Study identifies three state laws that 'substantially reduce' gun deaths

March 10, 2016, Boston University Medical Center

Gun-related deaths in the U.S. could be reduced by more than 80 percent if three laws implemented in some states were extended nationally, an analysis led by Boston University researchers shows. In a study published in The Lancet, a research team analyzing state-level data from 2010 on gun-related deaths and 25 state-specific gun laws identified three laws that were most strongly associated with reductions in overall gun-related mortality. Laws requiring firearm identification through ballistic imprinting or microstamping were found to reduce the projected mortality risk by 84 percent; ammunition background checks, by 82 percent; and universal background checks for all gun purchases, by 61 percent.

Federal implementation of all three laws would be projected to reduce the national mortality rate—10.1 per 100,000 people in 2010—to 0.16 per 100,000, the study says.

"Very few of the existing state-specific firearms laws are associated with reduced mortality, and this evidence underscores the importance of focusing on relevant and effective firearms legislation," said senior study author Dr. Sandro Galea, dean of the School of Public Health at Boston University.

"Implementing universal background checks for the purchase of firearms or ammunition, and firearm identification nationally could substantially reduce mortality in the U.S."

Lead author Bindu Kalesan, director of the Evans Center for Translational Epidemiology and Comparative Effectiveness Research at Boston University School of Medicine, said the study is the first to assess a broad array of gun laws and other relevant state-level data.

"The findings suggest that very few of the existing state gun-control laws actually reduce gun deaths, highlighting the importance of focusing on relevant and effective gun legislation," she said. "Background checks for all people buying guns and ammunition, including private sales, are the most effective laws we have to reduce the number of gun deaths in the U.S."

The research team constructed a state-level dataset using counts of firearm-related deaths in each state in 2010, information on 25 state laws implemented in 2009, and state-specific characteristics including gun ownership rates, non-firearm homicide rates, and unemployment rates. Of the 25 laws, nine were associated with reductions in mortality, while nine others—such as the so-called "stand your ground" laws, allowing individuals to use deadly force in self-defense when faced with a perceived threat—were associated with increased mortality. Seven other laws were found to have no correlation with gun-related death rates.

The researchers used a statistical model to determine the independent association of various firearms laws with gun-related homicides, suicides and overall deaths. They also projected the potential reduction of rates if the three most effective firearms laws were enacted at the federal level.

Laws requiring background checks for both guns and ammunition were the most effective legislation identified in the study, showing "the protective effect" of state laws that close loopholes in the federal Brady Law, which requires criminal background checks only for guns sold through licensed firearm dealers.

Only seven states had universal background checks in 2010, while just three states had firearm identification laws that require ballistic identification or micro-stamping of guns that leave markings on the cartridge cases they expel when fired, making it possible to link the cases to particular guns.

The authors noted that their findings corroborated an earlier, smaller state-level study that found local were associated with a 22 percent lower homicide rate.

More than 31,600 people died by guns in the U.S. in 2010 - a rate of 10.1 deaths per 100,000 people. Analyzed by state, Hawaii had the lowest rate (3.31 per 100,000), while Alaska had the highest rate (20.3).

Explore further: Do gun restrictions help reduce gun deaths?

More information: The Lancet, … (15)01026-0/abstract

Related Stories

Do gun restrictions help reduce gun deaths?

March 8, 2016
A study by researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health looked at the associations between firearm-related laws and firearm homicides, suicides, and unintentional injuries and deaths. The paper is ...

Suicide-by-firearm rates shift in two states after changes in state gun laws

September 1, 2015
A new study examining changes in gun policy in two states finds that handgun purchaser licensing requirements influence suicide rates. Researchers estimate that Connecticut's 1995 law requiring individuals to obtain a permit ...

Do more gun laws mean fewer gun deaths?

March 6, 2013
(HealthDay)—States with the strongest gun laws have fewer gun-related suicides and murders, a new study suggests.

Gun deaths twice as high among African-Americans as white citizens in US

September 18, 2014
Gun deaths are twice as high among African-Americans as they are among white citizens in the US, finds a study of national data, published in the online journal BMJ Open. But the national figures, which have remained relatively ...

Recommended for you

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

Teens likely to crave junk food after watching TV ads

January 15, 2018
Teenagers who watch more than three hours of commercial TV a day are more likely to eat hundreds of extra junk food snacks, according to a report by Cancer Research UK.

Can muesli help against arthritis?

January 15, 2018
It is well known that healthy eating increases a general sense of wellbeing. Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have now discovered that a fibre-rich diet can have a positive influence ...

Your dishwasher is not as sterile as you think

January 13, 2018
(HealthDay)—Your dishwasher may get those plates spotless, but it is also probably teeming with bacteria and fungus, a new study suggests.


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Mar 10, 2016
Good guys with guns hate this stuff and will vote Trump/Cruz. 'Merica.
5 / 5 (1) Mar 11, 2016
If you want to reduce crime, how about punishing criminals instead? Recently, 4 men in Chicago were arrested for murder. Between the 4 of them, they had been arrested nearly 60 times before, 10 of those arrests were gun-related, and one of them was currently on bail for shooting into a house! Background checks only keep honest people honest. Incarceration of criminals keeps them from committing another crime, with or without a gun!
5 / 5 (1) Mar 11, 2016
No mention of the study looking at an increase in the percentage of criminals obtaining firearms by stealing them, buying guns stolen by others, or by using a straw purchase when universal background checks were implemented in a particular jurisdiction. So how could the conclusions be valid? They are not. Does anyone with a brain and without a big government control agenda really believe that criminals will not simply acquire stolen guns or use straw purchasers in the face of "universal background checks". Another case of academics with a high-priced education and NO COMMON SENSE. This study has ZERO credibility without assessing the factors I have mentioned. Morons.
5 / 5 (1) Mar 11, 2016
Microstamping of cartridge cases is no panacea for reducing crimes committed with firearms. Most crimes are committed with handguns. Many handguns are revolvers, and these "brilliant researchers" apparently do not know that revolvers do not "expel" a cartridge case when fired. It is quite simple to fire all the rounds in a revolver, dump the empty cases in your hand and put them in your pocket and then reload. Additionally, any person with a few minutes and a rotary tool from Home Depot can obliterate the microstamp in a few minutes, whether the handgun is a revolver or a semiautomatic pistol.
not rated yet Mar 12, 2016
Many handguns are revolvers, and these "brilliant researchers" apparently do not know that revolvers do not "expel" a cartridge case when fired.

From the article:
firearm identification laws that require ballistic identification or micro-stamping

Does the addition of ballistic identification solve the problem?

Does anyone with a brain and without a big government control agenda really believe that criminals will not simply acquire stolen guns or use straw purchasers in the face of "universal background checks".

The point of the ballistic identification is to make it possible to tie a gun to a crime. Criminals will not want such a gun. If the law makes it an offence to carry a gun that is not properly registered or that is modified to interfere with tying to the gun bullets fired from that gun, then you have a law that lets you arrest those who carry guns specifically in order to commit crimes. Would you disagree with that?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.