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A Review of David Hemenway's Book 'Private Guns, Public Health'

A review of David Hemenway’s book ‘Private guns, public health’ gives a deep and comprehensive understanding of the firearm situation in the United States. The book paints a grim picture of the numerous fatalities and casualties that occur as a result of gun use. It introduces us to an approach that could be used to prevent and reduce the number of firearm fatalities. The approach is referred to as the public health approach. The objective of public health is not to campaign for the abolishment or strict regulation of guns. The text describes the public health approach to injury prevention.

However, the text raises a serious question relating to the issue of self defense. According to Hemenway, Gary Kleck made an incorrect assumption by claiming that the presence of guns deters crime. Is it possible that the presence of firearms deters crime? Kleck based his argument on the fact that in rural America, there is less crime as compared to Urban America. It is well known that there are more firearms in rural America than in the urban areas. Kleck had also claimed that highly publicized police programs training citizens on how to use guns considerably reduced the level of crime in Orlando and Kansas.

The public health approach also questions the devotion of the government in regulating the ownership and use of firearms. It is noted that the government takes more caution and spends more resources regulating and teaching about responsible use of other less harmful products like lawnmowers and chainsaws. Medical reports show that the direct medical costs associated with gunshot wounds are approximately six million dollars per day. This figure is reduced by the little medical care conducted on fatal gunshot wounds. This back-breaking financial burden is borne by the tax payers. Does the government have its priorities mixed? Why is it so afraid to set regulations that strictly control gun ownership and use?      


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