charles C. Branas,Associate Professor of Epidemiology
The researchers have observed that almost five Philadelphians were shot every day over the course of the study,and about 1 of those 5 people died.
They say that their observations suggest that defensive gun uses,though possible and do occur each year,are less likely to be successful.
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The authors suggest that people rethink their possession of guns,and understand that regular possession necessitates careful safety countermeasures.
According to them,urban residents who may see gun possession as a defence against a dangerous environment should,in particular,be discussed and thoughtfully reconsidered.
The researchers studied the link between being shot in an assault and a persons possession of a gun at the time of the shooting.
As identified by police and medical examiners,they randomly selected 677 cases of Philadelphia residents who were shot in an assault from 2003 to 2006.
In six percent of the cases,those who were shot were in possession of a gun.
The shooting cases were matched to Philadelphia residents who acted as the studys controls.
To identify the controls,trained phone canvassers called random Philadelphians soon after a reported shooting,and asked about their possession of a gun at the time of the shooting.
These random Philadelphians had not been shot and had nothing to do with the shooting.
This is the same approach that epidemiologists have historically used to establish links between such things as smoking and lung cancer or drinking and car crashes.
The US has at least one gun for every adult. Learning how to live healthy lives alongside guns will require more studies such as this one. This study should be the beginning of a better investment in gun injury research through various government and private agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control,which in the past have not been legally permitted to fund research designed to affect the passage of specific Federal,State,or local legislation intended to restrict or control the purchase or use of firearms, notes Branas.
The study has been released online in the American Journal of Public Health,in advance of print publication in November 2009.
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