More than one third of Americans currently have a working firearm in their homes. One of the primary reasons typically given for gun ownership is self-defense — protection of one's home and family. But do guns really keep you safe from harm or are they dangerous to the families that own them?
A new study looked at the research on both sides of the debate and concluded that having a gun in the home poses a greater health risk than benefit to Americans — particularly if those Americans are women and children.
The study's author, Dr. David Hemenway, professor of Health Policy at Harvard School of Public Health, weighed the various risks of having a gun in the home, such as accidents, suicide, homicide, and intimidation and compared them to the potential benefits of having a firearm in a home such as deterrence and self-defense. He found that homes with guns were not safer nor did they deter more crime than those that did not have guns. Rather, having a gun in the home posed a greater threat to the family than not having a gun. In homes with children or women, the health risks were even greater.
"Whereas most men are murdered away from home," wrote Hemenway. "Most children, older adults, and women are murdered at home. A gun in the home is a particularly strong risk factor for female homicide victimization."
And it's not just the increased risk posed by others in a home with a gun, but also an increased risk of suicide, because frankly, guns are just more lethal than other methods of suicide. Having one in the home increases the likelihood that a member of the household will reach for it when suicidal thoughts strike.
What do you think about this study? Do you have a gun in your home and if so, do you think it keeps your family safe?