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Tough State Gun Laws Help Save Lives: Study

MONDAY, June 15, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- States with the most restrictive mix of gun laws have 11% fewer firearm deaths than those with the least restrictive limits, a new study finds.

That reduction translates into 4,475 fewer gun homicides and suicides a year, according to the researchers at the nonprofit RAND Corp.

For the study, the researchers examined how three categories of gun laws -- child access prevention laws, right-to-carry laws and stand-your-ground laws -- affected gun deaths between 1980 and 2016.

These are among the most common state gun regulations. While many states have various forms of these laws, their impact on firearm deaths was unclear.

Child access prevention laws were associated with a 6% drop in firearm deaths, according to the authors of the study published online June 15 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study authors concluded that there is a 97% chance that child access prevention laws reduce gun deaths.

But the investigators found only modest evidence that right-to-carry laws increase gun deaths. These laws were associated with a 3% increase in firearm deaths, and the findings suggest there is an 87% chance that they increase gun deaths.

The researchers also found limited evidence that stand-your-ground laws increase gun deaths. These laws were associated with a 3% increase in firearm deaths, and findings suggest there is a 77% chance that they increase gun deaths.

"It appears that state policies restricting how people store, carry and use their weapons are likely to have a small, but meaningful effect on reducing the number of firearm-related suicides and homicides in a state," said lead study author Terry Schell, a senior behavioral scientist at RAND.

"While there is still uncertainty in our estimates, these findings suggest that moving from the most-permissive to most-restrictive policy regime concerning how individuals store or use firearms is likely to reduce the number of firearm deaths," he said in a RAND news release.

The United States has about 39,000 gun deaths a year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More information

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence has more on gun legislation.

SOURCE: RAND Corp., news release, June 15, 2020

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