Objectives: We examined the relationship between levels of household firearm ownership, as measured directly and by a proxy-the percentage of suicides committed with a firearm-and age-adjusted firearm homicide rates at the state level.
Methods: We conducted a negative binomial regression analysis of panel data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Web-Based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting Systems database on gun ownership and firearm homicide rates across all 50 states during 1981 to 2010. We determined fixed effects for year, accounted for clustering within states with generalized estimating equations, and controlled for potential state-level confounders.
Results: Gun ownership was a significant predictor of firearm homicide rates (incidence rate ratio = 1.009; 95% confidence interval = 1.004, 1.014). This model indicated that for each percentage point increase in gun ownership, the firearm homicide rate increased by 0.9%.
Conclusions: We observed a robust correlation between higher levels of gun ownership and higher firearm homicide rates. Although we could not determine causation, we found that states with higher rates of gun ownership had disproportionately large numbers of deaths from firearm-related homicides.