The debate surrounding the right to own a gun in the United States is a controversial one, but answering the question about whether having a gun in the house will make you and your family safer is pretty straightforward. Our best bet is to look at the statistics surrounding gun ownership vs. gun violence and draw conclusions based on the research.
Do guns make us safer?
A 2018 poll by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal found 58% of Americans agree with the statement “gun ownership does more to increase safety by allowing law-abiding citizens to protect themselves.”1 And gun owners seem to believe that idea at a higher rate. Pew Research Center found 65% of men and 71% of women gun owners say the primary reason they carry is for protection.2 While public opinion seems to support the idea that having guns makes us feel safer, science has something different to say about whether guns actually make us safer.
Before diving into the statistics about having a gun in the home, it’s important to point out that until recently, unbiased research about gun violence was hard to come by. A 1996 law called the Dickey Amendment restricted how government funding could be used for research on gun violence. For several decades, many of the privately funded studies on using guns for self-defense were either sponsored by the National Rifle Association or conversely, organizations dedicated to gun control.
Today, however, there is a growing body of well-established research that clearly points toward one conclusion. Whether we carry a concealed firearm for self-defense or use one for recreational sports like hunting, guns in the home do not make us safer.