Living with a handgun owner greatly elevates the risk of dying by homicide

The 11 percent of Americans who don’t personally own a gun but live with someone who does are seven times more likely to die from a gunshot inflicted by a spouse or intimate partner.

Although personal protection is a major motivation for purchasing firearms, people living in homes with guns have a much higher risk of dying by homicide.

“While many National Rifle Association members and Second Amendment advocates regard firearms as both an important crime deterrent and reliable source of protection, guns do not have to be in the hands of criminals for them to cause damage,” said Lisa McCormick. “Those risks land heavily among innocent household members.”

“Despite widespread perceptions that a gun in the home provides security benefits, nearly all credible studies to date suggest that people who live in homes with guns are at higher — not lower — risk of dying by homicide,” said the study’s lead author, David Studdert, LLB, ScD, a professor of health policy at the Stanford University School of Medicine and a professor at Stanford Law School.

People living in homes with firearms have a much higher risk of dying from homicide.

The simple truth is that purposely inflicted homicides are more likely to result from domestic and interpersonal disputes, than from conflicts over land resources, gang wars over turf or control, predatory violence or killing by armed groups.

That is why the more guns available the more murders are committed. Keeping a gun for personal safety is one surefire way to get shot or kill someone in anger.

A study funded by the National Collaborative on Gun Violence Research found that people who live with a handgun owner—but don’t themselves own a gun—are nearly twice as likely to die by homicide than those living in gun-free homes.

Women—who make up two-thirds of those who live with handgun owners—faced especially high chances of being fatally shot at home by their spouse or intimate partner.

Women—who make up two-thirds of those who live with handgun owners—face especially high chances of being fatally shot at home by their spouse or intimate partner.

Overall homicide rates were more than twice as high among people who resided with handgun owners than among Americans who do not live with firearms owners.

Among homicides occurring at home, people who reside with gun owners were seven times as likely to be fatally shot by a spouse or intimate partner; and 84 percent of those victims were women.

Although there are enough guns in circulation for every U.S. resident to have one, only 25 percent of American adults actually own firearms.

According to Gallup’s latest data on Americans’ gun ownership, 32 percent of U.S. adults said they personally owned a gun in 2020, while 44 percent of those surveyed report living in a household with a gun in their home or elsewhere on their property.

The share of the population living in a household with a firearm varies significantly among the states. In Montana, about 65 percent of adults live in a household with a firearm, but in New Jersey and Hawaii, only eight percent do.

States with the highest murder rates typically were among those with the greatest household gun ownership rates. Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Missouri all have household gun ownership rates of around 50 percent.

Nationally, gun ownership rates have dropped from about 46 percent in 1990 to just 32 percent today, a period when murder rates fell from 9.71 in 1990 to 5.01 in 2018.

A rise in U.S. firearm homicides in recent years has primarily affected states in the South-Central and Midwest portion of the nation, where states commonly have Republican leadership that has advanced weaker gun laws and fewer regulations.

Another study—the largest ever on the connection between suicide and handgun ownership, which was published in The New England Journal of Medicine—revealed that gun owners were nearly four times more likely to die by suicide than people without guns, even when controlling for gender, age, race, and neighborhood.

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