[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
August 5, 1998

What Are the Risks and Benefits of Keeping a Gun in the Home?

Author Affiliations

From the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Florida State University, Tallahassee.


Controversies section editor, Phil B. Fontanarosa, MD, Senior Editor.

JAMA. 1998;280(5):473-475. doi:10.1001/jama.280.5.473

PHYSICIANS have an understandable interest in the likely health consequences of keeping a gun in the home, so much so that some physicians have even urged that their fellow practitioners use their positions as guardians of health to persuade patients not to own guns, just as they might discourage drinking to excess, smoking cigarettes, or a sedentary lifestyle.1 Unfortunately, both a narrow focus on the home environment and a decidedly one-sided view of the violence-related uses to which guns are put has skewed the portrayal of this issue in medical journals. This article is intended to broaden the focus and introduce readers to relevant information that has not heretofore been presented, or has been presented in a misleading fashion, in the medical and public health literature on firearms and violence.