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