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Mortality Associated with Use of Weapons in Armed Conflicts, Wartime Atrocities, and Civilian Mass Shootings: Literature Review

Robin M. Coupland and David R. Meddings
BMJ: British Medical Journal
Vol. 319, No. 7207 (Aug. 14, 1999), pp. 407-410
Published by: BMJ
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25185519
Page Count: 4
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Mortality Associated with Use of Weapons in Armed Conflicts, Wartime Atrocities, and Civilian Mass Shootings: Literature Review
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Abstract

Objective To determine the implications of variation in mortality associated with use of weapons in different contexts. Design Literature review. Settings Armed conflicts and civilian mass shootings, 1929-96. Main outcome measure Mortality from wounds. Results During the fighting of war the number of people wounded is at least twice the number killed and may be 13 times as high; this ratio of the number wounded to the number killed results from the impact of a weapon system on human beings in the particular context of war. When firearms are used against people who are immobilised, in a confined space, or unable to defend themselves the wounded to killed ratio has been lower than 1 or even 0. Conclusions Mortality from firearms depends not only on the technology of the weapon or its ammunition but also on the context in which it is used. The increased mortality resulting from the use of firearms in situations other than war requires a complex interaction of factors explicable in terms of wound ballistics and the psychology of the user. Understanding these factors has implications for recognition of war crimes. In addition, the lethality of conventional weapons may be increased if combatants are disabled by the new non-lethal weapons beforehand; this possibility requires careful legal examination within the framework of the Geneva Conventions.

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