Protection or Peril? Gun Possession of Questionable Value in an Assault

Sep 30, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- In a first-of its-kind study, epidemiologists at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine found that, on average, guns did not protect those who possessed them from being shot in an assault. The study estimated that people with a gun were 4.5 times more likely to be shot in an assault than those not possessing a gun.

The study was released online this month in the , in advance of print publication in November 2009.

"This study helps resolve the long-standing debate about whether guns are protective or perilous," notes study author Charles C. Branas, PhD, Associate Professor of Epidemiology. "Will possessing a firearm always safeguard against harm or will it promote a false sense of security?"

What Penn researchers found was alarming - almost five Philadelphians were shot every day over the course of the study and about 1 of these 5 people died. The research team concluded that, although successful defensive gun uses are possible and do occur each year, the chances of success are low. People should rethink their possession of guns or, at least, understand that regular possession necessitates careful safety countermeasures, write the authors. Suggestions to the contrary, especially for urban residents who may see gun possession as a defense against a dangerous environment should be discussed and thoughtfully reconsidered.

A 2005 National Academy of Science report concluded that we continue to know very little about the impact of gun possession on homicide or the utility of guns for self-defense. Past studies had explored the relationship between homicides and having a gun in the home, purchasing a gun, or owning a gun. These studies, unlike the Penn study, did not address the risk or protection that having a gun might create for a person at the time of a shooting.

Penn researchers investigated the link between being shot in an assault and a person's possession of a gun at the time of the shooting. As identified by police and medical examiners, they randomly selected 677 cases of Philadelphia residents who were shot in an assault from 2003 to 2006. Six percent of these cases were in possession of a gun (such as in a holster, pocket, waistband, or vehicle) when they were shot.

These shooting cases were matched to Philadelphia residents who acted as the study's controls. To identify the controls, trained phone canvassers called random Philadelphians soon after a reported shooting and asked about their possession of a gun at the time of the shooting. These random Philadelphians had not been shot and had nothing to do with the shooting. This is the same approach that epidemiologists have historically used to establish links between such things as smoking and lung cancer or drinking and car crashes.

"The US has at least one gun for every adult," notes Branas. "Learning how to live healthy lives alongside guns will require more studies such as this one. This study should be the beginning of a better investment in injury research through various government and private agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control, which in the past have not been legally permitted to fund research 'designed to affect the passage of specific Federal, State, or local legislation intended to restrict or control the purchase or use of firearms.'"

Source: University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (news : web)

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Thnder
2.5 / 5 (8) Sep 30, 2009
"Six percent of these cases were in possession of a gun (such as in a holster, pocket, waistband, or vehicle) when they were shot."

Would that not suggest that it is safer to possess a firearm?
That aside, did they factor in Concealed Firearms? If the shooter shot a person with a concealed firearm then the possession of said firearm is irrelevant imop.

"Learning how to live healthy lives alongside guns will require more studies such as this one.”
It is very simple to live a healthy life with a gun; I’ve done it for years. Guns are not health risks. If you handle guns with care, as everyone should, and do not point them at people then they do not hurt or kill other people.
Educate people on how to handle them in the proper way and the problem is solved, for law abiding citizens anyways. As for criminals, that is what Law enforcement officers are for...
What A load of BS...
Gudhands
3.4 / 5 (10) Sep 30, 2009
Take this survey of convicted felons. "If you knew that it was more likely than not that a potential victim had a gun and knew how to use it would you be more or less deterred from attacking/robbing that person?" Those results might help the "uninformed" what goes on in the criminal mind.
defunctdiety
3.5 / 5 (8) Sep 30, 2009
This study helps resolve the long-standing debate about whether guns are protective or perilous,

If you ACTUALLY want to resolve where or not guns are protective (preventative), take a look at violent crime rates in cities with and without the most restrictive gun control, and those with and without concealed carry and "make-my-day" type laws.

As an aside, these studies have already been done, and last I checked, across the board, the cities with highest violent crime and home-intrusion rates are those with the most restrictive gun control.

Do the research for yourself. D.C. being, of course, the gold standard of poor gun legislation results.

The DC residents should thank the Supreme Court for overturning the unconstitutional laws preventing people from protecting themselves there.
bmcghie
3.4 / 5 (13) Sep 30, 2009
Sure, except up here in Canada... where we don't have guns on the streets, and our crime rates are pathetic compared to those of the glorious USA. Clearly guns should be on every hip.

/sarcasm.
axemaster
2.5 / 5 (8) Sep 30, 2009
"As an aside, these studies have already been done, and last I checked, across the board, the cities with highest violent crime and home-intrusion rates are those with the most restrictive gun control."

That might be true, but you can't make any argument either way. It's very likely that those cities have strong gun control because of the crime, not the other way around.

Actually, if you look at the situation statistically, gun control laws have little to no effect on crime rates. They don't make a significant impact one way or the other.
jsa09
3.3 / 5 (9) Sep 30, 2009
Having your gun in the glove box of your car or in some other hard to get at place is much the same as not having a gun at all. When it comes to violent crime if you have not got a gun handy and are not ready to use it then you will get shot.

The other side of this coin is that if you are not trained and ready to kill someone else then, in all likely hood, someone will take your gun off you and use it on you or someone else.

Having a gun that you cannot reach before you are held up is not of much use to you. From this one can deduce that you are just as well off not having the gun as having it. Furthermore, reaching for a gun when you should be reaching for the sky may well end up in you getting dead. Having a gun is fine in my opinion but letting some criminal take it off you is not fine. So if there is little chance of you being able to use it before they do then don't carry it and maybe you will be saving your own life and some one else's life as well.
Shotar
5 / 5 (4) Sep 30, 2009
Concentrating on an urban center would seem to negate the validity of the study to reach such a broad based conclusion. Perhaps this type of thing should be left to those of us who are criminologists and we agree to not to conduct medical studies.
RobertJohn
3 / 5 (7) Oct 01, 2009
I'M THROWING THE BS FLAG ON THIS STUDY. Basically, they randomly looked at 677 murders in Philly. They didn't disregard the times an armed CRIMINAL went looking for trouble and got shot. Most murder "victims" are not innocent, law abiding citizens keeping to themselves. Most of these "victims" are people who are dealing drugs, running with gangs, and otherwise exhibiting risky behavior.

This study ignores the human behavior, and then concludes the GUN is the thing that makes people get shot, when there are all sorts of other complex factors that aren't even considered.

Plus it looks only at people who got SHOT. How about the tens of thousands of people who carry guns, and DON'T get shot? This is completely absurd (at least from the perspective of a street cop).

WHAT A JOKE!!! Maybe they should stick to medicine, and I'll stick to investigating murders.
SMMAssociates
Oct 01, 2009
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
gwrede
2.7 / 5 (14) Oct 01, 2009
As a personal defense device, the handgun is flawed, and would have no chance of becoming legal for either laymen or the police, if it were invented today. The mere fact that a gun gives its holder immediate power to terminate another human life, would suffice for not allowing guns at all.

There really should be a non-lethal, long-range device for disabling people, (like the Taser, but longer range and more modern) and the government should force everyone to exchange their handguns to such. Thereafter the mere possession of a handgun should give a sentence longer than what you get for the possession of 10k of cocaine.

A life terminating device with no undo button (i.e. a hand gun) in the hands of non-professionals is a joke, but it is too depressing to even smile. There should be no hand guns on American soil.
jerryd
3.3 / 5 (7) Oct 01, 2009

While I just don't get this study, the fact remains those who own guns or their families are far more likely to be shot. Here in Fla we have 10-20 kids/yr being shot by their parent's, other's guns just due to playing with them. Facts are far more people shoot themselves, others accidentally than get shot by others when they don't have a gun. That doesn't include suicides from people who own guns or their family members.

Fact is if someone has a gun to rob, etc you and you go for a gun, you are far more likely to get shot. Guns are only likely to help if you have yours out first and use it.

Overall those who own guns or their families are far more likely to be shot or die from guns. Deal with it.
PVal
3.6 / 5 (7) Oct 01, 2009
Guns are good. If they weren't, every police officer in America wouldn't be carrying one.

According to National Crime Victimization Surveys, guns are used to thwart a crime nearly 2 million times each year. That's 128 times the number of murders. In other words, guns are used for good far more than they are used for evil.
Before some of you spout off, it might make sense to check into some facts about the topic.
PVal
4.4 / 5 (7) Oct 01, 2009
Here are some more pesky facts. Don't you just hate them?

As of 2000, Florida ranked #4 in population but ranked #21 in suicides. Since the right-to-carry law was enacted in Florida the following changes occured. The homicide rate dropped 36%, firearm homicides dropped 37%, and handgun homicides dropped 41%.

"Approximatey 11% of gun owners and 13% of handgun owners have used their firearms for protection from criminals at the rate of about 760,000 times a year." "There are also two million defensive gun uses per year."

"After Washington DC enacted their handgun ban, their homicide rate rose 200% while the overall U.S. rate only rose 12%."
"Of the 6.3 million violent crimes of rape, sexual assault, robbery, aggravated and simple assault only 8% involved firearms."
drel
3.4 / 5 (5) Oct 01, 2009
Want to stop the use of guns by criminals? Here is a easy solution: Just make the penalty for committing a felony or violent misdemeanor while possessing a firearm so severe that no criminal would do it. (i.e. make it a capital crime or a mandatory life sentence). Giving someone 6 months or 6 years for using a firearm during the commission of a crime is the same as saying “we don’t care if you do it, but IF we catch you and IF we convict you, we will lock you up for a few months.” If you want a behavior to stop, just start with a real punishment for the bastards you catch.

Good... Bad... I'm the guy with the gun!
Psyleid
3.4 / 5 (5) Oct 03, 2009
As a personal defense device, the handgun is flawed, and would have no chance of becoming legal for either laymen or the police, if it were invented today. The mere fact that a gun gives its holder immediate power to terminate another human life, would suffice for not allowing guns at all.

There really should be a non-lethal, long-range device for disabling people, (like the Taser, but longer range and more modern) and the government should force everyone to exchange their handguns to such.

Thereafter the mere possession of a handgun should give a sentence longer than what you get for the possession of 10k of cocaine.There should be no hand guns on American soil.


That would work except, here in the real world, it's ridiculous to to suggest that just by banning something it's going to go away. In that case guns are only going to be in the hands of criminals (who obviously don't care what the government bans).

Boy, that sounds safe!
RobertKLR
Oct 03, 2009
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
otto1923
3.3 / 5 (3) Oct 03, 2009
@grede
sorry but, you don't know what you're talking about. Criminals should understand that crime is a very dangerous business.

The supreme court is getting ready to review a challenge of the Chicago ban. Liberal fantasizers are hoping it will open the door for their Disneyland Weltanschüung. Usually these unresolvable arguments arise when there's something else going on we're not supposed to be arguing about. But what? All those unemployed losing their benefits for good after the holidays?
otto1923
4 / 5 (4) Oct 03, 2009
AN assaulting, raping, murderous felon is
A life terminating device with no undo button
They should be more afraid of you than you are of them.
SDMike
3.4 / 5 (5) Oct 03, 2009
Any of the idiots doing the study ever USED a gun in self defense? Have any of you writing the above Oh So Superior Comments? Any of you had a gun pointed at you with the intent to kill you? I've had both experiences. I'm damn glad I was armed or I wouldn't be writing this. If ya ain't been there SHUT UP!
zevkirsh
2.5 / 5 (4) Oct 04, 2009
any coceivable study on 'guns' is funded by a biased source. just like 'tobacoo' research. this study is designed to find a conclusion already formed on behalf of the funding institution. in this case, 'liberals'.

this is not to say there isn't SOME truth in the study, as any completely faked study will only render the study not only useless but leave the 'funder' open to criticism. but half truths are designed not for enlightenment , but deception. so called 'liberals' who are nothing of the sort, want to prevent the massive ownership of guns, by restricting the supply of weapons, to be done by 'passing laws' themselves enforced with gun holding 'responsible' police who enforce 'law' as made by a federal government owned by the banking cartel. liberals devise this study to support passage of law. that is all this study is. half truth to pass laws. waste of time.
finitesolutions
1 / 5 (4) Oct 04, 2009
With AI coming of age humans are doomed. Robots have already killed humans by "accidents". Just because we are the creators this does not mean that AI will spare us. Humans killing humans? : so last century :)
vanderMerwe
4.2 / 5 (5) Oct 04, 2009
"Will possessing a firearm always safeguard against harm or will it promote a false sense of security?"

From the looks of that, Branas couldn't structure a hypothesis properly to save his life, armed or not. Like so many people people pretending to be scientists these days he uses his position to advocate for his ideological prejudices rather than generating useful new knowledge.
Psyleid
1 / 5 (1) Oct 04, 2009
any coceivable study on 'guns' is funded by a biased source. just like 'tobacoo' research. this study is designed to find a conclusion already formed on behalf of the funding institution. in this case, 'liberals'.


That's dumb, there is no money to be made in just being liberal.

I could see saying something like "liberals funded by insurance companies that want to reduce the amount spent on people wounded by guns," but even that is ridiculous. There just isn't money to be made in gun control.
otto1923
3 / 5 (3) Oct 04, 2009
There just isn't money to be made in gun control
Whaaa? Illegally, it is easier to victimize unarmed people. Organized crime stands to make $$ by extorting, robbing, kidnapping, fencing, etc as well as smuggling arms and selling to gangs and thugs. Fanatical antigun politicians like Mario biaggi and Jim traficante are subsequently linked to the mob. Legally gun control is used to justify increased budgets for cops, prisons, LAWYERS, and govt agencies who spend according to lobbyist influence. There is LOTS of lucre here. That's the main impetus for gun control.
otto1923
1 / 5 (2) Oct 04, 2009
With AI coming of age humans are doomed
Thats why I am Magnus Robot Fighter, Luddite with karate skills and Ray guns. Skkrrreeeee!!!
Arikin
2.6 / 5 (5) Oct 04, 2009
"The hand that rocks the cradle...rules the world". This is not the fault of a gun. This is the fault of the culture.

If a baby is raised in a good home that child will not need a gun to feel in control. In general poverty and lack of opportunities forces some children into crime and a gun just gives them that illusion of control. Yes, some people don't need to be poor to start a life of crime but they usually have had experiences and bad values pushed on them.

Idea: Let's try fixing some of America's more serious social problems so children don't grow up into a life of crime.

We decide what to do with the gun, not the other way around.
Veneficus
2.8 / 5 (4) Oct 05, 2009
First of all, the way this research was done doesn't make sense to me:

"To identify the controls, trained phone canvassers called random Philadelphians soon after a reported shooting and asked about their possession of a gun at the time of the shooting."

I think most shootings are not random at all, so calling random citizens doesn't make sense.

Secondly:

"The study estimated that people with a gun were 4.5 times more likely to be shot in an assault than those not possessing a gun."

Now there's a hard choice: say I'm walking around with a gun, shooting people. Some people have a gun, some don't. Isn't it "natural" to shoot the ones with a gun first, since they pose the biggest threat?

Seems that they spent a lot of time finding out what everybody outside the US already knows.
Zilla
3.4 / 5 (5) Oct 05, 2009
I am a large man, and am a trained fighter. I am skilled with a variety of weapons, from stick to pistol and from knife to rifle. I can dismember the body's joints or shatter it's bones with as much effort as a sneeze; incapacitate or kill without leaving a mark (or much of one anyway). There are lots of people who are similarly capable, both men and women. I am one of the good guys, and always have been, but what on earth would the average man, let alone the average woman, do if it were otherwise?

In my grandfather's time they used to call a handgun an "equalizer", and it had earned that moniker for good reason. Throw in the fact that not only does it take time for the police to arrive (if summoned), SCOTUS and various state supreme courts have ruled that the police have no duty to respond or protect any individual citizen (only society as a whole). What other option does average-sized peace loving person have when an aggressive ne'er-do-well thrusts himself upon the scene?
NameIsNotNick
2.3 / 5 (3) Oct 05, 2009
Guns are good. If they weren't, every police officer in America wouldn't be carrying one.

According to National Crime Victimization Surveys, guns are used to thwart a crime nearly 2 million times each year. That's 128 times the number of murders. In other words, guns are used for good far more than they are used for evil.
Before some of you spout off, it might make sense to check into some facts about the topic.


Cops are well trained in their use and are supervised as to thier emotional/mental health (start acting crazy and they take the gun away!). The general public carrying guns are not. Therein lies the real problem...
otto1923
3.8 / 5 (4) Oct 05, 2009
Therein lies the real problem
No real problem but a contrived one. The presence of a handgun in the vast majority of cases deters assault. The citizen need only use it to chase someone out of their house. Cops need to carry them in public every day and be able to use them in far more complex and varied situations. Use your head.
otto1923
3.4 / 5 (5) Oct 05, 2009
If a baby is raised in a good home that child will not need a gun to feel in control
You must be extremely young or extremely naive. You have no idea how people become damaged, if this is what turns people violent, or what that has to do with protecting ourselves from them. If you need to vomit up the last episode of SVU you watched I suggest the toilet or your front yard; not here.
PaulLove
1 / 5 (3) Oct 05, 2009
The interesting thing is the founding fathers didn't place the 2nd amendment in for personal defense. Keep in mind the Constitution was written by men who had recently freed themselves from tyranical rule where speaking poorly of the government was cause for arrest or death. Where people could be siezed and held for any reason upon command of the ruling class.

Keeping in mind our founding fathers were revolutionaries is it any wonder that when organizing a new government that they made rules that said. 1) We have the freedom of speach and may freely speak poorly of our government if it displeases us 2)We may arm ourselves, we will not be rendered powerless 3)We may not be held without cause, we must be told what we have done and you must under the law and before our peers prove we have done wrong and deserve to be punished.

The second amendment is not there for hunting, and protecting your home from your fellow man may be a side benifit. The primary intent of the second amendment is that if our government slides into tyranny when it seeks to deny its citzens basic rights, is that we not be powerless to stop these actions.

Throughout the world we are known for our freedom of speach, to speak poorly of our government if we so choose. While this is rare and precious the truely amazing part of our Constitution is that if we as a people decide through the 1st amendment that we need to act, then under second amendment we have both the power and authority to do so.
otto1923
5 / 5 (3) Oct 05, 2009
the founding fathers didn't place the 2nd amendment in for personal defense
Nice speech. The supreme court says you're wrong. The amendments all address individual rights. It was on the news.
Velanarris
3.7 / 5 (3) Oct 05, 2009
2nd amendment was written for right of the individual to protect himself from "tyrannical government".

It is an individual freedom.
Grun4it
2.7 / 5 (3) Oct 05, 2009
Having been robbed at gunpoint and kidnapped with three others, I can say without reservation, if I had a handgun, he would have ended up with my weapon. He came out of hiding with the hammer back and kept his distance until he had us down on the ground. He had the drop on us and was high. He did not care if we lived or died. He made us strip, so even a concealed weapon would have been found. Unless you are highly trained and had an inkling, most of us are pulled into a surreal disbelief and won’t react. The robber came ready to act and to kill if necessary. You are not expecting it and you really don’t want to hurt anyone. Afterwards, yeah, you are ready to shoot, but then it is too late. If you are with others, you have to be able to count on them to react and not become a hostage or target due to your actions. If think you are Jack Bauer, good luck to you. Hope the wounds are not fatal. And yes, I own weapons.
Grun4it
1.5 / 5 (2) Oct 05, 2009
Having been robbed at gunpoint and kidnapped with three others, I can say without reservation, if I had a handgun, he would have ended up with my weapon. He came out of hiding with the hammer back and kept his distance until he had us down on the ground. He had the drop on us and was high. He did not care if we lived or died. He made us strip, so even a concealed weapon would have been found. Unless you are highly trained and had an inkling, most of us are pulled into a surreal disbelief and won’t react. The robber came ready to act and to kill if necessary. You are not expecting it and you really don’t want to hurt anyone. Afterwards, yeah, you are ready to shoot, but then it is too late. If you are with others, you have to be able to count on them to react and not become a hostage or target due to your actions. If think you are Jack Bauer, good luck to you. Hope the wounds are not fatal. And yes, I own weapons.
defunctdiety
3.7 / 5 (3) Oct 05, 2009
When it comes to violent crime if you have not got a gun handy and are not ready to use it then you will get shot. ... Having a gun that you cannot reach before you are held up is not of much use to you. From this one can deduce that you are just as well off not having the gun as having it.

That is a 100% faulty deduction. The real deduction is, that if you are going to carry a gun, you need to be trained and willing/prepared to use it. And this is 100% true and as a gun advocate I endorse such a stance. IF you decide to become a gun owner it is your responsibility to get proper training, otherwise you must be prepared to accept the consequences (your child accessing it, having it taken,etc)

I only want someone to have a gun if they are going to learn how to use it properly; safety first, then proper carry/access, and finally accuracy. Most citizens who are serious about having a gun for SD/HD do this, because they realize they are otherwise just a danger to themself and others
x646d63
5 / 5 (2) Oct 05, 2009
Gun control laws only affect law-abiding citizens. Criminals are criminals and don't give a sh*t about gun control laws.
x646d63
1 / 5 (2) Oct 05, 2009
I have long argued that if everyone carried a handgun there would be more 1-on-1 gun violence.

But there would be zero mass murders.

Six of one ... and which half dozen is better for society?
otto1923
5 / 5 (4) Oct 05, 2009
You are not expecting it and you really don’t want to hurt anyone. Afterwards, yeah,
I'm very sorry about what must have been a very traumatic experrience for you. You have got to know that that instance was unique, one of thousands and thousands a year. In a great many of those the crime is prevented, interrupted, or preempted by the lawful possession of a gun. Guns in the hands of citizens can and do save lives, there is no question of their benefit.
otto1923
5 / 5 (3) Oct 05, 2009
Velanarris makes Otto use google:
District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. ___ (2008) is a landmark legal case in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution protects an individual's right to possess a firearm for private use. It is the first Supreme Court case in United States history to directly address whether the right to keep and bear arms is a right of individuals in addition to a collective right that applies to state-regulated militias.
Two separate issues. The document allows citizens to form militias using the firearms they will already have for protection, hunting or whatever. Both are protected by this amendment.
OdinsAcolyte
3.4 / 5 (5) Oct 05, 2009
Being a good marksman and maintaining control over one's emotions are what will win the fight. Pick your target and squeeze the trigger. Choose your side and make a stand. The 3rd American Revolution is approaching. Let freedom ring.
otto1923
5 / 5 (3) Oct 05, 2009
"Get a shot off fast. This upsets him long enough to let you make your second shot perfect." -Lazarus Long
http://www.purege...ong.html
Arikin
1 / 5 (4) Oct 05, 2009
otto1923,
Yes what I wrote is over simplified because to explain all the ways a human can become damaged takes a couple of book shelves to do. It is just one of the basic reasons.

American culture puts too much emphasis on failing or succeeding as a individual. A gun is one way criminals think they can succeed, and everyone else thinks as protection. Maybe it is time to grow up and live as a society that cares about it members. Then guns wouldn't be needed except by law officers.
otto1923
3.7 / 5 (3) Oct 06, 2009
Maybe it is time to grow up and live as a society that cares about it members.
Or grow up and realize that there are those who do not care about anyone but themselves and who will just about anything to take what you have including your life. It's about saving people from being victimized NOW. Separate topics and possibly unrelated- you don't know. You're fantasizing about an extremely serious issue.
AlexCoe
2.6 / 5 (5) Oct 08, 2009
A VERY flawed "study" that has zero use in any real world discussion. The "study" idividuals were mostly criminals.
Arikin
1 / 5 (1) Oct 09, 2009
Sorry, AlexCoe,
According to otto1923 everyone is a criminal and is born so. This makes the study of criminals valid.

But you are right it is flawed because no one cares to change or make an effort. I say we all stock up on food and weapons and blast anyone that comes near our property. Kill or be killed.