Although guns are seen as a means of protecting yourself, research shows that owning a gun in your home increases your risk of injury or death by gunshot. There is a lack of research about guns and their adverse effects on health and safety because the NRA has put pressure on the government to stop the CDC from funding research that would promote gun control. Roughly the same amount of people die in car accidents as people who die by gunshots, yet there is a lot more research being done on car accidents and how to prevent them. If people want to research gun safety, they have to do it on their own without federal money to support them. One person who has done this is Matthew Miller, whose research suggests that no, having a gun in your home does not make you safer. In an interview with phys.org, he simply said, “Basically, guns make your home more unsafe.”
One of the reasons for this is that easy access to guns increases the risk of suicide. For example, if someone tried to commit suicide by cutting themselves or taking pills, the likelihood that they would succeed is fewer than two to three percent. In contrast, someone who kills themselves with a gun has a 90% chance of succeeding, according to Matthew Miller. “If the guns were not readily available,” said Nathan Miller, “the rate of death (of suicide by gunshot) would drop.”
Melinda Wenner Moyer, a science writer who has looked into research done on gun safety, has found that guns are used for self defense in “less than 1% of all crimes that occur in the presence of a victim.” Even if someone had a gun for self defense only, chances are that they wouldn’t even get to use it. She also noted in an interview with KQED that having a gun in the home actually puts you in more danger. “There’s been research showing that if you keep a gun in your home, that doesn’t actually reduce your risk of gun violence.” she said, “It actually makes you more likely to be a victim of crime or homicide or suicide.”
I was interested in this topic because one of the main arguments for keeping guns accessible is their ability to keep their owner safe, which, as the research shows, is not true. Before doing the research, I didn’t know the facts or data showing the correlation between owning a gun and increased safety risks, and I don’t think most Americans know that either. One of the things that both Matthew Niller and Melinda Wenner Moyer realized was how open people were to having a discussion about guns, gun safety, and the risks. This means that people are open to learning and having a real conversation, which could lead to the spread of this research and increased gun safety.