Washington, Mar 1 (AFP) Gun injuries in the United States drop by about 20 per cent whenever the powerful gun lobby, the National Rifle Association (NRA) holds its big annual convention, US researchers have said.Also Read - US Eases Travel Restrictions on India Amid Dip in COVID Cases, Lowers Advisory to Level 3 | Here's What it Means

The study in the New England Journal of Medicine was observational in nature and stopped short of being able to prove any cause-and-effect. Also Read - The Penchant Endorsement of The Crisis of India by International Media

But researchers hypothesize that the decline they witnessed was due to the “brief period of gun abstinence during such conventions.” The findings also counter the widely held belief that accidents and injuries are more common among people who are inexperienced with guns. Also Read - Amid COVID Surge, US to Restrict Travel From India Starting May 4

“Fewer people using guns means fewer gun injuries, which in some ways is not surprising,” said senior author Anupam Jena, associate professor of health care policy at Harvard University Medical School.

“But the drop in gun injuries during these large meetings attended by thousands of well-trained gun owners seems to refute the idea that gun injuries stem solely from lack of experience and training in gun use.” The study examined nearly 76 million medical insurance claims for emergency department visits and hospitalizations related to firearm injuries between 2007 and 2015.

Researchers compared how many gun injuries occurred during NRA convention dates to the number of injuries that took place on identical days in the three weeks before and the three weeks after.

“Gun injuries on nonconvention days occurred at a rate of 1.5 per 100,000 people, compared with 1.25 on convention dates — a 20 per cent difference,” said the report.

NRA meetings tend to attract 80,000 or more people from across the United States.

“The biggest reductions in injuries during convention dates were among men in states in the South and West that have the country’s highest rates of gun ownership, and among individuals residing in the state hosting the convention, all of which support the notion that the reduction in injury rates is related to attendance at the conventions,” said the report.

Researchers were unable to measure whether convention dates also coincided with a decline in gun-related deaths, since gun-related homicides, suicides and fatal accidents are relatively rare.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were more than 65,000 intentional firearm injuries in the United States and nearly 16,000 unintentional firearm injuries in 2014, the latest year studied. (AFP) AJR 01031837

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.