Following the tragic shooting death of 49 people in Orlando, Fla., questions about gun safety have dominated the national discourse. Defenders of the NRA and the second amendment have argued that guns are necessary for self-defense, as gun sales surge, even with the LGBTQAI population.
But how necessary are guns, in terms of self-defense? According to David Hemenway, a professor of health policy at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health and Director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, guns aren’t the best way to stop an attack.
“In terms of contact crimes, less than one percent of the time do the United States—even though we are armed to the teeth— use a gun in self-defense,” Hemenway said in an interview with Boston Public Radio Friday. “It’s incredibly rare, it’s almost never ever the case that a woman who is being assaulted is able to find a gun and use a gun during a sexual assault.”
According to Hemenway, there are other methods of self-defense that may be more effective. “It doesn’t appear that using a gun is much better than doing lots of other things; running away, calling the police, using some other weapon or mace or something, in terms of getting injured,” Hemenway said. The larger issue, he says, is the danger of having guns present in general. “A gun in a home is a risk factor for suicide, it increases the likelihood that someone in the home will die of suicide.”
David Hemenway is a professor of health policy at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public health and the Director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center. To hear his full interview, click on the audio link above.