Doctors should work towards elimination of all firearms and knives

BMJ 1997; 314 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.314.7079.510 (Published 15 February 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;314:510
  1. John Gunn, Professor of forensic psychiatrya,
  2. Andrew Johns, Consultant forensic psychiatrista,
  3. Anthony Maden, Senior lecturer in forensic psychiatrya,
  4. Pamela J Taylor, Professor of special hospital psychiatrya
  1. a Institute of Psychiatry, Department of Forensic Psychiatry, London SE5 8AF

    Editor—With the publication of the Cullen report into the shooting of several children at a school in Scotland1 and the cross party support in parliament to increase the controls on handguns, the moment is ripe for the medical profession to pursue a new health campaign. Over the past three or four decades the profession has had some success in raising public awareness of the risks of cigarette smoking and through that, probably, in saving lives. The reduction of the suicide rate is an objective of the Health of the Nation for England, yet suicide rates are still rising among young men.2 Homicide is a major political issue. Weapons, especially firearms and knives, contribute to both these forms of premature death. Elimination of all firearms and knives that are surplus to domestic and industrial requirements would not solve either problem entirely, but it would make an important contribution.

    We believe that the profession, through the BMA and one or two royal colleges (particularly the Royal College of Psychiatrists), could develop policies about weapons control. The prime minister has already indicated that he would introduce controls on knives if a workable definition for the surplus ones was drawn up.


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