Victor J. Dzau, MD; Alan I. Leshner, PhD
Note: Dr. Dzau is president of the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine). Dr. Leshner is CEO emeritus of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and chair of the committee that authored “Priorities for Research to Reduce the Threat of Firearm-Related Violence.”
Disclosures: Authors have disclosed no conflicts of interest. Forms can be viewed at www.acponline.org/authors/icmje/ConflictOfInterestForms.do?msNum=M18-0579.
Corresponding Author: Victor J. Dzau, MD, National Academy of Medicine, 500 5th Street NW, Washington, DC 20001.
Current Author Addresses: Dr. Dzau: National Academy of Medicine, 500 5th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001.
Dr. Leshner: 12118 Little Creek Drive, Potomac, MD 20854.
Author Contributions: Conception and design: V.J. Dzau, A.I. Leshner.
Drafting of the article: V.J. Dzau, A.I. Leshner.
Critical revision of the article for important intellectual content: V.J. Dzau, A.I. Leshner.
Final approval of the article: V.J. Dzau, A.I. Leshner.
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Robert B. Sklaroff, M.D.
July 9, 2018
Public Health Research on Gun Violence: Long Overdue
Public health research on gun violence is long overdue (1), but it must NOT be politicized. Reflexly touted is the Institute of Medicine’s distillation of “Priorities for Research to Reduce the Threat of Firearm-Related Violence” (2), but intuitive omissions therefrom threaten to impugn the quality of any quasi-scientific initiative based solely thereupon.Overtly insufficient was “the research program envisioned by the committee (designed to produce impacts in 3-5 years) that focuses on —the characteristics of firearm violence, —risk and protective factors, —interventions and strategies, —gun safety technology, and —the influence of video games and other media.”This presumably comprehensive formulation evades the necessity to assess the impact of irrefutable parameters that are recognized in the lay literature. For example, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel faced criticism for his department’s repeated failures to stop the Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida (3); indeed, the Broward County school district’s adoption of a lax school discipline policy—praised by the Obama administration for seeking to reduce the reported number of school suspensions, expulsions, and arrests—may have helped Nikolas Cruz remain under-the-radar until his shooting rampage (4).The only specific parameter that could encompass these concerns is intent to “Improve understanding of the effectiveness of actions directed at preventing access to firearms by violence-prone individuals.” Omitted is any effort to probe the pattern of institutional failures that occurred in Broward— encompassing school officials, government personnel and social workers—recognizing that police department failures indubitably transpired before (negligent house-calls), during (inexcusable cowardice) and after (CNN Town Hall) the mass-shooting.Ignored is the specter of unjustified gun confiscation threatening Second Amendment rights as sustained by the Supreme Court, which has prematurely been instituted in American communities. Ignored is the necessity to focus upon the sufficiency of treatment of mental illness. Ignored is the need to accommodate non-sharpshooters who may not wish to limit the number of bullets they can discharge from a firearm upon which they would depend for self-defense.As explored during discussion of the accompanying call-to-arms (5), interventions must be based on data that are accepted by responsible thinkers on all sides of this ongoing debate, transcending perennial polemics. This will preclude adopting a sense of resignation (e.g., “Chicago hoodlums inevitably get out-of-state guns”), as consensus development is stripped of those seeking only to validate preconceived notions. 1. Dzau VJ & Leshner AI. Public Health Research on Gun Violence: Long Overdue. Ann Intern Med. 2018;168(12):876-877. Accessed on 7/7/2018: http://annals.org/aim/fullarticle/2675740/public-health-research-gun-violence-long-overdue 2. Institute of Medicine; National Research Council - Priorities for Research to Reduce the Threat of Firearm-Related Violence. Washington, D.C. National Academies Pr, 2013. Accessed on 7/7/2018: http://www.nationalacademies.org/hmd/Reports/2013/Priorities-for-Research-to-Reduce-the-Threat-of-Firearm-Related-Violence/Report-Brief060513.aspx 3. Domenech B. Sheriff Scott Israel Exemplifies the Failures of Our Institutions. Accessed on 7/7/2018: http://thefederalist.com/2018/02/26/sheriff-scott-israel-exemplifies-the-failures-of-our-institutions/4. Berry S. Broward County Likely ‘Inspiration’ for Obama School Discipline Policy to Report Fewer Arrests, Suspensions (2/26/2018). Accessed on 7/7/2018: https://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2018/02/26/broward-county-likely-inspiration-for-obama-school-discipline-policy-to-report-fewer-arrests-suspensions/.5. The Editors. Editors' Note: Call for Articles on Firearm-Related Harm. Ann Intern Med. 2018;168(12):887. Accessed on 7/7/2018: http://annals.org/aim/fullarticle/2675741/editors-note-call-articles-firearm-related-harm.
Dzau VJ, Leshner AI. Public Health Research on Gun Violence: Long Overdue. Ann Intern Med. 2018;168:876–877. doi: 10.7326/M18-0579
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 2018;168(12):876-877.
Published at www.annals.org on 20 March 2018
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