Inj Prev 20:424-426 doi:10.1136/injuryprev-2014-041187
  • Brief report

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

  1. Charles King3,4
  1. 1Department of Community Health Sciences, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  2. 2Virtual Media Resources, Natick, Massachusetts, USA
  3. 3Greylock McKinnon Associates, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
  4. 4Pleiades Consulting Group, Inc., Lincoln, Massachusetts, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Michael Siegel, Department of Community Health Sciences, Boston University School of Public Health, 801 Massachusetts Avenue, 3rd Floor, Boston, MA 02118, USA; mbsiegel{at}
  • Received 3 February 2014
  • Revised 17 March 2014
  • Accepted 26 March 2014
  • Published Online First 16 April 2014


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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