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KUNC is among the founding partners of the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration of public media stations that serve the Western states of Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

Study: A gun in the house doubles homicide risk – and women are usually the victims

handgun in a cupboard drawer
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A new Stanford University study illuminates the risks people living in homes with guns face.

News Brief

The Mountain West has some of the highest gun ownership rates in the nation — and some of the least restrictive gun laws. New research suggests those high rates come with big risks. Those who live in homes with guns are more than twice as likely to die from homicides, according to a new study. 

Researchers at Stanford University looked at homicides among nearly 18 million Californians over a 12-year period. They also zoomed in on different kinds of homicides, such as people killed by their partners or spouses. They found that people living with handgun owners were seven times more likely to be shot by their spouse or intimate partner. The vast majority of those victims – more than 80% – were women.

“When we think about the second-hand risks of gun ownership, we're really talking about a population that is predominantly female,” said lead researcher David Studdert.

Montana and Wyoming rank No. 1 and 2 in the nation for per capita gun ownership. Idaho comes in fourth, after Alaska. Studdert says the dangers illuminated in his research could be even greater in the Mountain West than what the California study suggests given that state has some of the strictest gun laws in the country.

“The risks that we estimated here in California may be lower actually than risks in other parts of the country, including the Mountain West, where there aren’t quite as strict rules around acquisition of firearms,” he explained.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.