Study finds that 3 laws could reduce firearm deaths by 90%.
Even though over 90 people are killed by guns in the United States every day, gun-control legislation remains a hotly contested and divisive topic. A new nationwide study, however, has added to the debate by presenting evidence that suggests gun deaths in the US could be reduced by over 90% with the implementation of federal laws mandating firearm identification through microstamping or ballistic fingerprinting, and universal background checks for firearm and ammunition purchases.
The study, published in The Lancet, used a cross-sectional, state-level dataset relating to a host of topics associated with firearm mortality including gun ownership and even unemployment from across the US to examine the relationship between recorded gun deaths and gun-control legislation. The study found that, despite the wide range of legislation employed at the state level, very few of the existing laws were actually effective. In fact, some laws, such as those that restrict gun access to children through locks and age restrictions, were simply ineffective while others, such as the stand-your-ground law that allows individuals to use deadly force in self-defence, actually increase gun-related deaths significantly. In the end, the study found that the most effective way to lower the rate of firearm deaths in the US was to focus on implementing the best legislation, which were the laws most strongly associated with reduced gun deaths, namely universal background checks for firearm and ammunition purchase as well as identification requirements for guns.
According to the study’s model, a federal law expanding background checks for all gun purchases could reduce the national gun death rate by 57%, lowering it from 10.35 to 4.46 per 100,000 people while background checks for all ammunition purchases could lower the rate by 81% to 1.99 per 100,000 and firearm identification could reduce it by 83% to 1.81 per 100,000.
If the federal government implemented all three laws, the scholars predict that the overall national rate of firearm deaths would drop by over 90% to 0.16 per 100,000.
Although the potential impact of these laws appears staggering, the authors advise caution because the expected fall in the mortality rate could take many years to become apparent even if all three laws were put in place immediately. Furthermore, in a related commentary renowned Prof. David Hemenway is somewhat less enthusiastic about the results, warning of statistical problems in the findings. Regardless, this study is the step in the right direction in bringing more scientific evidence into the debate about gun-control legislation in the US.
Meta Editorial Team