Compared to other high income nations, the US reports high rates of household firearm ownership and firearm-related injuries and deaths. Though a growing body of evidence suggests that firearm access increases the risk of violent injury, the current literature is limited in its assessment of the injury prevention potential of protective firearm use in violent crime scenarios.
Purpose The purpose of our study is to examine associations between armed self-protective strategies and victim injury outcomes in the context of violent crime using a large, nationally representative and multi-year sample of US crime victimizations.
Methods We assembled a comprehensive panel of all available National Crime Victimisation Survey (NCVS) data, spanning collection years 1973–2015. A penalised logistic regression approach was used to estimate the effects of defensive weapon use (DWU) on five injury types, including: (1) gunshot/knife wounds, (2) internal injuries/knocked out, (3) broken bones/teeth, (4) minor injuries, and (5) any injuries. Findings. Relative to victimizations that involved the defensive use of verbal threats and arguments, the risk of gunshot injuries to the victim was increased when DWU (OR=2.02; 95% CI, 1.14 ‘“ 3.52) was employed by crime victims. Risk of broken bone injuries was also increased in DWU cases compared to non-DWU victimizations (OR=1.68; 95% CI, 1.10–2.47).
Contribution Our findings suggest that armed self-protective strategies serve to increase the odds of victim injury, in particular by gunfire.
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