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Letter: Closer Reading of Gun Study

To the Editor:

I respond to Charlie Buttrey’s assertion that a 2009 article published in the American Journal of Public Health proved that, “People in possession of a gun are 4.5 times more likely to be shot in an assault than those without one” (“Firearms Don’t Save Lives,” May 3).

I didn’t think the statement rang true, so I read the article myself. Here’s what I found:

The study was conducted in a high-crime inner-city area of Philadelphia. The report states, “It is also worth noting that our findings are possibly not generalizable to nonurban areas whose gun injury risks can be significantly different than those of urban centers like Philadelphia.”

The study involved 667 case participants who had been shot during an assault but does not indicate that possession of a gun by any of them was indeed legal, that they had any firearms training or how they came into possession of the gun. The article contains several pertinent disclaimers.

The following quote gives one the impression that perhaps most of those in possession of a gun were of questionable status: “However, compared with control participants, shooting case participants were significantly more often Hispanic, more frequently working in high-risk occupations, less educated, and had a greater frequency of prior arrest. At the time of shooting, case participants were also significantly more often involved with alcohol and drugs, outdoors, and closer to areas where more blacks, Hispanics, and unemployed individuals resided. Case participants were also more likely to be located in areas with less income and more illicit drug trafficking.”

So we have a report concerning unsuitable people, engaged in unsuitable behavior, and associating with other unsuitable people. What has it to do with the ordinary law-abiding citizen? What has it to do with the purpose of the Second Amendment? I answer: nothing.

Here is a link to the article itself: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2759797.

William P. Walsh

Newport

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