A recent study published this week by the American Journal of Public Health found that states with a higher rate of gun ownership also have higher rates of homicides.
Researchers at Boston University looked at firearm homicide data between 1981 and 2010 in all 50 states, and found that there was a statistical correlation between the increase in gun ownership and the increase in homicides by gun.
The study is the first of its kind following the shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., this past December that killed 20 children and six staff members. It also comes amidst a nationwide debate as to whether or not there should be tighter gun restrictions.
“We observed a robust correlation between higher levels of gun ownership and higher firearm homicide rates,” wrote the authors of the study. “This model indicated that for each percentage point increase in gun ownership, the firearm homicide rate increased by 0.9 percent.”
Researchers led by Dr. Michael Siegel, lead author of the study and professor at Boston University, say that past studies like this one had been “severely limited,” but that this study differed, “both in number of years in the analysis and breadth of control variables.”
“In the wake of the tragic shooting in Newtown, Conn., last year, many states are considering legislation to control firearm-related deaths,” said Dr. Siegel. “This research is the strongest to date to document that states with higher levels of gun ownership have disproportionately large numbers of deaths from firearm-related homicides. It suggests that measures which succeed in decreasing the overall prevalence of guns will lower firearm homicide rates.”
In addition to finding the correlation between firearm sales and gun homicides, the study also shows a decrease in overall gun ownership nationwide, with a significant drop in the last 30 years.