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Posted: 9/23/2004 11:55:04 AM EDT
if you would beleive this "professor"...

Gun-law demise worries health experts
End of assault-weapon ban may add to trauma costs
By Kristen Gerencher, CBS.MarketWatch.com

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS.MW) -- When the federal ban on assault weapons that went into effect during the Clinton administration expired last week after 10 years on the books, some safety experts saw it as an opportunity squandered.

The ban was enacted after a series of mass shootings, including one in San Francisco in 1993 that killed eight people and wounded six. It kept 19 kinds of semiautomatic weapons from being produced and sold in the United States starting in September 1994 and forbid military-like features such as pistol grips on rifles, threaded barrels for attaching silencers, flash hiders and folding rifle stocks.

Perhaps most importantly, the law limited ammunition magazines to 10 rounds, meaning guns could discharge no more than 10 bullets, each requiring a squeeze of the trigger, before having to be reloaded.

Specifics aside, what the assault-weapons ban really did was make injury prevention a national priority, medical experts said.

"For a decade, we had a national consensus that included the policymakers that we had to be careful, at least a bit careful, about what kind of weapons we put out there," said Dr. Katherine Kaufer Christoffel, a professor of pediatrics and preventive medicine at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine.

"What the elimination of the assault-weapons ban says to me is we're going back to viewing this as a purely criminal-justice issue and not a public-health issue, and I think that's a mistake, a turn in the wrong direction."

Georges Benjamin, executive diretor of the American Public Health Association, which represents 50,000 public-health professionals, said lifting the ban will result in more gunshot victims filling trauma centers in years to come. "The problem with assault weapons is you don't have to aim very well. You can spray... and it's much more indiscriminate. The rounds cause much more damage. They're much more powerful," said Benjamin, who practiced emergency medicine in Washington, D.C., in the late 1980s.

"I believe it's irresponsible," he said of the ban-lifting. "It's poor policy... We went to war over keeping weapons of mass destruction away from this country, and yet we leave weapons of mass destruction in the hands of kids and criminals. I just don't understand it."

Controversy ensues

Not everyone agrees that the expiration of the assault-weapons ban will have public-health consequences. Robert Cottrol, a law professor at George Washington University, said the ban targeted the wrong kind of guns and can't compete with tougher enforcement and longer prison terms in keeping offenders from harming others.

"If they're able to get cocaine and heroin, of which there's no legal supply in the U.S., why aren't they going to get high-capacity magazines from whatever source?" Cottrol said. "We're not depriving them of high-capacity magazines; we're depriving ourselves of high-capacity magazines.... I'm not sure we want to make it harder for us to defend ourselves against the gangbangers and drug dealers."
A college prof who gets it.......

Although the data do not break out assault weapons, the number of gun-related deaths has steadily declined in the last decade. In 2001, 29,573 Americans died from firearm-related incidents, down from a recent high of 38,317 in 1991, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The figures include accidents, suicides and homicides.

A number of factors -- including a drop in crack-cocaine-related violence, improved police practices, a robust economy and a growing prison population -- contributed to lower gun violence during the 1990s, said Philip Cook, a public policy professor at Duke University and coauthor of "Gun Violence: The Real Costs."

"The nongun homicide rate was also going down during that period," he said. "It's hard to credit gun laws with a great deal during that period."

But the price of gun violence is still high. It cost about $2 billion to treat gunshot wounds in 1996, according to a one-time study by Cook.

Apart from the most obvious costs of gun violence, fear of it also exacts a broad-based toll ranging from depressed property values to general anxiety, Cook said. "The most important effect is the reduction of the standard of living by creating a threat or forcing people to make adjustments in their lives."

And some of those adjustments have negative consequences for public health, such as increased childhood obesity in areas where parents are too afraid to let their children play outside.

Long-term effects

While assault weapons may not be the guns of choice for most crimes, they tend to be used in mass shootings and attacks on police officers, said David Hemenway, a health policy professor at Harvard School of Public Health"It's not clear what the benefit of having these weapons [is,] and they clearly pose some danger," Hemenway said.

The expiration of the assault-weapons ban makes any assessment of its impact premature since 10 years is not enough time to diminish the pre-1994 weapons stock, argues Christopher Koper, a research associate for the Jerry Lee Center of Criminology at the University of Pennsylvania.

"On balance, I would say the ban probably has not had much of an impact on gun violence, shootings and murders to this point," Koper said. "But evidence suggests extending the ban could produce some reductions in shootings."

"This law was written in a way that virtually guaranteed that the effects would only occur very gradually over time, and those effects were still unfolding and have not yet fully been felt," he said.

Apart from the federal weapons ban, the Brady law that requires background checks for all gun sales in stores, along with other licensing reforms, seems to have been effective in reducing gun violence, Koper said. Several states, such as California, also maintain tougher regulations.

"In '93, 70 percent of murders involved guns but by the late '90s, that had dropped to 65 percent," he said, citing FBI statistics. "In my view, that's a sign that some of the gun-control measures put in place were having some impact on the availability of guns to offenders."

The demise of the federal law, which he said limited gun accessories more than guns, may result in an increase of up to 5 percent more shootings based on limited available evidence, Koper estimated.

Concerns about the future

The problems that feed demand for assault weapons are complex, but availability is "the part of the formula we can do something about," said Ed Laurance, director of the security and development program at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

Semiautomatic weapons are different from automatic weapons like machine guns, which have been severely restricted among civilians since the 1930s, Laurance said.

A significant issue is the market for conversion kits, which people often buy on the black market or at gun shows, he said.

"You can take one of these semiautomatic assault rifles that are now legal and convert them to automatic. I think you'll see a huge increase in that market," Laurance said.

With the ban lifted, assault weapons and large-capacity magazines likely will become cheaper, Cook said. "The first law of economics is going to operate. We're going to see more people acquire them."
Link Posted: 9/23/2004 12:13:48 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/23/2004 12:14:47 PM EDT by HeavyMetal]
Link Posted: 9/23/2004 12:15:43 PM EDT
Hey it's really easy to pinch your finger in a telescopic stock. Hell, Kerry got a purple heart for less..
Link Posted: 9/23/2004 12:45:48 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/23/2004 12:49:03 PM EDT by DoubleFeed]
Link Posted: 9/23/2004 1:02:22 PM EDT
Dude, where you been? This has been going on for years! I remember reading 4 or 5 years ago that Doctors were starting to ask their patients, especially the kids, about gun ownership in the home and trying to tie it to "Public Health and Welfare". At the time, I thought it was crazy, no Doctor has EVER asked me about gun ownership. After some careful thought, it sounded, to me anyway, like it might just be the opening, experimental salvo in their next plan. It sounds like they've finally finished the experiment phase and might just be moving to the "Push It Down Their Throats" phase. This could be REAL BAD if they finally convince the masses that guns are a "Public Health and Welfare" issue! Might be just about time to "Feed the Hogs"!

Link Posted: 9/23/2004 1:03:22 PM EDT
oh look!!

Another person to hate!!
Link Posted: 9/23/2004 1:14:57 PM EDT
Link Posted: 9/23/2004 1:19:36 PM EDT
Assault weapons cause obesity - I love that one. How ridiculous can you get?
Link Posted: 9/23/2004 1:24:26 PM EDT
The AMA is trying to deflect attention away from its own "medical mis-adventures," which is a fancy medical term for oophs. As matter of fact the docs have a higer kill that assualt weapons.
Link Posted: 9/23/2004 1:26:42 PM EDT
The UN and the AMA have been pushing that crap for years!
Link Posted: 9/23/2004 1:29:36 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/23/2004 1:34:18 PM EDT by nightstalker]
Really, Dr. Assume (Katherine Kaufer Christoffel), shouldn’t we be taking care of REAL short-comings that lead to REAL death.......nearly 100,000 per year.

as many as 98,000 patients die in the more than 5000 U.S. hospitals each year because of medical errors. Such mistakes are the eighth leading cause of death in America—ahead of car accidents, AIDS and breast cancer—according to the IOM’s most conservative estimates.

Don't Bother Me, I'm Busy Covering My Ass

And the CDC said nothing conclusive could be proven re so-called assault weapons.
Link Posted: 9/23/2004 1:43:41 PM EDT

Originally Posted By AZ-K9:
..."On balance, I would say the ban probably has not had much of an impact on gun violence, shootings and murders to this point," Koper said. "But evidence suggests extending the ban could produce some reductions in shootings."

He's almost got it:

"On balance, I would say the ban on [freedom] probably has not had much of an impact on [safety], to this point," Koper said. "But evidence suggests extending the ban could produce some reductions in [freedom]."


Security = safety = public health = <insert favorite soundbite here> = ...ad nauseum

This is actually a pretty old tactic. Saw it argued years ago, before the AWB, in some hospital publications. As usual, there goes the medical community again, constantly trying to spin every other topic as a health crisis. Great for leveraging funding for cash-strapped programs/studies, not to mention personal bank accounts.
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