Injuries and deaths due to firearms in the home

GVPedia Study Database

Injuries and deaths due to firearms in the home

Category: Defensive Gun Use, Firearm Availability, Homicide, Suicide, Unintentional|Journal: The Journal of Trauma|Author: A Kellermann, F Rivara, G Somes, J Banton, R Lee|Year: 1998

Objective

Determine the relative frequency with which guns in the home are used to injure or kill in self-defense, compared with the number of times these weapons are involved in an unintentional injury, suicide attempt, or criminal assault or homicide.

Methods

We reviewed the police, medical examiner, emergency medical service, emergency department, and hospital records of all fatal and nonfatal shootings in three U.S. cities: Memphis, Tennessee; Seattle, Washington; and Galveston, Texas.

Results

During the study interval (12 months in Memphis, 18 months in Seattle, and Galveston) 626 shootings occurred in or around a residence. This total included 54 unintentional shootings, 118 attempted or completed suicides, and 438 assaults/homicides. Thirteen shootings were legally justifiable or an act of self-defense, including three that involved law enforcement officers acting in the line of duty. For every time a gun in the home was used in a self-defense or legally justifiable shooting, there were four unintentional shootings, seven criminal assaults or homicides, and 11 attempted or completed suicides.

Conclusions

Guns kept in homes are more likely to be involved in a fatal or nonfatal accidental shooting, criminal assault, or suicide attempt than to be used to injure or kill in self-defense.

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