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Inj Prev. 2014 Dec;20(6):424-6. doi: 10.1136/injuryprev-2014-041187. Epub 2014 Apr 16.

Examining the relationship between the prevalence of guns and homicide rates in the USA using a new and improved state-level gun ownership proxy.

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Department of Community Health Sciences, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
Virtual Media Resources, Natick, Massachusetts, USA.
Greylock McKinnon Associates, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA Pleiades Consulting Group, Inc., Lincoln, Massachusetts, USA.


Determining the relationship between gun ownership levels and firearm homicide rates is critical to inform public health policy. Previous research has shown that state-level gun ownership, as measured by a widely used proxy, is positively associated with firearm homicide rates. A newly developed proxy measure that incorporates the hunting license rate in addition to the proportion of firearm suicides correlates more highly with state-level gun ownership. To corroborate previous research, we used this new proxy to estimate the association of state-level gun ownership with total, firearm, and non-firearm homicides. Using state-specific data for the years 1981-2010, we modelled these rates as a function of gun ownership level, controlling for potential confounding factors. We used a negative binomial regression model and accounted for clustering of observations among states. We found that state-level gun ownership as measured by the new proxy, is significantly associated with firearm and total homicides but not with non-firearm homicides.

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