A person with a gun is nearly twice as likely to get murdered than others, but also three times as likely to take his or her own life.
Investigators from the University of California at San Francisco reviewed 15 studies on the subject of gun violence in America, excluding survey data to focus on more specific information from academic inquiries. Thirteen of the studies were conducted in the United States, with seven occurring after a 1996 federal law — a Clinton/Dole compromise — that banned the U.S. Health Department from funding research that might promote gun control.
Essentially, the team found a higher prevalence of gun ownership in the U.S. than anywhere in the world, with an estimated 31,000 annual deaths from firearms. Among those with access to a gun, including gun owners and others in a household, men were four times as likely to commit suicide than others, while women were nearly three times as likely to be a gunshot victim.
"Our analysis shows that having access to firearms is a significant risk factor for men committing suicide and for women being victims of homicide," Andrew Anglemyer, an expert in study design and data analytics in clinical pharmacy, said in a university press release ahead of the study's publication on Monday. "Since empirical data suggest that most victims of homicide know their assailants, the higher risk for women strongly indicates domestic violence."
In a statement that typically draws scorn from gun rights advocates, the investigator asserted that “firearms play a significant role in both suicide and homicide,” accounting for more than half of all suicides and two-thirds of homicides, according to a 16-state survey in 2009 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to the review, 75 percent of suicides occurred at home, while a similar percentage of women victimized by homicide die at home. For men, approximately 45 percent of homicide victims are killed at home.
In response to such gun violence statistics, some opponents of gun control compare the study of gun violence to transportation, arguing that one might find an association between cars and traffic accidents. Indeed, the investigators here pointedly assert they make no conclusions about the associations between violent gunshot deaths and the location of firearms in the household, merely finding a link between gunshot deaths and access to firearms.
Moreover, the team also adjusted the study to account for gunshot victims with mental illness and a history of domestic violence or criminality, noting that overall study results didn’t change significantly. Simply put: More guns means more gunshot deaths. Interestingly, the lone study in the review not finding a significant increase in gun deaths from access to weaponry was conducted in New Zealand, a country with stricter gun regulations than the U.S.
According to the CDC, some 22,500 Americans died of homicides by gun between 2009-2010, while more than 38,000 Americans comitted suicide by gun.
Source: Anglemyer, Andrew. Access To Guns Increases Risk Of Suicide, Homicide. Annals Of Internal Medicine. 2014.