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Can Owning a Gun Really Triple the Owner's Chances of Being Murdered?

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The Anatomy of an Implausible Causal Mechanism Kleck GD. Homicide Studies, 2001; 5(1): 64-77. Correspondence: Gary Kleck. School of Criminology, 306-Hecht House MC-1127, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 32306 USA (email: gkleck@mailer.fsu.edu). Using a case-control design comparing homicide victims with matched nonvictims, Kellermann et al. (1993) concluded that keeping a gun in one's home increased the risk of being murdered by a factor of 2.7. The authors' underlying assumption was that a significant elevation in homicide risk derived from the risk of being murdered with a gun kept in the victim's home. This article shows that homicides are rarely committed with guns belonging to members of the victim's home and that such killings could be responsible for no more than a 2.4% increase in the relative risk of being murdered. Guns in one's own home have little to do with homicide risk. Scholars need to attend more closely to the mechanisms by which an alleged causal effect is ... more
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