Intended for healthcare professionals

Observations Yankee Doodling

Guns don’t kill crowds, people with semi-automatics do

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 25 January 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d477
  1. Douglas Kamerow, chief scientist, RTI International, and associate editor, BMJ
  1. dkamerow{at}

Why can’t we do a better job of protecting society from this type of attack?

Once again in the United States a seriously mentally ill man is suspected of mowing down a crowd before he can be wrestled to the ground.

This time the victims included a Congresswoman and a federal judge. A wave of shock spread across the country and around the world. Liberals blamed the mood of the country and violent rhetoric from conservative leaders. Conservatives howled with injustice and attacked the liberals for attacking them.

The handgun used for the attack was a Glock 19, a lightweight, compact, semi-automatic pistol that comes with a standard magazine holding 15 bullets of 9 mm calibre. Glock pistols have become the overwhelming choice of police departments around the world because of their light polymer construction and their ease of firing. They are called “semi-automatic” guns because, unlike revolvers that have one bullet per chamber, all the bullets can be fired by simply squeezing and re-squeezing the trigger. Jared …

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