Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 29, Issue 7, pp 1065–1069 | Cite as

Does the Declining Lethality of Gunshot Injuries Mask a Rising Epidemic of Gun Violence in the United States?

  • Anupam B. JenaEmail author
  • Eric C. Sun
  • Vinay Prasad


Recent mass shootings in the U.S. have reignited the important public health debate concerning measures to decrease the epidemic of gun violence. Editorialists and gun lobbyists have criticized the recent focus on gun violence, arguing that gun-related homicide rates have been stable in the last decade. While true, data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also demonstrate that although gun-related homicide rates were stable between 2002 and 2011, rates of violent gunshot injuries increased. These seemingly paradoxical trends may reflect the declining lethality of gunshot injuries brought about by surgical advances in the care of the patient with penetrating trauma. Focusing on gun-related homicide rates as a summary statistic of gun violence, rather than total violent gunshot injuries, can therefore misrepresent the rising epidemic of gun violence in the U.S.


Gunshot Injury Homicide Rate Suffer Gunshot Injury Fatal Gunshot Injury Civilian Traumatic Care 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Dr. Jena had full access to all of the data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis. Support was provided by the Office of the Director, National Institutes of Health (1DP5OD017897-01, Dr. Jena).

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they do not have a conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Health Care PolicyHarvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  2. 2.Department of MedicineMassachusetts General HospitalCambridgeUSA
  3. 3.National Bureau of Economic ResearchCambridgeUSA
  4. 4.Department of AnesthesiaStanford University HospitalsStanfordUSA
  5. 5.Medical Oncology BranchNational Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MarylandBethesdaUSA

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