American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine: Armed Self-Defense at Home Not Worth The Risk

Abstract: This article [by David Hemenway, above] summarizes the scientific literature on the health risks and benefits of having a gun in the home for the gun owner and his/her family. For most contemporary Americans, scientific studies indicate that the health risk of a gun in the home is greater than the benefit. The evidence is overwhelming for the fact that a gun in the home is a risk factor for completed suicide and that gun accidents are most likely to occur in homes with guns . . .

There is compelling evidence that a gun in the home is a risk factor for intimidation and for killing women in their homes. On the benefit side, there are fewer studies, and there is no credible evidence of a deterrent effect of firearms or that a gun in the home reduces the likelihood or severity of injury during an altercation or break-in. Thus, groups such as the American Academy of Pediatrics urge parents not to have guns in the home.

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About Robert Farago

Robert Farago is the Publisher of The Truth About Guns (TTAG). He started the site to explore the ethics, morality, business, politics, culture, technology, practice, strategy, dangers and fun of guns.

16 Responses to American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine: Armed Self-Defense at Home Not Worth The Risk

  1. avatarRalph says:

    “gun accidents are most likely to occur in homes with guns”

    I did a study, too, and discovered that bathtub accidents are more likely to occur in homes with bathtubs.

    • avatarHunter S. says:

      +1
      HAHA… just the satirical comment I was thinking up as I was reading the article.

    • Thank you!!! I want to pull out my hair when I hear these half @$$ study results. Criminals are more likely to meet their maker while breaking into homes with guns.

      • avatarCUJO THE DOG OF WAR says:

        What about knives? Admittedly, I have accidentally cut myself a few times…maybe I need liberally-inspired oven mitts to protect myself from myself…

  2. avatarJOE MATAFOME says:

    “gun accidents are most likely to occur in homes with guns . . .” How the hell are you going to have a gun accident in a home without a gun? These morons want everyone to believe that we all want guns so that we can intimidate and kill women and children. These fools can all be good lil sheep and let the bad guys murder them, and they should leave the rest of us alone.

  3. avatarMAgunowner says:

    I read Hemenway’s article yesterday and I swear he plagiarized himself or others. There were a few sentences I know I’d read before.

    I take his assertion that the average person can expect to use his gun 0 or 1 times per lifetime as strongly supporting CCW.

  4. avatarFoghorn says:

    I thought this was a great dissection of the “study”:

    http://arstechnica.com/science/news/2011/04/guns-in-the-home-lots-of-risk-ambiguity.ars

    The author of the review, David Hemenway, however, specializes in this area, and works at the Harvard School of Public Health. Hemenway has been termed an “anti-gun researcher” by the NRA, and writes with a clear perspective. Nevertheless, within the limited scope of the review, his conclusions make sense: people do stupid things when angry or depressed, and the presence of a gun helps make that stupidity fatal. In contrast, successful use of a gun in self-defense is far more rare, and challenging to get right, so the public health perspective will always be skewed.

  5. avatarBen Eli says:

    Read the article, it is a good one. My favorite part was on page 5, right side column, in which the good doctor points out some very good facts about violent crime. And then a stumble upon this gem. “5% of all the crimes of violence perpetrated by strangers occur at home.” This is part of the argument of why not to arm at home. Good point, guess I don’t need to worry AS MUCH about intruders (still worry though).

    Wait a second, just thought of something. This means 95% percent of violence perpetrated by strangers occurs outside the home. At this point you must be thinking, ok I only need to be armed when outside of the white picket fence. But wait, you threw out your sidearm and last line of self defense when the good doctor wrote you prescription for Fearmonger-gungrabber-acillin and you tossed that handgun.

    End of the day, the doctor is right. You want to prevent in kitchen accidents, you don’t cook. And if you want to prevent gun accidents, you get the idea. But you can’t stay in the safety of your home all day, can you Doc?

  6. avatarRonH says:

    Said the ranger when asked if carrying his sidearm in Condition 1 was dangerous: “I should hope so. I wouldn’t carry it otherwise.” (I paraphrase)

    Allow me to be kind of a dick: it’s not the health of the public I’m concerned with.

  7. avatarEric S says:

    Not a big deal, really. Ever look up the stats on accidental deaths when it comes to a backyard swimming pool? Frightening.

    I know my firearms in my home lead to a higher likelihood that I’ll have a firearms accident, just as matches lead to a higher likelihood of a house fire, and a deep fryer lead to a higher likelihood of a grease fire. These are risks an individual can evaluate and this study highlights that responsibility. I’m sure there are some idiot gun owners among us who would be safer without weapons, but they’d also be safer without a car, too.

    There is a way to have a gun accident in a home without a gun. A few years back in Ohio a woman was killed by a stray shotgun slug from a hunter who was hunting on her land without permission. The round came right through her window.

  8. I believe we were just discussing the FL ruling not allowing Doctors to inquire about gun ownership. This is why! I worked in the medical field for quite a few years and this may come as a shock, but some, I said some, doctors are not very bright. They read stuff like this and make an across the board decision guns are harmful to families. That’s why I, and trust me you, should be diligent in choosing a good doctor.

  9. avatarErmete says:

    If a person kills himself with a firearm he owns, how can you
    think that he would not have killed himself if he had had not the
    possession of that gun? He is simply using the handiest thing
    he has on hand.- If you want to kill a person, what are you
    going to use? If you have a firearm you will use that firearm simply
    because it is the simplest option you have; you are not going to use
    scissors or knifes or bare hands or a baseball bat.-
    Look in the article at the ratio between gun and non gun suicides in high and
    low gun states : 80/120 and 7/86.- That is 1 to 1.5 vs 1 to 12 !
    People have always killed themselves and others: Cain killed
    Abel, with what? a knife, a stone, his hands? Where is the
    problem? The killing or the stone?

  10. avatarJavier E says:

    He is certainly no Hemingway. “that gun accidents are most likely to occur in homes with guns . . .

    Would this not read the same as: That ____________ accidents are most likely to occur in homes with ____________ . . .

    Fill in the blanks: Screwdriver, car, hammer, chainsaw, soap, rug,……………..(infinity).

  11. avatarDogman says:

    “..a gun in the home is a risk factor for completed suicide…”

    Seems logical. Who would kill themselves by drinking a bottle of drain cleaner, cutting their throat with a chef’s knife or hanging themselves with the dog’s leash when a Smith & Wesson is handy?

  12. avatargbeecher says:

    And another ridiculous study that does nothing to educate anyone, but simply uses biased data, and opinion, and presents it all as facts! Suicide with a gun? – no DUH! There’s no end to the number of imaginative ways someone can kill themselves, if they’re commited to doing so. Gun violence against women? – again, DUH! Also domestic violence using fists, baseball bats, knives, blunt objects, etc.
    How do you put a price on your life, or the life of a family member, friend or neighbor, if you don’t have a gun to defend with, when you need one?! When are gun haters going to stop blaming guns for killing, when it’s people who do the killing? Long before guns were even invented, people were commiting murder, and wars were still being fought.
    I’ll keep my gun, thank you very much! And, God forbid, that I must use it to defend with, I’ll be glad I had a gun after saving an innocent life!

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