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Skip Navigation LinksHome > August 1998 - Volume 45 - Issue 2 > Injuries and Deaths Due to Firearms in the Home
Journal of Trauma-Injury Infection & Critical Care:
Articles: Presented At The 11Th Annual Meeting Of The Eastern Association For The Surgery Of Trauma, January 14-17, 1998, Sanibel, Florida

Injuries and Deaths Due to Firearms in the Home

Kellermann, Arthur L. MD, MPH; Somes, Grant PhD; Rivara, Frederick P. MD, MPH; Lee, Roberta K. RN, PhD; Banton, Joyce G. MS

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Abstract

Objectives: Determine the relative frequency with which guns in the home are used to injure or kill in self-defense, compared with the number of times these weapons are involved in an unintentional injury, suicide attempt, or criminal assault or homicide.

Methods: We reviewed the police, medical examiner, emergency medical service, emergency department, and hospital records of all fatal and nonfatal shootings in three U.S. cities: Memphis, Tennessee; Seattle, Washington; and Galveston, Texas.

Results: During the study interval (12 months in Memphis, 18 months in Seattle, and Galveston) 626 shootings occurred in or around a residence. This total included 54 unintentional shootings, 118 attempted or completed suicides, and 438 assaults/homicides. Thirteen shootings were legally justifiable or an act of self-defense, including three that involved law enforcement officers acting in the line of duty. For every time a gun in the home was used in a self-defense or legally justifiable shooting, there were four unintentional shootings, seven criminal assaults or homicides, and 11 attempted or completed suicides.

Conclusions: Guns kept in homes are more likely to be involved in a fatal or nonfatal accidental shooting, criminal assault, or suicide attempt than to be used to injure or kill in self-defense.

© Williams & Wilkins 1998. All Rights Reserved.

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