Gun violence is a public health issue

2 min read

As the gun control debate reignited following the mass shooting at a nightclub in Florida, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public expert David Hemenway spoke to several news outlets about the state of firearms research. He said that a Congressional ban on using federal funds to “promote gun control” has had a chilling effect on the study of guns, leaving many questions unanswered.

“I’d like to know who is using these guns inappropriately, and how they get them. We really don’t know that,” said Hemenway, who is a professor of health policy at Harvard Chan School and director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, in a June 23, 2016 interview with WBUR’s Morning Edition. He added, “We know so little about gun theft, about gun storage, about gun training, about concealed gun carrying.”

One thing researchers have established, Hemenway said, is that fewer guns in the home lead to fewer deaths. He told WBUR that there is “incredibly good, solid research” around the fact that a gun in the home really increases the risk of suicide dramatically—maybe threefold—for everyone in the house.”

This risk outweighs the potential self-defense benefit of owning a gun, Hemenway said. Guns are very rarely used for self-defense, he said in a June 17 interview on Boston Public Radio, adding that there doesn’t appear to be any evidence that guns are better for self-defense than using another weapon, calling the police, or running away.