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Guns in the home - A dangerous situation

ATLANTA, GEORGIA. Homicides and suicides are among the leading causes of death in the USA and 60% of them are committed with a firearm. Despite several studies demonstrating an association between the access to firearms and homicides/suicides, it is estimated that about 40% of all American adults keep a gun at home.

A recent study carried out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms that having a firearm at home markedly increases the risk of a violent death occurring in the home. A total of 2074 death certificates (490 homicides, 1049 suicides, and 535 "other") were obtained and proxy interviews were conducted with the deceased individual's next of kin or another person familiar with the deceased's life history. Results showed that a firearm was used in 68% of homicides and suicides, and having a gun in the home was associated with an increased risk of firearm homicide and firearm suicide in the home regardless of storage practice, type of gun, or number of firearms. Gun owners had a 90% greater risk of dying from a homicide in the home and they were also at greater risk of dying from a firearm homicide than were non-owners. Over ¾ of homicide victims knew their assailant, and almost a third of homicides occurred during a family argument.

Men with a gun in the home were 10 times more likely to commit suicide than were men without and persons with firearms in the home who committed suicide were 31 times more likely to have done so using a gun rather than another method. The researchers conclude that having a firearm at home is associated with a greater risk of a homicide/suicide taking place in the home.
Dahlberg, LL, et al. Guns in the home and risk of a violent death in the home: findings from a national study. American Journal of Epidemiology, Vol. 160, November 15, 2004, pp. 929-36

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