New study finds people who live with handgun owners are more likely to be shot to death

The numbers suggest the risk increases by 50% and the vast majority of victims are women

(AP) – A new study published this week suggests that people who live with handgun owners are at a higher risk of being shot to death.

David Studdert, a Stanford University researcher who was the lead author of the Annals of Internal Medicine study, said ““We found zero evidence of any kind of protective effects” from living in a home with a handgun.

The study did have a few flaws. Researchers looked only at handguns, not rifles or other firearms and only took legal weapons into account. They also could not determine which victims were killed by the handgun owners or with the in-home weapons.

The data was limited to registered voters in California over the age of 21. Authors acknowledged that the findings may not generalize the whole state or the country.

Some outside experts claim the study was conducted well and was the largest research of its kind.

Cassandra Crifasi, a gun violence policy researcher at John Hopkins University, said “This contributes to our understanding of the potential causal relationship between guns in the home and homicides.” She claims this is a landmark study for the field.

California offers gun ownership data and other information not obtainable in most other states. This helps researchers follow millions of people over many years to get a better understanding of people living with handguns in their home.

The research comes from nearly 600,000 Californians who began living with someone who owned a handgun or had a person they live with purchase a handgun between October 2004 and December 2016.

Researches concluded that 12 in 100,000 people in that situation will be shot and killed by someone else over five years. Only eight in 100,000 people who live in homes without handguns will be killed that way over the same time span.

“The rates are low” and the absolute risk is small, but it’s important to consider the increase in a person’s risk of being killed, Studdert said.

The numbers suggest the risk increases by 50% but Studdert claims it is even higher. Researchers estimated the risk was more than twice as high, in a separate calculation.

Handgun owners have a higher rate of being fatally shot by a spouse or partner, researchers also found. The majority, about 84%, of victims were women.

The study was conducted in California, but the risks are likely to be even greater in states with less strict gun laws.

A past study estimated that nearly 3% of U.S. adults became new gun owners between January 2019 and April 2021.

The new study claims that handguns in the home may not be worth the additional risk, some experts claim.

“The reason people have guns in their home is for protection from strangers,” said David Hemenway, director of the Harvard University’s Injury Control Research Center. “But what this is showing that having a gun in the home is bad for people in the home.”

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