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ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN—Rebecca Cunningham has only one kind of memory from her early childhood: violence. Her father shattered mirrors, tore up the house, and beat and threatened to kill her mother. Cunningham, then less than 5 years old, remembers her older sister trying to protect her.
"When my father would start in with my mother, my sister would cover my eyes and try to hide with me behind the couch," recalls Cunningham, now a 48-year-old emergency physician and researcher at the University of Michigan (UM) here. "The police were in and out of the house a lot. If there had been a gun in my home in those years, my mother certainly would have been killed."
Day - Cunningham - Father - Lawyer - Mother
One day Cunningham's father, a lawyer, called her mother threatening to kill her. Her mother changed the locks on their New Jersey house. She sent Cunningham's two older siblings to live with a safely distant foster family. And she bought a handgun.
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Did that pistol make Cunningham and her mother safer? Public health experts can't answer that question: A 2003 study that examined whether abused women living apart from their abusers are safer with a gun was inconclusive. No study since has delved into the issue.
Questions - Firearms - Violence - Dearth - Funding
It's one of myriad questions about firearms and violence that remain unanswered, largely because of a dearth of funding to explore them. Guns are the second-leading cause of death of children and teens in the United States, after motor vehicle crashes. In 2016, the most recent year for which data are available, they killed nearly 3150 people aged 1 to 19, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta. Cancer killed about 1850. But this year, the National Institutes of Health (NIH)...
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