The relationship between gun ownership and stranger and nonstranger firearm homicide rates in the United States, 1981-2010

Am J Public Health. 2014 Oct;104(10):1912-9. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2014.302042. Epub 2014 Aug 14.


Objectives: We examined the relationship between gun ownership and stranger versus nonstranger homicide rates.

Methods: Using data from the Supplemental Homicide Reports of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Uniform Crime Reports for all 50 states for 1981 to 2010, we modeled stranger and nonstranger homicide rates as a function of state-level gun ownership, measured by a proxy, controlling for potential confounders. We used a negative binomial regression model with fixed effects for year, accounting for clustering of observations among states by using generalized estimating equations.

Results: We found no robust, statistically significant correlation between gun ownership and stranger firearm homicide rates. However, we found a positive and significant association between gun ownership and nonstranger firearm homicide rates. The incidence rate ratio for nonstranger firearm homicide rate associated with gun ownership was 1.014 (95% confidence interval=1.009, 1.019).

Conclusions: Our findings challenge the argument that gun ownership deters violent crime, in particular, homicides.

MeSH terms

  • Crime / statistics & numerical data
  • Firearms / statistics & numerical data*
  • Homicide / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Ownership*
  • Prevalence
  • United States
  • Wounds, Gunshot / epidemiology*