Recent Blog Articles

Harvard Health Blog

Guns and your health

January 13, 2016


As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.


John & Kathleen Piazza
January 14, 2016

I wish I had the time to respond to your incomplete and biased article. We welcome the opportunity to take personal responsibility, and wish to remind you of one night not so long ago in 1938. The government had exercised gun confiscation, and then terrorized the protectionless minority with death, injury, and property theft & damage.
It was called Krystallnacht because of all the glass of the defenseless that was broken.
Do not remove our right to protect ourselves because somebody who wants to terminate their life by suicide used a firearm.
How many times in the last year have we seen abusive , out of control police murder the defenseless, usually with firearms?
We think you should adhere to health, and not social issues where you have some competency. Private firearms ownership could have stopped or mitigated the tremendous loss of life in the Ukraine prior to WWII, and, in China, from the time of the invaison by the Japanese to the great famine of the late 50s-early 60s, all caused by abusive governments toward their own citizens.

Regula Pepi
January 14, 2016

I don’t believe that a gun in and of itself is a health hazard. But it is a potential hazard unless the household is educated with respect to guns and engages regularly in target practice and save handling practices. The recent uptick in gun purchases has been accompanied by quite a bit of hysteria and bluster. Our local gun club had a few hairy occurrences after the last election; lights shot out, firearms laying around, scary behavior on the shooting line and general idiocy frightening the old-timers. An introductory course for new members was instituted and we have not heard any horror stories lately. Chances are many of the new gun owners stopped practicing but the guns are still in their homes.

Linda Alcott Maples
January 14, 2016

I would like everyone to consider all the deaths that happen in a hospital to a lot of those who go in for routine procedures. And because of unclean areas are exposed to germs that can cause death.
Address this area of health, and we will all be better for it.
I think health magazines/newsletters should stick to basic health and leave gun control to our Congress and the 2nd Amendment!!
Our family doctor is a big advocate of gun rights.

January 14, 2016

As an Australian, I would never visit America. Your general attitude toward guns is frightening. I might never make it back home.

Alan ostner
January 14, 2016

Better fix the typo:

“But guns do affect health and safety. In the United States, the number of deaths from guns continues to climb (now at roughly 33,00 per year, far more than any other developed country per capita) and is expected to surpass motor vehicle deaths for 2015. It is the second leading cause of death in children.”

33,000 is the number.

Great post! Guns are absolutely a health risk. Thanks for standing up for health.

January 14, 2016

Thanks for the interesting stats. I have a gun at home, easily accessible. I have to ponder what you say.

Harold Hunt
January 14, 2016

I find your article extremely biased and misleading. If you eliminate the four most crime ridden cities of Detroit, Chicago, New York and New Orleans, all of which have extreme tight gun control laws, the United States is fifth from the bottom of countries in gun violence.

David Deuel
January 14, 2016

I appreciate the attempt at being unbiased, but I believe that Dr Armand could do a little better job at being neutral if our health and safety is truly her motivation.

Ruth Burke
January 14, 2016

I really object to this article/blog Harvard, especially in such a highly charged political environment. What you have stated is frankly, outrageously biased. Makes me think of the book A Statistician Reads the Newspaper – you can turn any statistic into something that supports your view if you A) leave out the opposing views and statistics and B) flaunt statistical numbers without the related data that would show your actual numbers are ridiculously small. This is beneath you and sounds like you’re using a good thing as just another bully pulpit and you did it by slipping it in between the things we’re here to read. Not cool guys.

January 14, 2016

That graph you linked to from Vox is very misleading because they include suicides. The association completely disappears if you only count homicides:

January 13, 2016

Which developed country has at least half the population of the US?

January 13, 2016

Japan has a suicide rate 20x higher than the US and literally NO access to guns whatsoever. I find this entire “blog post” to be quite misleading, if not completely biased. You say that more people are victims of their own gun, than actually using them for protection?

It’s estimated that guns are used 2.5 million times PER year to stop violent crimes from occurring. That fact in itself dwarfs all the numbers of “gun deaths.” (2/3rds of which are suicide.)

January 14, 2016

The suicide rate comparison you stated above is incorrect. According to the World Health Organization (2012) Japan’s suicide rate per 100,000 people was 18.5 and the rate in the USA was 12.1, clearly not 20x higher. Japan’s higher rate has nothing to do with this discussion as Dr. Armand is only stating the fact that, when guns are accessible, suicide attempts are more successful. Without access to unlocked and loaded firearms more suicide attempts would fail in the USA and the rate would be even lower (maybe then it would be 20x lower than in Japan).

The second statistic of 2.5M violent crimes stopped per year by gun owners is from Dr. Gary Klecks’ “study” which is actually an estimate based on a survey of 222 participants. This estimate is a gross overstatement (orders of magnitude) of all credible available information which is discussed in detail, and in consideration of the gun lobby’s positions, in the following link;

I hope that you check the suicide rate numbers I provided and read the entire article at the link above. You may find that it is not Dr. Armand who is misleading you but rather the gun lobby. There are good reasons to own guns, and you have the right to do so, but the belief that having guns makes you or your family safer is not based in fact. Please take all possible precautions to stay safe and protect the safety of others.

Commenting has been closed for this post.

You might also be interested in…

Harvard Health Letter

Want to reduce pain in your knees and be more active? Eat smarter and reduce your risk for a heart attack? Improve your flexibility and balance so you don’t fall? Sleep the entire night so you have more energy during the day? Take control of your health right now! In Harvard Health Letter, you’ll find easy remedies and solutions to these common challenges and more.

Read More

Free Healthbeat Signup

Get the latest in health news delivered to your inbox!

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Thanks for visiting. Don't miss your FREE gift.

The Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness, is yours absolutely FREE when you sign up to receive Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Sign up to get tips for living a healthy lifestyle, with ways to fight inflammation and improve cognitive health, plus the latest advances in preventative medicine, diet and exercise, pain relief, blood pressure and cholesterol management, and more.

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Get helpful tips and guidance for everything from fighting inflammation to finding the best diets for weight loss...from exercises to build a stronger core to advice on treating cataracts. PLUS, the latest news on medical advances and breakthroughs from Harvard Medical School experts.

BONUS! Sign up now and
get a FREE copy of the
Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Stay on top of latest health news from Harvard Medical School.

Plus, get a FREE copy of the Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness.