Study Shows State-Level Gun Laws Reduce Gun Deaths in the U.S.

State laws that mandate background checks and cooling-off periods for firearm purchases have proven effective in reducing gun-related deaths, according to a study conducted by scholars Patrick Sharkey and Megan Kang from Princeton University.

The research covers the period from 1991 to 2016 and reveals that stricter gun laws passed in 40 states contributed to a reduction of nearly 4,300 gun deaths in 2016, constituting approximately 11 percent of all gun-related deaths for that year.

The release of this study comes as the residents of Lewiston, Maine, grapple with the aftermath of the latest mass shooting in America, which occurred at a bowling alley and bar and resulted in 18 fatalities and numerous injuries.

Additionally, recent Gallup polling shows that 56 percent of Americans support more stringent gun laws.

However, a significant number of voters argue that existing gun restrictions are already too strict, citing constitutional rights to firearm ownership.

The lead researcher, Patrick Sharkey, who is a sociologist and criminologist, emphasized that the challenge of gun violence is not insurmountable.

He suggested that when states implement basic regulations for firearms, it can save thousands of lives.

The laws enacted in numerous states since the 1990s have led to reductions in gun-related homicides and suicides.

These laws include background checks, permit requirements, waiting periods for gun purchases, increased minimum age limits, bans on military-style weapons, restrictions on carrying firearms in public places, and measures to combat gun trafficking.

The study found that with each new firearm regulation enacted at the state level, the number of gun deaths per 100,000 residents decreased by 0.21.

While some gun control advocates call for federal legislation, the study underscores the impact of smaller, state-level changes.

Divisions between Democrats and Republicans in Congress make further federal gun control unlikely, as many Republican lawmakers and organizations like the National Rifle Association are staunchly opposed to extensive gun control measures.

Although Congress passed some limited gun control laws in the past, since 2016, several states have relaxed their gun laws.

It is noteworthy that, during the pandemic, many Americans purchased firearms, with approximately one-fifth of households acquiring guns between March 2020 and March 2022.

Despite some fluctuations, Gallup polling continues to show strong support for stricter gun laws among the American public.

A majority, 56 percent, believes that gun laws should be stricter, while 31 percent think they should remain as they are, and 12 percent favor less strict gun laws.

Gallup’s pollsters found that the number of households with at least one firearm remains stable, at about 44 percent.

According to Gallup, voters are calling on Congress to go beyond the limited gun control measures passed after previous mass shootings, suggesting that they favor additional proposals to address gun violence, such as extended waiting periods for gun purchases and an assault weapons ban.

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