Firearms and the Public Health

GVPedia Study Database

Firearms and the Public Health

Category: Firearm Availability, Firearm Policies, Homicide, Suicide|Journal: Journal of Public Health Policy|Author: P Dietz, S Baker, S Teret|Year: 1980


The purpose of this article by Baker et al. was to assemble broad references to support a thesis that firearms control and regulation were either lacking or poorly implemented. This article was a non-experimental explanation describing how the widespread ownership and use of firearms in American society had a negative impact on public health.


The authors followed a nonexperimental review of the literature.


Firearms in the United States were reported as second only to motor vehicles in the number of fatal injuries they inflicted. In 1977, firearms were responsible for 32,000 deaths in this country. They were used in two-thirds of all homicides and also provided the most common vehicle of committing suicide in the United States. Specifically, the authors note that firearms were used in more than half of all suicides. The estimated number of nonfatal injuries caused by firearms ranged as high as 100,000 per year in the U.S. and handguns accounted for three-fourths of firearm related homicides.
The increasing availability of firearms was believed to be related to increasing incidence of firearm-related injuries. The Federal Gun Control act of 1968 brought a somewhat higher degree of regulation to firearm use and regulation than was previously available. The Federal Gun Control Act made it unlawful to sell a firearm to a person less than 18 years of age or who had been convicted of certain crimes, was a fugitive from justice, unlawfully used controlled substances, or had been adjudicated as a mental defective. Manufacturers and importers of guns were required by the Federal Gun Control Act to be federally licensed and the law mandated keeping records of gun manufacture data as well as specifying a prohibition on the import of nonsporting categories of firearms.

Verified by MonsterInsights