Gun own­er­ship leads to homi­cides: A study


As­tudy by the Amer­i­can Jour­nals of Pub­lic Health has in­di­cated that US states with higher es­ti­mated rates of gun own­er­ship ex­pe­ri­ence a higher num­ber of firearms-re­lated homi­cides. The study, cov­er­ing 30 years (1981-2010) in all 50 states, found a “ro­bust cor­re­la­tion” be­tween es­ti­mated lev­els of gun own­er­ship and ac­tual gun homi­cides at the state level, even when con­trol­ling for fac­tors typ­i­cally as­so­ci­ated with homi­cides. For each 1 per­cent­age point in­crease in the preva­lence of gun own­er­ship, the state firearm homi­cide rate in­creases by 0.9 per cent, the au­thors found.

The study, led by a Bos­ton Univer­sity School of Pub­lic Health re­searcher, ex­am­ines the Na­tional Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion’s (NRA) claim that in­creased gun own­er­ship does not lead to in­creased gun vi­o­lence. A Bos­ton Univer­sity School of Pub­lic Health re­lease re­ports that it is the largest study con­ducted to date into the cor­re­la­tion be­tween gun own­er­ship and firearms vi­o­lence, and the first com­pre­hen­sively to ex­am­ine the is­sue since the tragic shoot­ing last De­cem­ber of 20 chil­dren and seven adults at Sandy Hook Ele­men­tary School in New­town, Con­necti­cut.

Re­searchers led by Dr Michael Siegel, pro­fes­sor of com­mu­nity health sciences at the Bos­ton Univer­sity School of Pub­lic Health, ex­am­ined data for the years 1981-2010 on state firearm homi­cide rates from the Center for Disease Con­trol and Preven­tion’s Web-based In­jury Sta­tis­tics Query and Re­port­ing Sys­tem (WISQUARS) data­base.

The re­lease notes that all other fac­tors be­ing equal, for ex­am­ple, the model pre­dicts that if the gun own­er­ship es­ti­mate for Mis­sis­sippi were 58 per cent (the av­er­age for all states), in­stead of 77 per cent (the high­est of all states), its firearm homi­cide rate would be 17 per cent lower.

The study found that over the three decades, the mean es­ti­mated per­cent­age of gun own­er­ship ranged from a low of 25.8 per cent in Hawaii to a high of 76.8 per cent in Mis­sis­sippi, with an av­er­age over all states of 57.7 per cent.

The mean age-ad­justed firearm homi­cide rate ranged from a low of 0.9 per 1,00,000 pop­u­la­tion in New Hamp­shire to a high of 10.8 per 1,00,000 in Louisiana over the three decades, with an av­er­age for all states of 4 per 1,00,000. For all states, the av­er­age firearm homi­cide rate de­creased from 5.2 per 1,00,000 in 1981 to 3.5 per 1,00,000 in 2010.

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