Magazine article The Nation's Health

Researchers Pinpoint Gun Safety Laws Effective in Reducing Deaths

Magazine article The Nation's Health

Researchers Pinpoint Gun Safety Laws Effective in Reducing Deaths

Article excerpt

As GUN VIOLENCE continues to take lives in the U.S., new research finds gun safety legislation can help prevent suicides and unintentional deaths.

In a study published in February in Epidemiologic Reviews, researchers set out to study the effectiveness of legislative interventions designed to reduce the burden of gun violence. They gathered evidence from 130 studies in 10 countries spanning 1950 to 2014, finding that certain laws were associated with a reduction in firearm-related deaths. The study noted that the U.S. has one of the world's highest rates of firearm-related death and suicide, with more than 31,000 people dying from firearm injuries in 2010---a rate that has remained fairly stable since 2000.

The study found that the simultaneous implementation of laws targeting multiple gun safety issues as well as specific restrictions on the purchase, access to and use of firearms were associated with a decline in firearm-related deaths. For example, the study found that laws that prohibit people with mental health conditions from purchasing guns were associated with fewer homicides, as were laws that put more stringent background checks in place.

Also, states with laws that prohibit people with domestic violence restraining orders from buying a gun experienced a reduction in intimate partner homicide. Laws regarding the licensing of firearm dealers were associated with a reduction in homicide rates, but not with suicide rates. However, permit and licensing laws were tied to fewer firearm suicides.

Laws designed to prevent children from accessing guns were associated with fewer unintentional firearm deaths among children younger than 15, but not among older youth. The study found mixed results between child safety laws and youth suicide.

"Most studies show that relaxing firearm restrictions, as in the case of 'stand your ground' laws or the repealing of existing permit laws, may increase the rate of firearm homicides," the study stated. …

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