Doctors Urge Bullet Tax to Solve Gun Violence Epidemic
Saturday, October 24, 1992
The American fascination with guns has created a
public health crisis of epidemic proportions and a tax on bullets
could pay for a national solution, doctors told a Senate panel
"It is time to bite the bullet back," said George Lundberg, editor
in chief of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The AMA's spectrum of publications devoted June issues to gun
deaths and injuries as health matters.
Lundberg and other doctors testifying to a Senate panel on Social
Security and family policy urged government to study gun violence
the same way it examined traffic deaths in the 1950s and 1960s.
Public health data collected about traffic deaths have helped craft
laws and educational efforts that Lundberg said cut the number of
those deaths 13 percent from 1980 to 1990.
But deaths and injuries from guns, especially handguns, are
escalating. AMA trustee Robert McAfee, a Portland, Maine, surgeon,
noted that while the American population increased 26 percent
between 1960 and 1990, the homicide rate from guns rose 160
Violence is the No. 1 cause of injury among women, he said, and the
leading cause of death for all teen-age boys is gunshot wounds.
Noting that violent injuries add about $5.3 billion to the U.S.
healthcare tab -- mainly to pay for high cost emergency care --
McAfee said, "Frankly, I'm a little sick and tired of being sent
the bill for violence and then being criticized for the high cost
of health care."
Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, D-N.Y., the panel's chairman, has
proposed a federal tax on bullets, which would pay for a special
center that would study, as a public health issue, the causes and
effects of gun violence.
The doctors who testified yesterday favored the legislation.
But the National Rifle Association objects to the bill, as it does
to any measure concerning guns, as unconstitutional.
The Second Amendment says the citizenry has the right to keep and