Tougher Gun Laws, Fewer Gun Deaths

By Robert Preidt
HealthDay reporter

TUESDAY, April 27, 2021 (HealthDay News) – The more gun laws a state has, the lower its suicide and murder rates, according to a new US study.

Gun violence in the United States is a public health crisis. In 2017, nearly 67,000 Americans died from suicide and homicide. And guns have been implicated in about half of suicides and 74% of murders, the researchers reported.

But in recent decades, “as the austerity of the States [on gun ownership] have gone up, their suicide and homicide rates have gone down, “senior author John Gunn said in a press release from Rutgers University. He is a postdoctoral researcher at the Rutgers School of Public Health and the New Jersey Gun Violence Research Center.

To assess the association between gun laws and suicide and homicide rates, researchers analyzed data collected nationally from 1991 to 2017.

After controlling for gun ownership rates and other factors, the study found that the number of gun laws in a state was a significant predictor of suicide and murder rates.

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“With nearly 40,000 deaths per year from gun violence, regulations that can limit access to guns appear to reduce state-level mortality,” the study co-author said. Bernadette Hohl, Assistant Professor at the Rutgers School of Public Health.

“The evidence-based implementation of gun regulations across the United States has the potential to dramatically reduce the toll of gun violence,” Hohl added.

The study was published on April 13 in the Public health journal.According to the authors, the researchers were the first to focus on the impact of the total number of gun regulations in each state.

Previous studies have found associations between suicide and homicide rates in the state and specific gun laws, such as wait times and universal background checks. Most research has shown that specific gun laws are associated with reduced gun deaths.

More research is needed to assess the link between gun laws and suicide and murder rates, the study’s authors noted.

“It will be necessary to assess the implications of changes in law, enforcement and whether there is a correlation with the decline in violent crime,” Gunn said.

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More information

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence has more on gun laws.

SOURCE: Rutgers University, press release, April 22, 2021

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