News: The wide and easy availability of guns is a contentious issue in the United States and in some other countries. Many people believe that owning a gun makes them and their household safer. The firearms industry has long promoted this idea–to encourage the sale of guns, ammunition, and gun accessories … so it’s not surprising that many people believe it. Proponents of this idea cite anecdotal evidence in support–of people with guns thwarting robberies and assaults. But, more comprehensive evidence has been hard to come by for many reasons–not the least of which was the partisan Dickey Amendment from the U.S. Congress in 1996 and subsequent lack of funding to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control plus other political moves to discourage firearms research.
However, difficult as it is and has been, there is data out there for the United States (especially for individual states) and other countries. What those numbers tell us is the following:
- “At the individual level, the statistical facts are unambiguous … those households that own guns run higher risks of seeing their members being criminally victimized, either by other household members or by outsiders.”
- At the country level, there is a statistically significant correlation “between ownership levels of handguns and rates of victimization by gun-related contact crimes, gun-related threats, and assaults and homicides.”
- “High availability [of guns] raises the stakes of violent crime and exacerbates its medical and mental impact on victims.”
- “Gun ownership has been found to be a powerful, independent risk-enhancing factor.”
So, what does this all mean?
Owning a gun, having it in your home, and carrying a gun does not protect you from violent crime. In fact, owning a gun, having it in your home, and carrying a gun makes it more likely that you will be a victim of violent crime.
The gun industry wants to sell you their products and, like all sellers, provides a supporting narrative. More comprehensive evidence tells a different story.
What will you do?
Go to a source: Revisiting the gun ownership and violence link; a multi-level analysis of victimization survey data (John N. van Kesteren, British Journal of Criminology, delinquency and deviant social behavior, 2014).