Gun deaths, injuries in California spike following Nevada gun shows

October 23, 2017, University of California - Berkeley
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

When gun shows are held in Nevada, gun-related deaths and injuries spike across the state line in California for at least the next two weeks. A new study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, examined gun deaths and injuries in California before and after gun shows in California and Nevada, and their results show a nearly 70 percent increase in deaths and injuries from firearms in California communities within convenient driving distance of Nevada gun shows. No spike in gun deaths or injuries was found following gun shows in California.

More than 4,000 gun shows are held annually in the U.S., and gun shows account for 4 to 9 percent of annual firearm sales. Some gun shows draw thousands of attendees and hundreds of sellers, whose transactions may not be subject to vigorous oversight. Some of these transactions are between private parties and do not involve a background check. Research has shown that firearms from gun shows are disproportionately implicated in crimes. California has some of the strongest firearm laws in the country, including a comprehensive set of statutes regulating gun shows. Nevada has some of the least restrictive firearm laws in the country and no explicit regulations on gun shows.

"Our study suggests that California's strict regulations—on firearms, generally, and on gun shows, specifically—may be effective in preventing short-term increases in firearm deaths and injuries following gun shows," said the study's lead author, Ellicott Matthay, a Ph.D. student in UC Berkeley's School of Public Health.

The study was funded in part by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), through a NIH Director's New Innovator Award to Jennifer Ahern, associate professor of public health at Berkeley and the study's senior author. Additional funding was provided by the Heising-Simons Foundation. Garen Wintemute, of the Violence Prevention Research Program in the Department of Emergency Medicine at UC Davis, collaborated on the study. It will be published online on October 24 in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

The study identified 275 gun shows in Nevada (mostly in Reno and Las Vegas) and 640 gun shows in California between 2005 and 2013. No publicly available database of gun shows exists for either state, so the researchers combed through trade publications to identify the dates and locations of gun shows.

Gun shows in Nevada were associated with increases in firearm deaths and injuries in California communities within convenient driving distance. California gun shows, in contrast, were not associated with local, short-term increases in firearm deaths and injuries. Non-firearm injuries served as a negative control and were not associated with California or Nevada gun shows.

Compared to the two weeks before the gun shows occurred, post-show firearm injury rates remained stable in regions near California gun shows. But post-show firearm injury rates increased from 0.67 per 100,000 people to 1.14 per 100,000 in regions near Nevada shows. This 70 percent increase translates to 30 more firearms deaths or injuries in California near the state line after 161 Nevada gun shows.

"The area of California that borders Nevada is sparsely populated, and over the study period there were relatively few Nevada gun shows. However, there are thousands of gun shows in the United States each year, most of them in relatively unregulated states. If we extended this study nationwide, it is possible that the number of deaths and injuries associated with gun shows would be far greater," Ahern said.

Unlike firearm purchases through federally licensed dealers, private transfers of a gun from one person to another do not require background checks in many states. Gun shows make private transfers easier by drawing large crowds together for the purpose of buying and selling guns. During the study period, California required background checks on all transfers, including private transfers, but Nevada did not. (Nevada voters approved a private gun sale background check requirement in November 2016, but it has not been implemented.)

"The study suggests that travel to less-restrictive states may threaten the effectiveness of firearm laws within California. When a less-restrictive is next to a state that is more restrictive, there may be spillover effects," Matthay said. "More research is needed to know for certain."

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3 / 5 (2) Oct 23, 2017
You agree that the law abiding citizens of a certain jurisdiction that they choose to live should be in compliance with the gun laws of that jurisdiction, regardless of what the gun laws are in another city, county, state, country, planet or galaxy? You do not agree that 100% responsibility for illegal gun use defaults to the perpetrator?? You are going to counter back that Nevada gun shows are partly to blame? and the gun itself is to blame? Criminals are never in compliance with laws.
1 / 5 (1) Oct 23, 2017
Ha, ha, ha!

Nevada has a gun show every two weeks or so! How can it be possible that crime spikes in California two weeks after a gun show?

Here's the list:

And yes, there is a publicly-available database. I just posted a partial URL for it. Seriously, who are the members of the research team, Curly, Moe and Larry? This "study" smells a little.
not rated yet Oct 23, 2017
Medical malpractice deaths and lawsuits increase after attending doctors appointments in California
3 / 5 (2) Oct 23, 2017
That is pretty silly.

275 gun shows in Nevada, that is more than one per every business day of the year. Then later, they cull it down to say, no it isn't 275, it is 161 shows.

Then they say "the area is sparsely populated", but if a rate increases from .67 to 1.14 per 100,000 people and that means 30, then that represents 6.4M people.

But wait! The overall murder rate for California is about 4.8 per 100,000. So, what these people in this study are saying really is that those Nevada border areas, which presumes people there can buy guns in Nevada at any time, five days a week at a gun show, with no rules (they can't by the way, but that is what they want readers to believe), is MUCH safer than the rest of California that has strict gun controls all the time.

not rated yet Oct 25, 2017
As the tragic shooting in Las Vegas illustrates perfectly, the appalling prevalence of assault weapons in the US allows law abiding citizens with a chip on their shoulder to devolve into mass murderers, creating situations where it is impossible for other armed citizens to defend themselves. The gun policies in the US are madness incorporated. The Financial Times, a finance oriented newspaper compiled a comprehensive report on gun stats in the US and they fall so far outside of the bounds of normality it actually makes me worry for mental health of the country where my wife comes from :(
"US gun ownership: a deadly love affair"

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