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
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standard, so that before the law can be withdrawn, it must be shown to be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
- Ludwig J, Cook PJ, Homicide and Suicide Rates Associated With
Implementation of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act. JAMA. 2000;
- Rosenfeld R, Tracing the Brady Act's Connection With Homicide and Suicide
Trends. JAMA. 2000; 284:616-618
- Rosenfeld; 618
"Ask not what your country can force other people to do for you."