MONDAY, April 4, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Living with a handgun owner is associated with a significantly increased risk for dying by homicide, according to a study published online April 5 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

David M. Studdert, Sc.D., from the Stanford University School of Medicine in California, and colleagues conducted a retrospective cohort study following 17,569,096 adult residents of California from Oct. 18, 2004, through Dec. 31, 2016, to examine the association between living with a lawful handgun owner and the risk for homicide victimization.

Overall, two-thirds of the 595,448 cohort members who commenced residing with handgun owners were women. The researchers found that 737,012 cohort members died during follow-up; 2,293 died by homicide. The overall homicide rates were significantly elevated for cohabitants of handgun owners versus cohabitants of nonowners (adjusted hazard ratio, 2.33). The main driver of these elevated rates was higher rates of homicide by firearm (adjusted hazard ratio, 2.83). Among homicides occurring at home, the rates of being fatally shot by a spouse or intimate partner were significantly increased for cohabitants of handgun owners (adjusted hazard ratio, 7.16); most of these victims (84 percent) were female.

“The United States should not tolerate the loss of life and health due to guns any more than we should be complacent with loss of life and health due to COVID-19 or the opioid misuse epidemic,” write the authors of an accompanying editorial. “We are meeting these other health threats head-on with resolve. We must do the same with firearm injury.”

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