Society

Boston Children’s Hospital Study Finds U.S. States With More Firearm Laws Are Less Violent

| by Khier Casino

According to a study done by JAMA Internal Medicine, states with the strictest gun laws are among those in the U.S. with the lowest rates of gun-related incidents such homicides, assaults and suicides. The mortality rate in states with more laws was 42 percent lower than other states that have fewer laws.

From 2007 through 2010, the research investigated firearms laws in every state along with the total number of firearm-related incidents in all 50 states.

“Our hope is this study will help inform the ongoing public debate related to firearms,” says Eric Fleegler, M.D., MPH, of Boston Children’s Hospital, who led a team of researchers in analyzing the study published online March 6 and in the May 15 issue of the journal.

The data found that guns were the leading cause of deaths each year, with a mortality rate ranging from 17.9 per 100,000 people in Louisiana — a state with few gun laws — to a low of 2.9 per 100,000 in Hawaii.

“Critics of gun laws have said that gun laws don’t work, but our research indicates the opposite,” said study leader Dr. Eric Fleegler, a pediatric emergency medicine physician at Boston Children’s Hospital. “In states with the most laws, we found a dramatic decreased rate in firearm fatalities, though we can’t say for certain that these laws have led to fewer deaths.”

Key findings of the research include:

- States with the most firearm legislation had a 42 percent lower overall firearm-associated mortality rate than states with the least legislation.

- The firearm-associated homicide rate was 40 percent lower, and the firearm-related suicide rate 37 percent lower, in states with the most legislation.

- There was no increase in non-firearm-associated fatalities in states with the most firearm legislation as compared to states with the least legislation.

- The types of legislation associated most clearly with decreasing rates of firearm-related homicides and suicides involved universal background checks and requiring permits to purchase firearms.

- States with the most firearm laws had the lowest levels of household gun ownership.