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Supreme Court Case Fuels Gun Violence Debate

District of Columbia statutes limiting handguns are being questioned

THURSDAY, March 20 (HealthDay News) -- A case before the U.S. Supreme Court that questions the constitutionality of the District of Columbia's statues limiting handguns has reopened debate about the meaning of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the public health consequences of handgun violence, according to several articles published in the April 3 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Mark Tushnet, J.D., of Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Mass., reviews the language of the Second Amendment with regards to the District of Columbia v. Heller court case and discusses how the amendment can be interpreted to support both gun control advocates' and gun rights advocates' points of view.

In a second article, Garen J. Wintemute, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of California-Davis in Sacramento, Calif., analyzes the public health implications of gun violence in the United States, citing the 30 percent case fatality rate associated with gunshot wounds and the association of gun ownership with increased risks of homicide and suicide. On the other hand, the 1976 District of Columbia statues controlling handguns led to reductions in gun-related homicides and suicides.

Wintemute voices the need for regulations of handgun use: "It's unlikely that health care professionals will soon prevent a greater proportion of shooting victims from dying; rather, we as a society must prevent shootings from occurring in the first place."

Full Text -- Tushnet
Full Text -- Wintemute

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