Ready access to a firearm makes people more than three times as likely to die by suicide and nearly twice as likely to die by homicide than their adult counterparts without the ability to quickly get their hands on a gun.
This is according to the first-ever meta-analysis of gun research published Tuesday in Annals of Internal Medicine.
Researchers identified a significant gender gap in danger. While men are 29 percent more likely to die in a gun related homicide than their adult counterparts without access, a woman with a gun in the house is nearly three times more likely to be killed by a homicidal act. "Because most homicide victims know their perpetrators, this finding may indicate an impulsive reaction to domestic disputes," notes the study.
In the United States, where gun ownership is more prevalent than any other country in the world, firearms are responsible for an estimated 31,000 deaths per year.
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Dr. Andrew Anglemyer, one of the authors of the study, said the vast majority of evidence shows proximity to firearms brings increased danger of harm and death by them.
“[W]hen I reviewed all of the body of evidence, there isn’t any inconsistency," he said, according to The Daily Beast. "You at least expect some inconsistency, or contradictory evidence, but that’s not what I see here. We identified 15 studies, and 14 were significantly higher odds of suicide or being a victim of homicide. The only one that didn’t find a significant effect still trended toward a strong effect, it just wasn’t strong enough and was done in New Zealand, which has a proportion of gun owners two-thirds lower than the United States.”
The study notes that gun control measures appear to reduce this heavy death toll: "Results from ecological studies suggest that state restrictions on firearm ownership are associated with decreases in firearm-related suicides and homicides."