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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

The Biggest Threat to Public Health: Guns

August 13, 2004

Seventeen people died violently in Los Angeles County last weekend, most killed by guns (Aug. 10). On the other hand, just one person died presumably from West Nile virus. Yet the press, the public health community and citizens have us believing we are in a crisis, and money and effort are being spent to drain standing water, advise people to wear insect repellent and spray for mosquito infestations. The possibility of a cure and even an inoculation are being pursued.

Did the public health community enhance its search for prevention strategies for gun violence? It is intolerable that so little is done to change the environment that breeds violence. And so little is done to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and youth. How many will have to die before we call gun violence a public health crisis?

Ann Reiss Lane

Chair, Women Against Gun Violence

Los Angeles

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