Despite the public revulsion with guns over here, there are more than 120 million firearms in private hands in the USA. About half the homes in America contain one or more gun. If you ask an American why he keeps a handgun in his house he will likely tell you that it’s to protect his property, or perhaps for self defence.
The real reason is less obvious. In a classic study Kellerman and Reay reviewed all the gunshot deaths in a five-year period in and around Seattle. Among one and a quarter million people there were 743 firearms-related deaths, of which just over half occurred at the residence where the gun was kept.
Only two of these 398 involved an intruder shot while attempting entry to the premises while another seven people were killed in self defence. There were 12 accidental deaths and 41 criminal homicides. In both categories the victim was usually a family member or friend.
But by far the largest group of firearms related deaths, accounting for 80% of the total, were suicides, often alcohol related. So the real reason that Americans keep a gun in the house is to shoot themselves with.