Guns can kill you in three ways: homicide, suicide, and by accident. Owning a gun or having one readily accessible makes all three more likely. One meta-analysis ”found strong evidence for increased odds of suicide among persons with access to firearms compared with those without access and moderate evidence for an attenuated increased odds of homicide victimization when persons with and without access to firearms were compared.” The latter finding is stronger for women, a reminder that guns are also a risk factor for domestic violence.
The same thing is true for accidents. States with more guns see more accidental deaths from firearms, and children ages 5 to 14 are 11 times more likely to be killed with a gun in the US compared to other developed countries, where gun ownership is much less common. About half of gun accident fatalities happen to people under 25, and some recent analyses suggest that the official count of gun accident deaths among children is understated.
”When 34 injury prevention experts were asked to prioritize home injury hazards for young children, based on frequency, severity, and preventability of the injury, the experts rated access to firearms in the home as the most significant hazard,” Harvard gun expert David Hemenway writes. The American Academy of Pediatrics has stated that “the absence of guns from children’s homes and communities is the most reliable and effective measure to prevent firearm-related injuries in children and adolescents.”