Review Article

Do Guns Provide Safety? At What Cost?

Authors: Puneet Narang, MD, Anubha Paladugu, MD, Sainath Reddy Manda, MD, William Smock, MD, Cynthia Gosnay, RN, Steven Lippmann, MD


Many people feel that having a gun provides greater safety for them and their family. Actually, having a firearm in the home escalates the risk for death or injury, while using it to shoot someone who endangers the household is much less common. The resultant injuries, deaths, emotional turmoil, and/or disabilities lead to greater utilization of health care and legal/police services. Payment for these expenses is provided by higher insurance premiums and tax rates. This financial aspect has become a part of our country's current political concern over firearm ownership rights, gun violence or regulation, health care costs, the economy, and taxes.

Key Points

* The presence of a gun in the home results in more deaths to the owner and/or family members than to intruders.

* Suicide rates are escalated by firearm availability.

* Gun-related violence raises health care utilization and costs.

* Gun-related violence increases criminal justice system expenditures.

* Shootings result in higher costs to taxpayers and for insurance premiums.

* Gun-related violence leaves a legacy of grief and hardship.

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