5041.0: Wednesday, November 15, 2000 - 9:30 AM

Abstract #12679

Proximate causes of unintended shootings in metropolitan Atlanta, Georgia: An incident-based analysis

Arthur Kellermann, MD, MPH, Tomoko R. Sampson, BS, Dawna S. Fuqua-Whitley, MA, and Kidist K. Bartolomeos, MPH. Center for Injury Control and the Department of Emergency Medicine, Emory University, 1518 Clifton Road 2nd Floor, Atlanta, GA 30322, 404-727-9977, akell01@sph.emory.edu

Objectives: Identify every unintentional shooting in a 5-county area of metropolitan Atlanta and determine the proportion that might be prevented by safe storage of guns, safe handling of practices and/or improvements in firearm design. Methods: A regional firearm injury surveillance system was used to collect data on firearm injuries and deaths. Reports from emergency departments, law enforcement agencies, and medical examiners were linked and analyzed to identify high-risk groups and common scenarios for unintentional firearm injury. Results: Between May 1996, and December 1998, 156 cases of unintentional firearm injury were identified. This represents 4.2% of the gunshot injury cases that occurred during this time period. Three of these cases (1.9%) were fatal. The majority of victims were between 15 and 34 years of age. One-fourth were children under the age of 18. Handguns were involved in 86% of the incidents. Enough information was available to characterize the shooting event in 101 (63%) cases. All but 7 could be assigned to one of three broad categories of causation - child access (n=14), mishandling (n=55) and possible deficiencies in design (n=25). Conclusion: Many unintentional shootings could be prevented. This study reinforces the findings of a 1991 analysis by the General Accounting Office. It suggests that as many as 38% of unintended shootings could be prevented by restricting child access to firearms and mandating basic safety features on all new guns. Requiring new gun purchasers to demonstrate proficiency in the safe handling of firearms could also prevent some unintended shootings.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of this presentation, the participant will be able to: 1. Describe the incident of unintentional gun shot wounds in a metropolitan community; 2. Describe the key elements of a prototypical firearm injury surveillance system that links medical, police, and medical examiner reports; 3. Understand how data from a firearm injury surveillance system can be used to identify strategies to prevent fatal and nonfatal firearm injuries; and 4. Understand the policy implications of various strategies to prevent unintentional gunshot wounds

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: None
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

The 128th Annual Meeting of APHA