Gun Law Study Finds Little Change in Murder, Suicide Rates

Article excerpt

CHICAGO -- A new study finds that murder and suicide rates did not drop any faster in states that had to toughen their laws to comply with the 1994 Brady Act to regulate handguns.

The study also reports, however, that fewer people 55 and older used guns to kill themselves after the act took effect.

The findings provoked strong words on both sides of the gun control debate; they were also questioned in an editorial that accompanied the study in today's Journal of the American Medical Association. The AMA supported the Brady Act.

The National Rifle Association claimed the research supports the notion that gun regulations like the Brady Act have no effect on crime. Advocates of stricter gun laws said the study is not an appropriate measure of the success or failure of the Brady Act.

The findings follow research presented last week by the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence, which estimates that 9,368 lives were saved between 1994 and 1998 because guns were less available to criminals.

The head of the center, Sarah Brady, is married to James Brady, for whom the act is named. Brady was the press secretary wounded and paralyzed in the 1981 assassination attempt on President Reagan.

As implemented in 1994, the Brady Act required licensed dealers to perform background checks and observe a five-day waiting period before selling handguns. …