Scientists agree: Guns don’t make society safer

Scientists who conduct research on gun violence overwhelmingly agree that firearms make society more dangerous, according to a recent poll conducted by David Hemenway of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Hemenway, an expert on the public health impact of gun violence and director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, recently polled 150 scientists who publish on firearms on their opinions about guns and safety, and wrote about the results in an April 22, 2015 op-ed in the Los Angeles Times. “Scientific consensus isn’t always right, but it’s our best guide to understanding the world,” he explained in the op-ed.

An overwhelming share of the scientists he polled (84%) said that having a gun in the home increases the risk of suicide—which corresponds to scientific evidence on the subject. Most scientists also agreed that a gun in the home increases the risk that a woman living in that home will be a victim of homicide (72%), and that a gun in the home makes it a more dangerous place (64%) rather than a safer place (5%).

“Can reporters please stop pretending that scientists, like politicians, are evenly divided on guns?” Hemenway wrote. “We’re not.”

Read David Hemenway’s Los Angeles Times op-ed: There’s scientific consensus on guns – and the NRA won’t like it

Learn more

The danger of guns in homes (Harvard Chan news)

Gun access heightens risk of suicide, murder (Harvard Chan news)

Gun Violence: A Public Health Crisis (Forum webcast)

Guns & Suicide: The Hidden Toll (Harvard Public Health)