gunsUCR Professor of Sociology Augustine Kposowa recently published his study “Impact of Firearm Availability and Gun Regulation on State Suicide Rate” in The Journal of Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior. His research found that gun owners are more likely to commit suicide and discusses the measures that should be taken to prevent more deaths in the United States. He hopes his research will motivate policymakers to take preventative measures and create regulations on gun ownership.

Kposowa began his study because he was shocked by the “laxity and wide availability of guns” in America. “A lot of people think that when suicide occurs it is because of planning, but that is not the case, suicide can happen in an impulsive way,” Kposowa explained in his research.

“If the gun is unlocked the risk (of suicide) goes higher, and then if the unlocked gun is loaded the rates go even higher,” Kposowa stated. In addition to whether the gun is loaded, he also investigated the different types of storage and the effect that has on rates of suicide.

The researcher proposed policy changes that could help to decrease suicide rates within the United States. Referencing the comparably lower gun suicide rates in countries with stricter gun regulations, Kposowa advocates allowing the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to collect data on gun ownership. “If the CDC can collect data then we can constantly report on the dangers of guns, maybe that will help people to change their minds and their fixation on guns,” he said. Currently the CDC is not allowed to appropriate funds for studies that “advocate or promote gun control.”

In response to opponents of gun regulations, Kposowa wants people to recognize that it is not impossible to amend the Constitution and that while many people believe guns are the best way to protect themselves from predators, this is not always the case. “The greatest danger is right there with them in their own house,” he says.

“I would really like to see a day in America where people wake up and say that we cannot accept this situation anymore. Let us have a constitutional amendment on guns and have a real debate: Is the country going the right way with all these guns and the violence and mayhem it causes?” Kposowa asked. Kposowa hopes that his research will influence people to view gun ownership differently, and perhaps even motivate policymakers to create tighter regulations in the future.