Society

Study: Allowing Ex-Criminals to Legally Own Guns Drives Up Violence

| by Michael Allen

According to a new study at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, state gun laws that allow some criminals to own guns, legally, is contributing to the high rate of gun violence in the U.S.

U.S. gun homicide rates are 22 times higher than the average of all other high-income countries. Guns were used to kill more than 31,000 people in the United States in 2010, reports RawStory.com.

According to the report, 13 states that have gun laws that allow people, who have been convicted of misdemeanor crimes or convicted of violent felony crimes in juvenile court, to own guns.

Federal law prohibits felons and people who commit domestic violence, among others, from owning guns legally. However, the report says that ex-criminals can still get a gun from private sellers at gun shows, who are not required to conduct a background check. Only licensed gun sellers are required to perform background checks per the the Brady Act of 1994.

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Daniel Webster, ScD, MPH, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research and lead author of the report, said in a press release: “Many people don’t realize that, in most states, individuals convicted of violent misdemeanors with court-issued restraining orders for domestic violence or who have a serious history of mental illness or substance abuse, can legally possess firearms."

“Federal gun laws allow private gun sellers to sell their guns with no questions asked of purchasers or proof that the purchaser has passed a criminal background check. Survey research shows that 82 percent of gun owners want that loophole fixed.”