Most U.S. gun owners say they own firearms to protect themselves and their loved ones. A new study suggests people who live with handgun owners are shot to death at a higher rate than those who don’t have such weapons at home. “We found zero evidence of any kind of protective effects” from living in a home with a handgun, said David Studdert of Stanford University, lead author of the Annals of Internal Medicine study. The study has shortcomings. Researchers said they could not determine which victims were killed by the handgun owners or with the in-home weapons. They couldn’t account for illegal guns and looked only at handguns, not rifles or other firearms. California offers gun ownership data and other information not obtainable in almost any other state. That allowed the researchers to follow millions of people over many years to try to better establish what happens when a person begins living in a home with handgun.
The study focused on nearly 600,000 Californians who did not own handguns but began living in homes with handguns between October 2004 and December 2016 — either because they started living with someone who owned one or because someone in their household bought one. “The reason people have guns in their home is for protection from strangers,” said David Hemenway of the Harvard University’s Injury Control Research Center. “But what this is showing that having a gun in the home is bad for people in the home.”