New York, NY — A new study has revealed that Americans who are gun owners have a greater risk of being killed by someone who is not a member of their own household.
In the study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, researchers analyzed data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) and found that people who reported a household gun ownership rate of 10% or higher had a 44% greater risk for being killed than people who were not gun owners.
They were also much more likely to have a lifetime risk of death from unintentional injury than people with a firearm ownership rate below 6%.
“This is a pretty big finding,” said Dr. Steven Pinker, who led the research.
“It’s the first study to show that gun ownership has an effect on risk of suicide, and that gun owners are about two times more likely than non-gun owners to be killed by another person.”
The findings have important implications for public policy because they suggest that it is irresponsible for Americans to ignore the risk that gun possession has on the nation’s safety.
“The American people are at the top of their game, and there’s a lot of things they can do to improve their safety,” said Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire New York mayor and a frequent critic of gun control measures.
“But there’s also a lot we can do that has nothing to do with them.”
The research comes as a recent spate of mass shootings has pushed gun control advocates to reconsider their stance on gun control, and many people are now arguing that the only way to keep guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them is to limit the number of guns in circulation.
“A lot of people who want to restrict guns don’t even understand the risks,” said David L. Katz, an associate professor of public health at Harvard Medical School and a leading authority on gun violence.
“The way to reduce the risk of violence is to make people understand the risk, not just what the risk is.
That’s what I’ve learned.
This is not an easy thing to do, but if we want to prevent this kind of thing, we have to make the right policy.”
The researchers used data from 2,000 adolescents who completed the Add Health, a nationally representative survey of more than 5,000 high school students, to compare their risk of dying from suicide with their risk when they were a member or parent of a household with a gun.
The data, which were collected between 1991 and 2001, included detailed information about demographic, psychological, and physical characteristics, and gun ownership status.
The researchers examined the results of the Add Heart study and found the following:A gun owned household had a 29% greater chance of killing someone in the household than a household without a gun, and a gun owned family had a 17% greater likelihood of killing a household member.
When compared to people who did not own guns, gun owners were significantly more likely (34%) to have had a lifetime suicide attempt, a suicide attempt that was prevented by medical intervention.
The risk of a suicide was increased by almost sixfold for gun owners compared to those who did, and the risk was even greater for those who were gun owners who had children.
Gun ownership in families with children was associated with a lifetime increase in suicide attempts and a lifetime decrease in self-harm attempts, but the association was small.
People who owned guns were also more likely in general to report being bullied or having experienced abuse in childhood.
Gun owners also reported having higher levels of mental illness, higher levels that were a factor in suicidal thoughts and attempts, and higher levels than nonowners of anxiety disorders and substance abuse.
People in households with guns were more likely also to have used drugs in the past year.
The authors found that gun owner households were much more prone to having a history of psychiatric disorders than were nonowner households, and for substance use disorders, suicide attempts, substance abuse, and depression.
“This study shows that guns in households have a very, very high risk of causing death,” said Katz.
“This is not to say that we should just close the gun store door, but we should be talking about this and being more aware of this.”
Katz is now working on a follow-up study that examines the impact of gun ownership on gun suicide rates in states that do not require background checks on all gun sales.
The study was funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Michael and Irene Knight Foundation, and several foundations.