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Accidental Firearm Fatalities

Norman B. Rushforth, PhD; Charles S. Hirsch, MD; Amasa B. Ford, MD; Lester Adelson, MD
JAMA. 1977;238(22):2367. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03280230031010.
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To the Editor.—  The recent SPECIAL COMMUNICATION by Richard B. Drooz, MD (238:43-45, 1977), contains a serious factual error that we wish to correct. In referring to our paper on accidental firearm fatalities,1 he writes, "... the number of accidents due to keeping a handgun for selfdefense is obscured and swelled in several ways. Their description is unclear, but apparently they counted suicides among accidental deaths" [italics added]. The "Method" section of our publication states clearly that firearm fatalities are classified as accident, suicide, homicide, or violence of undetermined origin, and the medical and legal methods of classification, which were consistent over the 15 years reported, are described in some detail. We fail to see how anybody could come away with the impression that our accident data include firearm suicides. The paper in question reports 148 fatal firearm accidents (83% of which resulted from mishaps with handguns) in Cuyahoga County,


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