States with universal background checks have 15 percent fewer homicides than those that don’t, according to a new study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.
The researchers examined the relationship between state firearm laws and overall homicide and suicide rates at the state level across all 50 states. They analyzed 10 different types of state laws and the number of deaths by homicide and suicide across the U.S. between 1991 and 2016, and found a link between state laws restricting access to guns and significantly lower rates of gun-related deaths.
The study was conducted by Boston University researchers Michael Siegel, Molly Pahn and Ziming Xuan; Eric Fleegler, a researcher a Boston Children’s Hospital; and David Hemenway, a researcher at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
The researchers also found that laws prohibiting people convicted of a violent crime from possessing firearms were linked to an 18 percent reduction in homicide rates during the period of the study.
The findings suggested that laws providing no discretion to law enforcement officials in approving concealed carry permits are associated with higher homicide rates, the researchers added.
“Firearm injuries are a major cause of mortality in the USA,” the study said. “Few recent studies have simultaneously examined the impact of multiple state gun laws to determine their independent association with homicide and suicide rates.
“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study using data from within the past decade to simultaneously model the effect of multiple state firearm laws on homicide and suicide rates at the state level using a multi-year panel design.”
The researchers argued that further research on the impact of state firearm laws is necessary to assess causality and should rely upon detailed definitions of each law.
As of 2017, only 13 states had laws requiring universal background checks, according to the study.
A full copy of the study can be purchased here.