Do Guns in the Home Keep You Safe?

Do Guns in the Home Keep You Safe?

For the publisher,

Before the Safe Firearms Storage Act was passed, many opposed such a requirement. The main argument against a safe storage law is that easy access to a firearm is necessary to ensure the safety of an owner in the event of a break-in. The underlying assumption is that a firearm makes a person safer.

Gun owners say they want to feel safe in their homes. They don’t want their guns locked away. They want easy access to them when needed. They need to protect their home and valuables from potential intruders.

Feeling safe is an emotional issue. The need for a gun is an emotional response to the need to feel safe. The real question is: Does a gun in a home make you safer?

A rational response is to weigh the benefits of protecting oneself and one’s family in the event of a break-in against the dangers inherent in owning firearms. On the one hand, thieves seeking to steal valuables do not want to expose themselves to injury or arrest by entering occupied residences. They are much more likely to enter unoccupied homes, particularly during the day when there is less chance of encountering a resident. The likelihood that a firearm would be used to deter an intruder is very low.

On the other hand, unsecured guns are a prime target for thieves looking for valuables. It has been reported that stolen guns are nearly nine times more likely to be used in other crimes.

The National Rifle Association and gun lobbyists claim that guns make us safer. If that were true, the United States would be one of the safest countries in the world, as it has one of the highest rates of gun ownership in the world. In fact, it also has one of the highest rates of gun deaths in the world. Johns Hopkins University publishes studies on gun ownership. According to their reports, guns are the leading cause of death among American children. They also claim that gun ownership leads to an increase in suicides, homicides, and accidental deaths. The risk of homicide is doubled if there is a gun in the home.

Firearms are involved in half of all suicides. Harvard reports that about 85% of attempts with a firearm are fatal. Some other suicide methods have mortality rates as low as 5%. Nine out of ten suicide attempts who survive never try again. Countless suicide attempts would and do survive if they did not have access to a firearm.

In cases of domestic violence, the presence of a firearm in the home increases the risk of death fivefold. And most often, it is the death of a woman.

For those who still think guns improve safety, consider that one in two homes in Mississippi and Louisiana own a gun. The gun death rates in those two states are 33.9 and 29.1 per 100,000 people. In Rhode Island, about one in seven homes own a gun. The death rate in Rhode Island is 5.6 per 100,000 people.

What would be a rational or emotional response to having a gun in one’s home? A rational person would look at the data and see that having a gun in one’s home poses far more risk to oneself and one’s family than the relatively small risk of finding an intruder in one’s home. This would be a rational and common sense response.

Joseph H. Crowley