A new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, published by Elsevier, reveals a unique and strong association between firearm ownership and the risk of domestic homicides. For each 10 percent increase in household gun ownership rates, the findings show a significant 13 percent increased incidence of domestic firearm homicide. The homicide risk differ across victim-offender relationships, with nondomestic firearm homicide rising only 2 percent among firearm owners.

“While personal protection is a commonly cited reason for owning a gun; so our research shows that firearm ownership also confers significant risks to love ones, as they are more likely to be kill if there is a gun in the household,” said lead investigator Aaron J. Kivisto, Ph.D., School of Psychological Sciences, University of Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN, USA. “Our findings highlight the importance of firearm removal in protecting victims of domestic violence, the majority of whom are women.”

Household gun ownership

The investigators look at annual homicide rates in all 50 US states from 1990 through 2016; so across a variety of victim-offender relationships, including homicides of intimate partners, other family members, acquaintances, and strangers. Data were drawn from the US Census, Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism; also Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Report. They examine whether state-level household gun ownership rates; which were uniquely associate with homicide rates within specific victim-offender relationships.

Researchers note significant variations across states in the rate of gun-owning households in the US; so ranging from 10.4 percent to 68.8 percent. Differences were observe by regions; for example, higher rates were find in states in the south and west; so whereas lower firearm ownership was observe in the Northeast region. The study demonstrate that the incidence of domestic firearm homicide was significantly higher in states at the top end of the spectrum. Nearly one in three homicides was classify as domestic with higher domestic firearm homicide rates observe in southern states and lower rates occurring in the northeast. Approximately half of all homicide victims were classify as friends /acquaintances.

Role of firearms

The results point to the need to more fully understand the role of firearms; which across the diverse social and relational dynamics implicate in acts of fatal gun violence. As the number of deaths cause by firearm violence continues to rise in the US; so researchers have start to examine potential causal factors; hence one of which is the number of households with firearms.

Past research has consistently point to an association between state-level gun ownership; also rates of firearm mortality, including suicides and homicides. The results of this study suggest that the risks of gun; so ownership on homicide rates are relatively specific to domestic homicides, which the study define as the homicide of an intimate partner or other family member.

The findings should help guide suggest avenues for future policy, practice, and research initiatives. Professor Kivisto noted, “While some federal laws are in place that are aim at reducing domestic firearm violence; so not enough has done to enforce them at the federal level. States that have enact legislation to prohibit individuals at high; so risk of intimate partner violence from possessing firearms and requiring them to relinquish any they currently own, have a lower incidence of domestic firearm homicide.”