Firearm-Related Mortality among Cohabitants of Gun Owners

Overview

This study will measure the risks and benefits of having a handgun in the home for people who reside with handgun owners.

Grant Amount: $667,604

Organization: Stanford University

Investigator: David Studdert, professor of medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine; professor of law, Stanford Law School

Expected Completion Date: Mid-2021

Project Summary

Purpose

This study aims to produce robust estimates of the “secondhand” risks and benefits of firearm ownership, which will support more informed decisionmaking by policymakers and by current and prospective gun owners.

Approach

  • Track handgun ownership status and death in a recently assembled cohort following 29 million California adults for up to 12 years.
  • Combine individual cohort members into households and identify people who do not own handguns and live with other adults.
  • The study subcohort will consist of an estimated 21 million people, including 2 million non-handgun-owners living in homes with guns and 19 million non-owners living in homes without handguns.
  • Estimate the risks of mortality (all causes and firearm-related) in each of the two groups and compare them.
  • An estimated 10,000 firearm-related deaths will have occurred among subcohort members during 2004-2016, including 7,000 firearm suicides, 2,600 firearm homicides, and 120 deaths from unintentional firearm injuries.

Significance

Research on household-level mortality risk associated with gun ownership rarely differentiates between risk to the gun owner and risk to others who reside with the gun owner—and those others are often women and children. Better accounting of the risks and/or benefits that firearm ownership poses for non-owners could help inform decisions regarding gun ownership and storage, as well as policies aimed at improving gun safety.

Investigator Bio

David Studdert is professor of medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine, and professor of law at Stanford Law School. Dr. Studdert’s scholarship explores how the legal system influences the health and well-being of populations. Since 2013, much of his research has focused on injuries arising from firearms, suicide, and motor vehicle accidents.