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  1. Ivan Barry Pless
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ivan Barry Pless, Retired, 434 Lansdowne, Westmount, Quebec, Canada H3Y2V2; barry.pless{at}

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Gun lobby opposes US surgeon general nominee

The National Rifle Association (NRA) is opposing a vote to confirm Dr Vivek Murthy to be surgeon general. They do so because he has advocated stricter gun controls and believe he should focus on ‘real’ health concerns, not guns. In response, The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) wrote in an editorial1, that the NRA's campaign to block the nomination is ‘political blackmail.’ ‘The NRA opposes Murthy solely on the grounds that he has advocated reasonable and mainstream forms of gun regulation, including an assault-weapons ban, a limit on ammunition sales, and required safety training. Given that there are more than 30 000 firearm deaths in the United States each year, Murthy's views on potential safeguards are unsurprising.’ NRA officials declined to comment, but stated in a letter to congressional leaders ‘Simply put, confirmation of Dr Murthy is a prescription for disaster for America's gun owners.’

Missouri gun murders rose after law repeal

Dan Webster analysed a natural experiment that provided strong evidence supporting the benefits of tighter gun controls in the USA2. In 2007, Missouri repealed a handgun law requiring purchasers to be vetted by the local sheriff, and to receive a license before buying a gun. The repeal resulted in an immediate increase in gun violence. Webster noted ‘That upward trajectory did not happen with homicides that did not involve guns; it did not occur to any neighboring state; the national trend was doing the opposite … ; and it was not specific to one or two localities—it was, for the most part, state-wide’. The researchers took account of changes in policing levels and incarceration rates, trends in burglaries, and several other possible confounding factors. After the repeal, twice as many handguns ended up in the hands of criminals. America now has more than 300 million firearms in circulation, and the issue …

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  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.