Guns in the Academic Literature

October 2014

“In conclusion, this article is the first to our knowledge to report that a higher proportion of household gun ownership at the state level is associated with statistically significant increased rates of nonstranger total and firearm homicides. By contrast, we found no robust, statistically significant association between household gun ownership and stranger homicides. Our findings thus challenge the argument that gun ownership deters violent crime, in particular, homicides.”

American Journal of Public Health, 104(10), 1912–9*


December 2002

“Across the nine regions for the early 1990s (n = 9), household handgun ownership rates are positively correlated with the suicide rate (r = 0.59) and are not correlated with either the lifetime prevalence of major depression or suicidal thoughts. After controlling for major depression and suicidal thoughts (and any of the four additional control variables), handgun ownership rates remain significantly associated with the overall suicide rate.”

Injury Prevention, 8, 313–316*


July 2004

“Individual-level studies (n=4) are reviewed that investigate the risks and benefits of owning a personal or household firearm. The research suggests that households with firearms are at higher risk for homicide, and there is no net beneficial effect of firearm ownership.

“Two groups of ecological studies are reviewed, those comparing multiple countries and those focused solely on the United States. Results from the cross-sectional international studies (n=7) typically show that in high-income countries with more firearms, both men and women are at higher risk for homicide, particularly firearm homicide.

“Time series (n=10) and cross-sectional studies (n=9) of U.S. cities, states, and regions and for the United States as a whole, generally find a statistically significant gun prevalence–homicide association. None of the studies prove causation, but the available evidence is consistent with the hypothesis that increased gun prevalence increases the homicide rate.”

Aggression and Violent Behavior, 9(4), 417–440*


November 2013

•There is no evidence for the ‘more guns less crime’ position.

•Guns facilitate suicides or homicides and increase the risk of violent death.

•It is the lethality of the weapon that is responsible.

•The idea that guns serve a protective function is an illusion.

Aggression and Violent Behavior, 18(6), 709–721*


March 2002

“Between 1988 and 1997, the suicide, homicide, and unintentional firearm death rates among women were disproportionately higher in states where guns were more prevalent. The elevated rates of violent death in states with more guns was not entirely explained by a state’s poverty or urbanization and was driven primarily by lethal firearm violence, not by lethal nonfirearm violence.”

Journal of Urban Health, 79(1), 26–38*


December 2000

“Among developed nations, the United States has the highest rate of civilian gun ownership, and the highest homicide rate. We examine whether the United States is merely an exception, or if a relationship between gun availability and homicide exists across all developed nations.

“In simple regressions (no control variables) across 26 high-income nations, there is a strong and statistically significant association between gun availability and homicide rates.

“Conclusion: Across developed countries, where guns are more available, there are more homicides.”

Journal of Trauma-Injury Infection & Critical Care 49(6), 985–988*


May 1993

“Positive correlations were obtained between the rates of household gun ownership and the national rates of homicide and suicide as well as the proportions of homicides and suicides committed with a gun.”

Canadian Medical Association Journal, 148(10), 1721–1725*


June 2006

“Over the 22 year study period household firearm ownership rates declined across all four regions. In multivariate analyses, each 10% decline in household firearm ownership was associated with significant declines in rates of firearm suicide, 4.2% (95% CI 2.3% to 6.1%) and overall suicide, 2.5% (95% CI 1.4% to 3.6%). Changes in non-firearm suicide were not associated with changes in firearm ownership.

“The magnitude of the association between changes in household firearm ownership and changes in rates of firearm and overall suicide was greatest for children: for each 10% decline in the percentage of households with firearms and children, the rate of firearm suicide among children 0–19 years of age dropped 8.3% (95% CI 6.1% to 10.5%) and the rate of overall suicide dropped 4.1% (2.3% to 5.9%).”

Injury Prevention, 12, 178–182.*


January 2011

“The US homicide rates were 6.9 times higher than rates in the other high-income countries, driven by firearm homicide rates that were 19.5 times higher. For 15-year olds to 24-year olds, firearm homicide rates in the United States were 42.7 times higher than in the other countries. For US males, firearm homicide rates were 22.0 times higher, and for US females, firearm homicide rates were 11.4 times higher. The US firearm suicide rates were 5.8 times higher than in the other countries, though overall suicide rates were 30% lower. The US unintentional firearm deaths were 5.2 times higher than in the other countries.

“Among these 23 countries, 80% of all firearm deaths occurred in the United States, 86% of women killed by firearms were US women, and 87% of all children aged 0 to 14 killed by firearms were US children.”

Journal of Trauma-Injury Infection & Critical Care, 70(1), 238–243*


April 2007

“Household firearm ownership levels are strongly associated with higher rates of suicide, consistent with the hypothesis that the availability of lethal means increases the rate of completed suicide.”

Journal of Trauma-Injury Infection & Critical Care, 62(4), 1029–1035*


October 2013

“The number of guns per capita per country was a strong and independent predictor of firearm-related death in a given country, whereas the predictive power of the mental illness burden was of borderline significance in a multivariable model. Regardless of exact cause and effect, however, the current study debunks the widely quoted hypothesis that guns make a nation safer.”

The American Journal of Medicine, 126(10), 873–876*


February 2002

“A statistically significant association exists between gun availability and the rates of unintentional firearm deaths, homicides, and suicides. The elevated rates of suicide and homicide among children living in states with more guns is not entirely explained by a state’s poverty, education, or urbanization and is driven by lethal firearm violence, not by lethal nonfirearm violence.”

Journal of Trauma-Injury Infection & Critical Care, 52(2), 267–275*


November 2004

“Those persons with guns in the home were at greater risk than those without guns in the home of dying from a homicide in the home (adjusted odds ratio = 1.9, 95% confidence interval: 1.1, 3.4). They were also at greater risk of dying from a firearm homicide, but risk varied by age and whether the person was living with others at the time of death.

“The risk of dying from a suicide in the home was greater for males in homes with guns than for males without guns in the home (adjusted odds ratio = 10.4, 95% confidence interval: 5.8, 18.9). Persons with guns in the home were also more likely to have died from suicide committed with a firearm than from one committed by using a different method (adjusted odds ratio = 31.1, 95% confidence interval: 19.5, 49.6).

“Results show that regardless of storage practice, type of gun, or number of firearms in the home, having a gun in the home was associated with an increased risk of firearm homicide and firearm suicide in the home.”

American Journal of Epidemiology, 160(10), 929–936*


Spring 2002

“Among high-income countries, where firearms are more available, more women are homicide victims. Women in the United States are at higher risk of homicide victimization than are women in any other high-income country.”

Journal of the American Medical Women’s Association, 57(2), 100–104.*


October 2001

“This paper uses a unique data set to demonstrate that increases in gun ownership lead to substantial increases in the overall homicide rate.”

Journal of Political Economy, 109(5), 1086–1114*


October 1993

“As compared with the controls, the victims more often lived alone or rented their residence. Also, case households more commonly contained an illicit-drug user, a person with prior arrests, or someone who had been hit or hurt in a fight in the home. After controlling for these characteristics, we found that keeping a gun in the home was strongly and independently associated with an increased risk of homicide.”

The New England Journal of Medicine, 329, 1084–1091*


August 2004

“Although the current study cannot determine causation, firearm mortality in its various forms is most commonly related to the prevalence of firearms and the percent of the population that is African American.”

Journal of Community Health, 29(4), 271–283*


“We observed a robust correlation between higher levels of gun ownership and higher firearm homicide rates. Although we could not determine causation, we found that states with higher rates of gun ownership had disproportionately large numbers of deaths from firearm-related homicides.”

American Journal of Public Health, 103(11), 2098–2105*

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