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Letter to JAMA Editor Regarding Brady Bill

from John A. Bennett, DO

Originally published on this website August 8, 2000

To the Editor:

The Brady Bill is an example of legislation along the medical model. The "disease" is handgun violence and the "prescribed treatment" is the restriction of purchasing legal handguns. Ludwig and Cook1 have analyzed the results of the Brady Bill and Rosenfeld2 has commented on that analysis. My intent is not to comment on the data or analysis but upon the sensible use of "Law" as "Medication."

There is consensus in the scientific medical community that before a medication is recommended, it must be shown efficacious and safe. Our legislators need to be advised of that standard and the proper use of it. They press forward with laws before they properly understand the law or its unintended consequences.

Dr. Rosenfeld does a disservice to society when he concludes his Editorial with the statement: "Until the results of that research are available, current knowledge does not warrant relaxing or abandoning any of the Brady Act-type restrictions on handgun purchases."3 This statement reverses the standard, so that before the law can be withdrawn, it must be shown to be dangerous or inefficacious.

Our legislators are poisoning our society with laws that are poorly understood, that interact with each other and which have not been shown to be safe or effective. Perhaps we need more physicians and fewer attorneys as legislators. First do no harm.


John A. Bennett, DO
Sequim, WA


  1. Ludwig J, Cook PJ, Homicide and Suicide Rates Associated With Implementation of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act. JAMA. 2000; 284:585-591.
  2. Rosenfeld R, Tracing the Brady Act's Connection With Homicide and Suicide Trends. JAMA. 2000; 284:616-618
  3. Rosenfeld; 618

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