States that have more gun laws have fewer gun-related deaths, according to a new study by Boston Children’s Hospital.
The study, released Wednesday, also found that background checks and permit requirements are associated with decreased homicide rates, and that states with the most gun laws have lower mortality rates. Researchers hope the results will encourage leaders to pass gun reform across the U.S.
"Our research gives clear evidence that laws have a role in preventing firearms deaths," said the study’s lead investigator Eric Fleegler, a pediatric emergency doctor at Boston Children's Hospital. "Legislators should take that into consideration."
Firearm-related deaths reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention between 2007 and 2010 as well as the firearm law data provided by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Volence were analyzed by Fleegler, researchers from Boston Children’s Hospital, Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School.
States with the most gun laws had a mortality rate 42 percent lower than states with the fewest laws. States with stringent laws had firearm-related homicide rates 40 percent lower as well as firearm-related suicide rates 37 percent lower.
Despite showing these correlations, the study did not establish a cause-and-effect relationship between guns and deaths. One critic says that greatly limits the usefulness of the research.
"Policy makers can really draw no conclusion from this study," said Garen Wintemute, an emergency physician and director of the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California, Davis.
Seeing as the study didn't show correlation, there could easily be some extraneous factor not being accounted for, and increasing gun laws in a state may not result in lower mortality rates or fewer gun deaths.
Wintmute said he believes gun policies are important to stop gun violence, but in the future research should take into account factors like culture, gun ownership and gun trafficking between states. He added that research into gun laws and violence stopped about 15 years ago. That missing data might have helped establish cause and effect.
"There is very minimal research going on and very minimal funding for the research that is going gone," Fleegler said. "We need to understand these relationships so that we can take action."
Source: USA Today