MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Adil Haider, MD, MPH, FACS
Kessler Director for the Center for Surgery and Public Health
Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Deputy Editor of JAMA Surgery
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: Firearm-related mortality is a public health issue. However, in the US, due in part to lack of funding, there is not enough research to inform the debate about firearms.
The question our group sought to answer was to understand if the presence of a semi-automatic weapon increased the number of victims killed or hurt during an active shooter incident. We chose to focus on these incidents given the availability of an FBI database detailing these active shooter incidents based on a strict definition and the similarities between such incidents that make a comparison valid.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: We found that active shooter incidents involving semi-automatic rifles, are associated with nearly twice as many people being injured or killed per incident compared to those incidents where the shooter only had a hand gun or non-semi automatic rifle.
The presence of a semi-automatic rifle at active shooter incidents versus incidents where a semi-automatic rifle was not present was associated with a higher incidence of those wounded 5.48 vs 3.02; killed 4.25 vs 2.49 and total persons wounded or killed 9.72 vs 5.47
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: All firearms have the potential to be deadly but some types of firearms, such as assault-style semi-automatic rifles, enable a shooter to kill and injure more people than if they did not have access to one.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: A central repository of all shooting injuries and deaths must be made to further inform the conversation around firearms. Police departments and federal agencies do the collect the data so there is an opportunity to make it available in an easily accessible database. Ideally, future research would be able to look at shooting deaths from firearms in all instances across the US and how firearm type effects lethality but currently that is not possible due to lack of data.
de Jager E, Goralnick E, McCarty JC, Hashmi ZG, Jarman MP, Haider AH. Lethality of Civilian Active Shooter Incidents With and Without Semiautomatic Rifles in the United States. JAMA. 2018;320(10):1034–1035. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.11009
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