Violent confrontations usually do not have a predetermined outcome. One important determinant of whether the victim lives or dies is the type of weapon used by the assailant. Relative to other types of readily available weapons, guns are intrinsically more lethal, providing the assailant with the power to kill quickly, at a distance, with little effort or sustained intent. The evidence shows that if a gun is deployed during a violent encounter, the chance that someone will die or be seriously injured is increased. That accounts in part for the fact that while only a small fraction of assaults involve guns, about two-thirds of the homicides do. In short, guns intensify violence.

The widespread availability of guns helps account for the most distinctive feature of crime ...

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