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Gun Ownership Levels Linked to Firearm Homicide Rates

For each percentage point increase in gun ownership, firearm homicide rate up 0.9 percent

FRIDAY, Sept. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Higher levels of gun ownership are associated with increased firearm homicide rates, according to a study published online Sept. 12 in the American Journal of Public Health.

Michael Siegel, M.D., M.P.H., from the Boston University of Public Health, and colleagues examined the correlation between levels of household firearm ownership and the age-adjusted firearm homicide rates. Data were collected from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Web-Based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting Systems database for all 50 states during 1981 to 2010. Gun ownership was measured directly and by proxy (the percentage of suicides committed with a firearm).

The researchers found that gun ownership significantly predicted firearm homicide rates, with an incidence rate ratio of 1.009. For each percentage point increase in gun ownership there was a 0.9 percent increase in the firearm homicide rate.

"We observed a robust correlation between higher levels of gun ownership and higher firearm homicide rates," the authors write. "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."

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