Center for American Progress

Emotional and physical symptoms after gun victimization in the United States, 2009–2019
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Emotional and physical symptoms after gun victimization in the United States, 2009–2019

Eugenio Weigend Vargas and David Hemenway write about the impacts of gun violence in the United States.

Interpersonal firearm violence is a major public health problem in the United States. The objective of this study was to determine the effects of gun victimization on the likelihood of post emotional and physical symptoms as reported by victims. We focused on non-fatal violent crimes reported to the National Crime Victimization Surveys for 2009–2019 and ran a set of binary logistic regressions. For outcome measures, we used two dichotomous variables, whether the victim reported feeling at least one of the seven emotional symptoms included in the survey (i.e., anxious, angry, sad/depressed, vulnerable, violated, distrustful, unsafe) and whether they reported having at least one of the seven physical symptoms (i.e., headaches, sleep eating/drinking disorders, upset stomach, fatigue, high blood pressure, muscle tension). Our key independent variable was the type of weapons used by the offender: guns, other weapons, and no weapon. We controlled for demographics of the victim, as well as other aspects of the crime (e.g., age, race, sex of victim, multiple offenders, type of violent crime). Victims of crimes in which the offender used a gun were most likely to report both emotional and physical symptoms, followed by victims of crimes in which the offender used other weapons, and lastly by victims of unarmed offenders. Our findings suggest that the presence of a firearm during a violent crime results in an increased likelihood of subsequent emotional and physical repercussions.

The above excerpt was originally published in Preventive Medicine. Click here to view the full article.

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Eugenio Weigend Vargas

Former Director

David Hemenway

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