Researcher suggests gun related violence prevention, Second Amendment 'not mutually exclusive'

A Boston-area professor said last week a middle ground exists between protecting the Second Amendment and methods of reducing gun-related violence.

In “Broadening the Perspective on Gun Violence: An Examination of the Firearms Industry, 1990–2015,” Boston University School of Public Health professor Dr. Michael Siegel said he wanted to frame gun research in a different context.

“Research on firearm violence tends to focus on two elements — the host (i.e., victims of firearm violence) and the environment (i.e., gun policies),” he said in the article’s introduction, published Thursday. “But little attention has been paid to the agent (the gun and ammunition) or the vector (firearm manufacturers, dealers, and the industry lobby).”

According to federal data, firearms manufacturing in America tripled between 2000 and 2013 — the last year Seigel studied.

In that year alone, manufacturers produced 4.4 million pistols, 4 million rifles, 1.2 million shotguns, 725,000 revolvers and 495,000 miscellaneous firearms, according to Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Firearms manufacturing dipped 16 percent the following year to just over 9 million produced.

“[Manufacturers] have reinvented guns not as a recreational sport or tool but as a symbol of freedom and security,” Siegel told ABC News Thursday.

Siegel said the increased manufacturing of high-caliber pistols, especially, points to a consumer’s growing interest in self-defense — and a similar need for a new perspective on gun-related violence as a public health issue, not a criminal justice one.

“Ultimately, a better understanding of the products on the market may have implications for improving firearms as consumer products, such as fostering changes in design to increase safety or changes in corporate practices to better protect consumers, as has been done for tobacco products,” the report concludes.

Siegel said the study, published last week in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, doesn’t mean to imply gun owners should lose their right to bear arms, but rather society must create an effective way to weed out those more prone to violent acts.

“They are not the enemy in public health,” he said. “There are ways to reduce gun violence while valuing gun owners’ values. … It has been painted too long as mutually exclusive.”

Larry Keane, general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, reiterated the organization’s long-standing opposition to viewing gun-related violence through a public health lens.

“Guns are not a disease,” he told ABC News. “There is no vaccine or health intervention for the criminal misuse of firearms.”

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