Understanding the Risk of Firearms: Suicide vs. Homicide - page 2

If you watch the news or TV shows, you might be led to believe that there is a high risk of firearm homicide. Researchers from Northeastern University, University of Washington, and Harvard... Read More

  1. by   macawake
    Quote from cec0007
    As for school and movie theater mass shootings, it is my belief that one contributing factor is that many of these places have signs clearly stating there are no guns there, in other words, they are "gun free zones."
    Schools are "gun free zones" in a majority of other "first-world" countries too, yet they have no way near the number of mass shootings as yours do. Why do you think that is?

    Quote from cec0007
    As for passively preventing violence, I'm convinced that one reason non-drug and non-gang related home invasions are very low in some locations is because of widespread gun ownership.
    Home invasions aren't really a thing in my country. I live in a medium-sized city (~2 million) and many of my neighbors in the apartment building I live in don't even lock their front doors when they're home during the daytime. If home invasions genuinely pose a statistically significant threat to you, then I think you have other problems that need more interventions than merely increasing gun ownership among the population.

    Quote from cec0007
    When reading about gun violence, it's important to remember and consider the above factors. To those who are against gun ownership by law-abiding citizens, I'd ask that you not punish me, nor those like me, for the crimes of other people, which is exactly what overly restrictive gun control laws do.
    How many people actually support gun control laws that completely deny a law abiding citizen the right to own a gun? Can you pass a background check and are you otherwise emotionally and physically equipped to handle a firearm in a safe manner? If you can and are, I personally don't see a problem for you or anyone else who meets those criteria, to own a gun.

    Quote from cec0007
    I also like being able to own a vehicle and a cell phone, despite many, many highway deaths, some of which are due to texting. Although I'm a very infrequent drinker, I like being able to own a bottle of wine or have a margarita if I choose, despite many DUI and other alcohol related deaths and violence, including lots of domestic violence. And owning cars and cell phones aren't even Constitutional rights.
    The question isn't whether you should be allowed to drive a car despite the fact that other people get DUIs. The question is if a person who's been convicted of his or her third DUI has a sacred right to keep their driver's license and keep on driving.

    Quote from cec0007
    Some other points not addressed are the fact that gun ownership both actively and passively also prevents crimes of violence. The media doesn't often report on these, or if it does, only in passing and on only a local level.
    I'd love to see some reliable stats (for example from the FBI) on how many crimes are actually prevented/stopped by armed civilians. I'd also be very interested to know what percentage of these crimes (the prevented ones), involved an armed perpetrator. Because if you have less firearms circulating in general in any given society, chances that you will encounter an assailant armed with a gun, also decreases.

    Quote from cec0007
    "Guns (knives, cars, baseball bats, rocks) don't kill people; people kill people."
    This old chestnut...

    Do you seriously think that the Las Vegas shooter could have murdered 58 people and left 851 people injured if he had been armed with a rock or a baseball bat? Or even a car?

    There's a reason why you don't have any mass stonings. You simply can't kill many people in a short period of time with a rock (or ten rocks).

    Not only are guns much more efficient, they are also the coward perpetrator's weapon of choice because they allow them to kill many victims from a safe distance at minimal risk to themselves, compared to when they have to get up real close and risk being overpowered, in order to for example stab someone.

    I don't know if you have experience with actually shooting another human being or if you've ever had to physically hurt someone with your bare hands (and other body parts). Psychologically the difference is huge. The gun gives people confidence. If your school shooters didn't have access to firearms, I very much doubt that the majority of them would have the "guts" to act on their fantasies. In my opinion most violent criminals are cowards at heart, and most likely perform some version of a risk assessment before they embark on one of their endeavors.

    I was once attacked (off-duty/job-related). He had a knife and he got really close. I can still remember the sickening feeling (touch) and sound of breaking, crunching cartilage (his) as I defended myself. It's harder to be close.

    I understand why the gun manufacturer's lobby want to facilitate the sale of as many guns as possible with minimal "red tape". I don't understand why ordinary folks won't support background checks and and want laws and policies that make it as hard as possible for people who aren't fit to carry firearms, to gain access to them.

    OP started a thread about what you/we as nurses can do to help keep patients safe, and the first response she got, was a quote from a former NRA spokesman.
  2. by   akulahawkRN
    Quote from pixierose
    "Sacrifice the lives of school children on the alter of your personal freedom" - well put, and spot on. My father in law is a gun owner who has the whole "it's my right and you can pry my guns from my cold, dead hands" mantra going on. How many school shootings do we need to have? How many mass shootings do we need to have?

    My impression was that the 2nd amendment was put in place back in the days when military militia marching into homes was a concern ... in 1791. To protect the rights of the states to maintain and arm those militias.

    Didn't know such federal tyranny was such a problem nowadays.

    The 2nd amendment was never intended to make it a right to carry any weapon whatsoever for any purpose whatsoever. Personal possession was never the main focus. With that in mind, an unlimited individual right to bear any kind and/or number of weapons can not, and should not, be interpreted from the context of the 2nd amendment.

    America's gun culture is seriously so far out of whack that people, including my father in law, need to take a serious step back. There is a balance somewhere. Why does anyone need a device that allows bullets to be fired at 400 rounds/minute? Guns can protect. Guns also destroy.
    The Second Amendment was put into place to allow the populace to be armed with exactly the same arms of the military because the populace was the military. Personal possession was expected and was the norm. Because the populace owned the same weapons as the military, including artillery, it made creation and arming of armies very, very simple and easy. The Second Amendment protects an individual right. Over time, certain arms have been restricted from the public. For example, we do restrict the possession of nuclear weapons. People can, in many states, legally own and possess machine guns. The process to acquire them is quite lengthy. Because of this, very few legally owned machine guns have been used in a criminal act. Any criminal act. In fact, exactly ONE was... and that was by a police officer who committed a single murder with his some 35 years ago.

    During WW2 the military noticed that they had to start a more in-depth marksmanship program to teach soldiers how to shoot. This is because until then, most men entering the service did have some reasonably good ability to shoot firearms, in particular, rifles.

    The cyclic rate of a firearm is a red-herring. Ammunition is expensive. The faster you pull the trigger, the faster you shoot, the (usually) less accurate you are. Shoot a LOT and it becomes too expensive. Responsible gun owners follow the rules and don't fire indiscriminately, no matter what weapon they have. I also have a license to carry. People that have those licenses are actually far more law-abiding than law enforcement. It's a sad but true fact.

    Criminals tend to not follow laws. Certain ones do tend to fire indiscriminately. They don't acquire their weapons normally nor the ammo for their weapons. They go for reliable weapons but most don't know "the basics." When packed up in gangs, that's when they go do their stupid stuff... and most of that is concentrated in certain specific areas of the US. Outside of those areas, the crime rates are actually quite low.
  3. by   akulahawkRN
    Quote from macawake

    Do you seriously think that the Las Vegas shooter could have murdered 58 people and left 851 people injured if he had been armed with a rock or a baseball bat? Or even a car?
    One of the biggest single death events in the US happened because someone used a bomb... look up Oklahoma City.
  4. by   macawake
    Quote from akulahawkRN
    One of the biggest single death events in the US happened because someone used a bomb... look up Oklahoma City.
    Oh, I used to study crap like domestic terrorism. I wasn't a nurse when that bombing took place, so I'm aware. Not sure why you bring it up though, surely you realize that I'm not advocating that civilians use bombs for self-defense or encouraging their use among those of the criminal persuasion?


    Criminologically speaking bombers tend to be a different breed than mass shooters.
  5. by   pixierose
    Quote from akulahawkRN
    The Second Amendment was put into place to allow the populace to be armed with exactly the same arms of the military because the populace was the military. Personal possession was expected and was the norm. Because the populace owned the same weapons as the military, including artillery, it made creation and arming of armies very, very simple and easy. The Second Amendment protects an individual right. Over time, certain arms have been restricted from the public. For example, we do restrict the possession of nuclear weapons. People can, in many states, legally own and possess machine guns. The process to acquire them is quite lengthy. Because of this, very few legally owned machine guns have been used in a criminal act. Any criminal act. In fact, exactly ONE was... and that was by a police officer who committed a single murder with his some 35 years ago.

    During WW2 the military noticed that they had to start a more in-depth marksmanship program to teach soldiers how to shoot. This is because until then, most men entering the service did have some reasonably good ability to shoot firearms, in particular, rifles.

    The cyclic rate of a firearm is a red-herring. Ammunition is expensive. The faster you pull the trigger, the faster you shoot, the (usually) less accurate you are. Shoot a LOT and it becomes too expensive. Responsible gun owners follow the rules and don't fire indiscriminately, no matter what weapon they have. I also have a license to carry. People that have those licenses are actually far more law-abiding than law enforcement. It's a sad but true fact.

    Criminals tend to not follow laws. Certain ones do tend to fire indiscriminately. They don't acquire their weapons normally nor the ammo for their weapons. They go for reliable weapons but most don't know "the basics." When packed up in gangs, that's when they go do their stupid stuff... and most of that is concentrated in certain specific areas of the US. Outside of those areas, the crime rates are actually quite low.
    Last post before I get too far off track from the OP ...

    The whole idea behind the 2nd Amendment was to put ordinary, everyday citizens on equal footing to that of the government when it came to arming themselves.

    So since you mentioned nuclear weapons ... Today, the government has access to nuclear weapons. True 2nd Amendment advocates then would also have to advocate for nuclear weapons to be made available to all American citizens in order for the Second Amendment to have the same meaning and effect today as it did the day it was ratified.

    At least, to me it would. I mean, a gun versus nuclear weapon = government wins.

    And the 2nd amendment, both in 1791 and in 2008 (in the Heller case) was interpreted as self defense ... within the home.

    As for criminals not following laws ... in most mass shootings (i.e., Vegas, Charleston, Aurora) they very much purchased their guns legally. They passed their background checks. The man who killed my uncle in a grocery hold up also very much purchased that gun legally. This is very much a blanket statement.

    It's sad and horrifying that, as a mother of two high schoolers, I'm waiting for "when," not "if" for their lives to be touched by gun violence.

    I think a shooting is a pretty damn big violation of my basic rights, myself.
    Last edit by pixierose on Dec 5
  6. by   nursebert
    Quote from pixierose
    "Sacrifice the lives of school children on the alter of your personal freedom" - well put, and spot on. My father in law is a gun owner who has the whole "it's my right and you can pry my guns from my cold, dead hands" mantra going on. How many school shootings do we need to have? How many mass shootings do we need to have?

    My impression was that the 2nd amendment was put in place back in the days when military militia marching into homes was a concern ... in 1791. To protect the rights of the states to maintain and arm those militias.

    Didn't know such federal tyranny was such a problem nowadays.

    The 2nd amendment was never intended to make it a right to carry any weapon whatsoever for any purpose whatsoever. Personal possession was never the main focus. With that in mind, an unlimited individual right to bear any kind and/or number of weapons can not, and should not, be interpreted from the context of the 2nd amendment.

    America's gun culture is seriously so far out of whack that people, including my father in law, need to take a serious step back. There is a balance somewhere. Why does anyone need a device that allows bullets to be fired at 400 rounds/minute? Guns can protect. Guns also destroy.
    Well stated.
  7. by   OldDude
    Quote from akulahawkRN
    As has been commented above, there's a LOT of political "stuff" surrounding the firearm issue. There's much to be said from both sides that are worthy of discussion and debate. However, in the United States, the right of the people to keep and bear arms is enshrined in the Constitution and protects an ability of the people to own and carry arms for the purpose of self defense. This is not something that is common around the world. In the US, we have a culture of individualism and self-reliance. While this does have impacts in other areas of our lives, it also means that in the US, we are primarily responsible for our own safety and security. The Government is only responsible for the safety and security of society as a whole. You, the individual, are disposable, if it means making sure that a threat to society is contained. That is not to say they won't attempt to rescue you from the situation, but they must first contain the threat.

    In the context of mass shootings, they want to limit the avenues of escape of the shooter. Current doctrine is that law enforcement will also go actively hunting for the shooter. This has the effect of limiting the number of deaths and injuries. If they cannot actively go hunting, they'll surround and contain while the shooter continues shooting, until they're able to make entry and go hunting. What has been shown over and over again is that the number of deaths and injuries are reduced when a "good guy" with a gun (civilian OR law enforcement) actively confronts an active shooter. Most "good guy" types aren't looking to be heroes and aren't looking for fame and whatnot. They're looking to survive. They want to get home to their family. The vast majority of people that do carry their weapons in public aren't a threat to anyone and everyone around them are actually safer, though they do not know it. Bad guy types know this too. This is why most mass shootings occur in places where guns are restricted as the bad guys know they won't be impeded. Again, this is shown to be the case over and over again.

    Where things get tough is because we have such an enshrined and protected right, we also open ourselves up to the possibility of people misusing the firearms. People do use them to commit suicide. People do also commit suicide in other ways too but those ways are usually slower and are usually easier to reverse if detected in time. Suicides aren't usually a violent event and even when someone shoots themselves, it shouldn't be considered a death by violence. What we have in the US, and around the world (and worse in many nations and regions) is a violence problem. Humans often attempt to impose their will upon others by use of force. That's violence. The means by which we do this is often by firearms. It's not the only way. Fists, clubs, knives, arrows, bombs, poisons, and the like are all ways we do this to each other. Sometimes it's by government sanction, sometimes it's because an individual or a small group wants something from another. If we can solve the violence problem, then we humans won't have to worry about weapons because the underlying need to use them against each other will be gone. Utopian dream, I know!

    When we restrict the means by which violence can be imposed upon another, we don't stop the violence, we just change the way it's expressed.

    My advice is very simple. Don't rely on statistics pulled together by most organizations. To a degree, trust the governmental information. There are university established/funded study centers that will try to persuade you one way or another.

    What can we, as nurses do? Most of what we can do is summed up very well above and I'll repost here:
    • Educate patients about the risks inherent in having a gun in their home. It's particularly important to speak to parents of young children about safe storage of all firearms.
    • Connect patients with mental health concerns to services as quickly as possible. Many patients have mental health needs that if left unattended can quickly lead to violence towards themselves or others.
    • Participate in violence prevention and intervention programs at your hospital or facility. None of us want to discuss or consider that a shooting could happen at our workplace, but unfortunately, the risk is real.
    • Write to your elected officials to make your viewpoints on the issues known.
    • Advocate for more research to be done to increase our understanding of homicide, suicide, and those who commit both.

    Education is key. While there are inherent risks in having guns at home, safe storage is a MUST when young kids are around. It's also a MUST when you have someone in the home that's not safe around them. I carry nearly daily. I do not give my wife access to my firearms because I cannot trust her with them. She doesn't trust herself with them so I don't have to worry about her getting one on her own. My kid has unfettered, but not unsupervised, access. Because of this, and lots of safety education that I have provided, there's no mystery about them and therefore no curiosity either.

    Most people with mental illness aren't actually a danger to anyone, regardless if they've got access to firearms. While I'm not an advocate for "red flag" laws because of the potential for abuse if incorrectly implemented, they can be of use in certain situations. Here in California, we have the 5150. I'm not a fan of what this does to firearm rights. Because of the way it's implemented, I think it actually does a big disservice to people that need psychiatric care. A person should be able to seek acute inpatient mental health treatment without an impact on their rights (any of them). This would (hopefully) prompt people that are gun owners to seek the care they need before they decompensate and become a danger to themselves or to others. Regardless, try to get people steered towards appropriate mental health before a problem becomes worse. I've advocated for this many times.

    More research does need to be done, in a non-biased, non-political way to increase our understanding of violence toward others and our understanding of suicide. The tool used is of less consequence... fix the underlying problem and it won't matter what tools are available.

    Seriously, remember that the gun isn't the problem. It's an inanimate object that some people have come to focus upon as the cause of violence. In other countries where guns are highly restricted, knives are now the focus. Neither are actually the cause of violence towards others. Reduction of violence itself is where we need to focus. Reduction of suicide is also an area to focus on. We do that and we won't have to worry about the "how" because we'll have limited the "why" something happens.
    Well done!! Well done!!
  8. by   Kyrshamarks
    Quote from hherrn
    oh yeah- like charlton heston, the actor. That was awesomely dramatic when he said that.

    But are you saying that if any of your guns become illegal to own, you will get into a firefight with a law enforcement officer carrying out his sworn duties?


    Or do you just like that quote?

    Just curious.
    Btw- gun owner here. Loaded and accessible 357 in my house as i write.
    i. Will. Not. Give. Up. My. Guns. Any of them to anyone.
  9. by   OldDude
    Quote from macawake
    ...As a European I really don't understand...
    I agree with you.
  10. by   akulahawkRN
    Quote from pixierose
    Last post before I get too far off track from the OP ...

    The whole idea behind the 2nd Amendment was to put ordinary, everyday citizens on equal footing to that of the government when it came to arming themselves.

    So since you mentioned nuclear weapons ... Today, the government has access to nuclear weapons. True 2nd Amendment advocates then would also have to advocate for nuclear weapons to be made available to all American citizens in order for the Second Amendment to have the same meaning and effect today as it did the day it was ratified.

    At least, to me it would. I mean, a gun versus nuclear weapon = government wins.

    And the 2nd amendment, both in 1791 and in 2008 (in the Heller case) was interpreted as self defense ... within the home.

    As for criminals not following laws ... in most mass shootings (i.e., Vegas, Charleston, Aurora) they very much purchased their guns legally. They passed their background checks. The man who killed my uncle in a grocery hold up also very much purchased that gun legally. This is very much a blanket statement.

    It's sad and horrifying that, as a mother of two high schoolers, I'm waiting for "when," not "if" for their lives to be touched by gun violence.

    I think a shooting is a pretty damn big violation of my basic rights, myself.
    Actually, the Heller case and the McDonald case both hold the Second Amendment protects the right to self defense most notably, but not limited to, the home. Neither decision foreclosed the right of self defense OUTSIDE the home.

    In most mass shootings, the signs of significant trouble were there but ignored. It's reasonably rare for a person to commit these things "out of the blue." The Aurora shooting, for example, the shooter was considered as a potential danger to others. Had he been committed, he would have been barred from owning/acquiring firearms. The Thousand Oaks shooter similarly was considered for a psych hold. The Charleston shooter shouldn't have passed his background check but certain information wasn't added to the NCIC file, so the NICS check couldn't "see" the info that disqualified him. The Vegas shooter is still a mystery. The Texas church shooter should also have been similarly barred but for an administrative problem that kept information from the NCIC/NICS systems.

    It does get quite interesting once you step back and start looking at system issues. Not all states report all their info about people to the system so the system has incomplete data when it comes to doing background checks. This incomplete data inappropriately has approved or barred firearm purchases. The system is flawed and does need to be fixed, and parts of it actually have been. It won't be perfect, but at least the background check system will get better as improved data is added.
  11. by   rzyzzy
    The logical failure here is quoting "studies" done by biased, rabidly anti-gun organizations. The Brady center was initially organized as "handgun control inc".

    You're never going to find middle-ground by quoting anti-gun zealots as reliable sources, then vilifying those that quote the NRA.

    The 2nd amendment is way more important now than at any time in our country's previous history. We have at both the state and federal level- government that doesn't want to follow the law. Presidents, governors & legislators who actively subvert the will of the people by gerrymandering, over-ruling voters & trying to kneecap their successors when they lose elections.

    You have for-profit prisons holding a higher percentage of the population in prison than Russia under Stalin, and for-profit policing that takes more property from citizens via seizure than criminals do via theft or robbery. Think about that.

    Further, without a frank discussion about what happens when you try to separate the 400 million firearms from the 100 million Americans who lawfully own them, you're engaging in the silliest form of mental masturbation. The cat doesn't go back in the bag without leaving claw marks on the country.

    If you think 10,000 intentional deaths a year by firearms is bad, think about what happens to an unarmed population under a totalitarian government.
  12. by   cec0007
    All of akulahawkRN's post is excellent, but I'd especially like to quote this part of it:
    Quote from akulahawkRN
    ,,,
    More research does need to be done, in a non-biased, non-political way to increase our understanding of violence toward others and our understanding of suicide. The tool used is of less consequence... fix the underlying problem and it won't matter what tools are available.

    Seriously, remember that the gun isn't the problem. It's an inanimate object that some people have come to focus upon as the cause of violence. In other countries where guns are highly restricted, knives are now the focus. Neither are actually the cause of violence towards others. Reduction of violence itself is where we need to focus. Reduction of suicide is also an area to focus on. We do that and we won't have to worry about the "how" because we'll have limited the "why" something happens.
    This is the crux; the problem is not the gun, and there is no reason to try to take guns away from those who are doing nothing illegal with them. That is not the solution to gun violence of any type.

    In countries where a gun is seldom used for suicide, jumping off bridges is a favored way. Some bridges are famous for it. People also seem to like to step in front of trains, even in the US. I'm not sure how that is any better.

    The reality in the USA is that literally hundreds of millions of guns are already owned by its citizens; so many that getting rid of them (even if that were desirable and constitutional, which it is not) is impossible and will never happen. (Ever heard of Prohibition?) The anti-Second Amendment people can wish forever, but realistically it's not happening, especially for criminals who would get them regardless. And it wouldn't solve the problem of violence even if it could be done.

    (I just asked Alexa; she said 359,081,400 guns in the US, that she knows of, of course. I'll take her word for it.)

    In fact, it's notable, considering the sheer number of guns in the US, that many more deaths involving their use DON'T occur. That's because it's not the guns, folks.

    There have been several instances recently of using cargo trucks to mow down innocent people in Europe. Obviously trucks aren't the problem. Now some countries are working hard to eliminate knives, even kitchen knives. News flash: Knives aren't the problem, either, and it's.not.going.to.work.

    In any society there will always be some risk from the criminal element. It's unavoidable. A few years ago a German pilot decided to commit suicide and take the commercial airliner down with him, killing all on board. That was not the first time a commercial pilot has chosen to crash a plane. The disappearance of the Malaysian airliner is believed by many experts to have been intentionally done by one of the pilots, with the loss of all on board. Sadly, tragic as they all are, I don't know how we eliminate such things. Outlaw airline travel? No. Many more people, including children, die on our highways, often because someone acted illegally, than are murdered by all methods combined. Should we try to reduce the death toll? Of course, but not by making driving or owning vehicles illegal. Punish only those who have broken the laws.


    Which brings me to the rest of macawake's post, parts of which have surprised me. Apparently he or she greatly misunderstands US gun laws. We're actually in agreement on these things:

    Quote from macawake
    ,,,
    How many people actually support gun control laws that completely deny a law abiding citizen the right to own a gun?
    Can you pass a background check and are you otherwise emotionally and physically equipped to handle a firearm in a safe manner?
    If you can and are, I personally don't see a problem for you or anyone else who meets those criteria, to own a gun.


    The question isn't whether you should be allowed to drive a car despite the fact that other people get DUIs. The question is if a person who's been convicted of his or her third DUI has a sacred right to keep their driver's license and keep on driving.
    ,,,
    Apparently a certain number actually support that very thing, which is what we legal gun owners can't understand. I'm glad to hear that you're not one of the supporters.

    Yes, I have and yes, I can. I'm glad you don't see a problem with those like me owning guns. Those are the same people that I--and others--don't have a problem with, either! We do meet your criteria. Practically no one advocates that non-law-abiding people be allowed to own guns.
    Where did you ever get such a strange misconception?

    You may be happy to learn that passing a federal background check is required before purchasing any new gun in every state. It's federal law. "Straw purchases" (purchasing for another person) are illegal. When purchasing a used gun from anyone, it is illegal to sell to a prohibited person and it is illegal for a prohibited person to buy a gun. Some states have additional requirements and hoops to jump through. Many states have additional requirements before one can carry a gun outside the home. Some states or cities are ridiculously prohibitive. Chicago is one of the most restrictive. Compare their murder rate.

    Again, no one wants convicted criminals, even those convicted one time, much less three times, to have a "sacred right" to own guns. Where did you get that notion?

    We are in agreement on these things!

    What remains is how to eliminate the desire and determination to commit violence or suicide. There is no simple answer.
  13. by   hherrn
    Quote from Kyrshamarks
    i. Will. Not. Give. Up. My. Guns. Any of them to anyone.
    That? Wasn't? My? Question?

    When Charlton Heston made that quote famous, he was an actor playing the part of a zealot willing to die for what he finds sacred- his guns. There is no reason to think he was sincere- much like the person who played The Wicked Witch wasn't really a witch.

    So, in your scenario, where you get to be the martyr for the noble cause, you die in a firefight. Presumably with the police. So, you are ready to die to keep your gattling gun or armor piercing bullets or whatever. Are you willing to kill a police officer over it? Or, in this scenario do you just go down in a hail of bullets, lovingly clutching your weapon- kind of a suicide by cop deal. You do realize that is what that particular meme means, right?

    This is just rhetorical- I realize the character you play on line isn't going To. Give. A. Straight. Answer.

    That whole punctuation thing really works for emphasis- thanks.

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