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Am J Public Health. 2009 Nov;99(11):2034-40. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2008.143099. Epub 2009 Sep 17.

Investigating the link between gun possession and gun assault.

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  • 1Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Room 936 Blockley Hall, 423 Guardian Dr, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6021, USA.



We investigated the possible relationship between being shot in an assault and possession of a gun at the time.


We enrolled 677 case participants that had been shot in an assault and 684 population-based control participants within Philadelphia, PA, from 2003 to 2006. We adjusted odds ratios for confounding variables.


After adjustment, individuals in possession of a gun were 4.46 (P < .05) times more likely to be shot in an assault than those not in possession. Among gun assaults where the victim had at least some chance to resist, this adjusted odds ratio increased to 5.45 (P < .05).


On average, guns did not protect those who possessed them from being shot in an assault. Although successful defensive gun uses occur each year, the probability of success may be low for civilian gun users in urban areas. Such users should reconsider their possession of guns or, at least, understand that regular possession necessitates careful safety countermeasures.

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