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BU Study Measures Impact of Gun-Control Laws

Identifies state laws that substantially reduce deaths

51

More than 90 people are killed by guns every day in the United States. In 2013, there were 33,636 gun deaths in this country. Civilians own approximately 270 million guns, roughly one “for every man, woman, and child,” as President Obama noted in an address to the nation in the wake of the shooting rampage at an Oregon community college last October that left 10 dead.

Now, a nationwide study led by Boston University researchers analyzing the impact of gun-control laws in the United States has found that just 9 of 25 state laws are effective in reducing firearm deaths. The researchers used data from 2010 in their analyses.

The study, published March 10 in The Lancet, suggests that three laws implemented in some states could reduce gun deaths by more than 80 percent if they were adopted nationwide. Laws requiring firearm identification through ballistic imprinting or microstamping were found to reduce the projected mortality risk by 84 percent, ammunition background checks reduced it by 82 percent, and universal background checks for all gun purchases reduced it by 61 percent.

Federal implementation of all three laws was projected to reduce the national firearm death rate—10.1 per 100,000 people in 2010—to 0.16 per 100,000, the study says.

“Very few of the existing state-specific firearms laws are associated with reduced mortality, and this evidence underscores the importance of focusing on relevant and effective firearms legislation,” says study senior author Sandro Galea, dean of the BU School of Public Health. “Implementing universal background checks for the purchase of firearms or ammunition and firearm identification nationally could substantially reduce mortality in the United States.”

Study lead author Bindu Kalesan, a School of Medicine research associate and director of the department of medicine’s Evans Center for Translational Epidemiology and Comparative Effectiveness Research, says the study is the first to assess a broad array of gun laws and other relevant state-level data.

“The findings suggest that very few of the existing state gun-control laws actually reduce gun deaths, highlighting the importance of focusing on relevant and effective gun legislation,” notes Kalesan. “Background checks for all people buying guns and ammunition, including private sales, are the most effective laws we have to reduce the number of gun deaths in the United States.”

The research team constructed a state-level dataset using counts of firearm-related deaths in each state in 2010, information on 25 state laws implemented in 2009, and state-specific characteristics that included gun ownership rates, nonfirearm homicide rates, and unemployment rates. Of the 25 laws, 9 were associated with reductions in mortality, while 9 others—such as the so-called “stand your ground” laws, allowing individuals to use deadly force in self-defense when faced with a perceived threat—were associated with increased mortality; 7 other laws were found to have no correlation with gun-related death rates.

The researchers used a statistical model to determine the independent association of various firearms laws with gun-related homicides, suicides, and overall deaths. They also projected the potential reduction of mortality rates if the three most effective firearms laws were enacted at the federal level.

Laws requiring background checks for both guns and ammunition were the most effective legislation identified in the study, showing the protective effect of state laws that close loopholes in the federal Brady Law, which requires criminal background checks only for guns sold through licensed firearms dealers.

Only seven states had universal background checks in 2010, while just three states had firearm identification laws that require ballistics identification or microstamping of guns that leave markings on the cartridge cases they expel when fired, making it possible to link the cases to particular guns.

The authors noted that their findings corroborated an earlier, smaller state-level study that found local background checks were associated with a 22 percent lower homicide rate.

In 2010, 31,672 gun deaths were recorded, equivalent to 10.1 deaths per 100,000 people. Analyzed by state, Hawaii had the lowest rate (3.31 per 100,000), and Alaska had the highest rate (20.3 per 100,000).

The link between state levels of gun ownership and gun deaths has been well established, but less is known about the effectiveness of existing gun laws. The states have introduced a broad range of laws to strengthen or deregulate the Brady Law. However, about 40 percent of all gun sales are estimated to be private transactions (thus not covered by the Brady Law) that do not require background checks.

Study coauthors were from Columbia University and the University of Bern, Switzerland.

Lisa Chedekel can be reached at chedekel@bu.edu.

51 Comments

51 Comments on BU Study Measures Impact of Gun-Control Laws

  • Canada Gun Club on 03.24.2016 at 7:24 am

    Population:
    Vermont: 625,741
    North Dakota: 672,591
    District of Columbia: 601,723

    Average rate of gun murders per 100,000 population:
    Vermont: 0.3
    North Dakota: 0.6
    District of Columbia: 16.5

    Permit or licence required to purchase firearms:
    Vermont: NO
    North Dakota: NO
    District of Columbia: YES (both a permit and licence required)

    Gun registration in place:
    Vermont: NO
    North Dakota: NO
    District of Columbia: YES

    Open carry of firearms permitted:
    Vermont: YES
    North Dakota: YES
    District of Columbia: NO

    Concealed carry of firearms permitted:
    Vermont: YES
    North Dakota: YES
    District of Columbia: YES (with permit after proving need for protection of life)

    Assault weapon ban:
    Vermont: NO
    North Dakota: NO
    District of Columbia: YES (Assault weapons and .50 BMG rifles prohibited)

    Magazine capacity limit:
    Vermont: NO
    North Dakota: NO
    District of Columbia: YES (maximum 10 round capacity)

    • Richard on 03.24.2016 at 10:40 am

      Lower gun ownership is massively correlated with reduced gun deaths.

      Rate of Household Gun Ownership:
      Massachusetts has among the lowest rates of household firearm ownership. Typically some 13% of Massachusetts households report having a gun, compared to about 1/3 nationally.
      We are usually 3rd lowest among states, with only Hawaii and sometimes New Jersey having lower percentages of households containing guns.

      Rate of Overall Gun Death in the Commonwealth:
      Massachusetts has very low relative rates of gun death. From 2001-2010, for example, we had
      the 2nd lowest rate among the 50 US states. Only Hawaii had a lower rate. In that first
      decade of the 21st century, over 306,000 Americans died from gunshot wounds—more than the total number of American combat deaths during World War II–a rate of 10.3/100,000. In Massachusetts, 2,179 people died from gunshot wounds, a rate of 3.4/100,000. In other words, the rest of America has over three times the gun death rate as do people in
      Massachusetts. Still, over two thousand people in Massachusetts died as the result of gunfire during the most recent decade.

      Suicide
      In the United States, there are far more suicides than homicides; there are also more gun suicides than gun homicides. Most suicides are gun suicides and an even higher percentage of homicides are committed with guns. The scientific evidence is overwhelming that a gun in the home substantially increases the risk that someone in the home will die of suicide. The large majority of those dying from gun suicides are legal gun owners and their families. Massachusetts, with few guns, has the lowest rate of firearm suicide in the nation and a very average rate of non-firearm suicide. We have the third lowest state
      rate of overall suicide (New Jersey and New York are lower).

      Homicide
      Massachusetts has very low rates of gun homicide compared to other urban states. The
      rest of the United States has 2.5 times the gun homicide rate as Massachusetts. However, since crime in the US is largely an urban issue, rural states, including Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire, consistently have lower rates of homicide and gun homicide than Massachusetts. A major problem for Massachusetts is that unlike guns used in suicide or accidents,
      which are guns obtained and owned legally, crime guns move from states with weak gun laws (e.g., New Hampshire) to states like Massachusetts, with strong laws. For example,
      some 60% of crime guns used in Boston
      were originally purchased outside of Massachusetts. New Hampshire is a prime source
      of gun trafficking into Boston.

      • FrankInFL on 03.24.2016 at 11:25 am

        Correlation is not causality.

        • Ao on 06.13.2016 at 9:33 am

          Which could be said about Canada Gun Club’s statistics as well.

      • Peter on 03.24.2016 at 4:47 pm

        I’m less likely to be a victim of a homicide because I carry. The same is true for thousands, every year.

    • James on 03.25.2016 at 12:01 pm

      The real reason guns are allowed is to protect from a tyrannical uprising from the government. Stalin disarmed citizens and them killed 20 million defenseless people, Hitler did it and killed 13 million, Mao did it and killed 20 million defenseless people.

      • Ben Pearre on 07.07.2016 at 1:16 pm

        This.

        We just need a way to protect ourselves against military dictatorships without so much pointless death along the way. It appears to me that we are doing worse than many first-world countries in both of those ways simultaneously, which is quite an impressive level of failure. Any ideas?

  • Canada Gun Club on 03.24.2016 at 7:25 am

    Canada compared to some border states.

    Average rate of gun murders per 100,000 population:
    State of Vermont: 0.3
    State of New Hampshire: 0.4
    State of North Dakota: 0.6
    State of Maine: 0.8
    Canada: 2.2

    Licence required to purchase firearms:
    Vermont: NO
    New Hampshire: NO
    North Dakota: NO
    Maine: NO
    Canada: YES (Licence required including background checks and safety course)

    Gun registration in place:
    Vermont: NO
    New Hampshire: NO
    North Dakota: NO
    Maine: NO
    Canada: $2,200,000,000 tax dollars spent on failed and scrapped long gun registry.

    Open carry of firearms permitted:
    Vermont: YES
    North Dakota: YES
    Maine: YES
    Canada: NO

    Concealed carry of firearms permitted:
    Vermont: YES
    New Hampshire: YES
    North Dakota: YES
    Maine: YES
    Canada: NO (Extremely rare permit can be issued after proving employment need for protection from dangerous animals)

    Assault weapon ban:
    Vermont: NO
    New Hampshire: NO
    North Dakota: NO
    Maine: NO
    Canada: So called assault weapons are severely restricted along with handguns.

    Magazine capacity limit:
    Vermont: NO
    New Hampshire: NO
    North Dakota: NO
    Maine: NO
    Canada: YES (maximum 10 round capacity for handguns and 5 round for semiauto rifles)

    • Anon on 03.24.2016 at 8:58 am

      @Canada Gun Club

      I think you might be mixing up your gun-related homicide rate in Canada with the total gun-related deaths per 100,000. I say that because according to this (http://www.gunpolicy.org/firearms/compareyears/31/rate_of_gun_homicide) the rate of gun homicide per 100,000 in Canada was only 0.38 in 2013, and it looks like a downward trend so might even be lower now. Total gun deaths are closer to 2 according to this (http://www.gunpolicy.org/firearms/compareyears/31/rate_of_all_gun_deaths_per_100_000_people).

      Meanwhile, in the US, the total rate of gun-related deaths is closer to 10 per 100,000 (10.2 in 2014, see: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/sosmap/firearm.htm which also breaks down by state) and the national rate of homicides by gun was 3.42 in 2014 (http://www.gunpolicy.org/firearms/compareyears/194/rate_of_gun_homicide). I can’t find a breakdown for just gun-related homicide by state newer than 2010, but here’s a chart on Wikipedia with data from 2010 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_violence_in_the_United_States_by_state). Your figures for Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire all match, and are indeed lower than all of Canada, but for North Dakota the rate was 3.0!

      • Anon on 03.24.2016 at 9:06 am

        Oh actually, one little mistake: yes your figures for MA, VT and NH were correct, but if you fix your mistake and the rate of gun homicides per 100,000 in Canada is 0.38, then MA and NH, along with ND, all have rates higher than the national rate for Canada.

      • David on 03.24.2016 at 4:00 pm

        Funny how the anti gun control zealots like to blame an inanimate object for the mental illness that drives suicides….why must you lie like that

        • Ben Pearre on 07.07.2016 at 1:28 pm

          …or for the structure of a society that, for so many people, makes suicide seem like the best option…?

          Yes, I think that reducing suicide is important, but _only_ if it reduces the desire for suicide. Taking away guns only serves the observers, which strikes me as a bit selfish–and may even allow us to pretend that the underlying societal structure is less problematic than it actually is.

  • Ko I on 03.24.2016 at 7:49 am

    Ah, this is that study that not even gun control groups believe in. For their part, it’s that that reported reduction, of 80% or higher, is just unbelievably high. They’ve been quoted as saying they’d be ecstatic with a 15% drop.
    Further, this same study had other findings, which this article doesn’t list, which indicated some gun control laws *increase* the rate of firearm-induced deaths. This being another reason the gun control community is not endorsing this study.

    • ExNuke on 03.24.2016 at 7:52 pm

      When the article starts off with a blatant falsehood how can you expect anything except more propaganda? Every major Gun Ban group for the last 10 years has been using the 250-270 million guns in the US totally ignoring the record sales that their efforts have generated. Does the “BU” stand for Bogus and Unrealistic?

  • Anonymous on 03.24.2016 at 8:16 am

    The truth, in my humble opinion, is that regardless of the laws that actual law-abiding citizens will need to follow to exercise their second amendment rights there will always be those who do not abide by those same laws. So while we can have the best background checks in the world, guns will still find a way to get into the hands of a bad guy. Does that mean we shouldn’t bother trying? Of course not, and universal background checks would be a good step in the right direction. The problem comes when you have states like MA that take over-reaching steps in the wrong direction. In order to get a license to carry in Boston, you have to:

    -Pass a background check
    -Pay a $100 application fee
    -Pay $50 for a gun safety class
    -Pay $100 to go to an approved range and properly shoot and handle a revolver
    -Find two references
    -Join a gun club, which could take weeks to do depending on how booked the gun club is and at least $150 to join in most cases
    -Write a letter to the Chief telling them why you feel you need one (the most absurd requirement of all)

    So altogether you pay roughly $400 and chances are you won’t even get a “Real” license to carry, just one for sport and target. Those are the types of legislation that do more harm than good. When you start making it a deterrent to law-abiding citizens by making it expensive and difficult to protect themselves, while criminals can just go to the black market and get whatever they want, it becomes a bit unfair.

    Anyway, background checks are a good middle ground, though not perfect. They’re not perfect because if you go through a rough patch in your life (divorce, loss of a job, death of a family member) and go voluntarily see a counselor for depression, you run the risk of not passing a background check because you may be deemed unfit to carry a weapon, which is unfair and deters that person from seeking help in the first place.

    • Uncle Lar on 03.24.2016 at 2:21 pm

      In other words Boston hates poor people and sees no compelling reason to allow them to have access to affordable self defense.
      And too, because minorities tend to fall on the lower end of the economic curve, Boston is racist.

    • Ko I on 03.27.2016 at 7:46 am

      Well, before we really consider universal background checks, we need to address the effectiveness of existing ones. Whether it’s because nearly all denied background checks are false negatives, or because the ATF/FBI are uninterested in enforcing the law, ~0.2% of denied background checks will result in any follow-up by LEOs, and denied background checks are less than a percent of all background checks.
      We cannot measure the positive effect of background checks on illegal firearm sales/transfers, and nor can we accurately measure how much background checks have increased home and car break-ins for the purpose of stealing firearms.
      Our existing background checks have such an insignificant effect, however, that even if they’re done in ten times as many transfers as they are, today, the result will be so small as to be statistically invisible.

  • DA Lynch on 03.24.2016 at 8:35 am

    Please notice the information noted above!
    Any of those states have Mass shootings!

    No . . .

    More gun control will not help the problem. Getting mental health issues back on the table and places to treat the mentally ill will!

  • Anonymous on 03.24.2016 at 9:11 am

    In my opinion, almost all of these laws would be utterly useless. First of all, universal background checks is the only feasible law and the only law that may do what is claimed in this article. Secondly, microstamping will not reduce gun deaths by 84%. The microstamp is on the brass simple solution, pick up your brass? Micro stamping also won’t matter because someone is already dead. There are also hundreds of millions of guns in the US without this technology so how is it expected to get this technology on all guns? Lastly, background checks when buying ammo is ridiculous and useless. So many people hand load their own ammunition, why couldn’t a shooter do the same. You do the math, but it sounds like to me all that is happening is my rights as a law abiding citizen are being infringed upon.

    • ExNuke on 03.24.2016 at 7:59 pm

      Until some magician comes up with a way to convince criminals and lunatics to comply with another law they laugh at there can be no such thing as a Universal Background Check, you can only compile a list of normal law abiding people. Now why would the Government need such a list? They can get back to us when they propose opening the NICS database to free, anonymous access by private unlicensed citizens. Their Brady Bill would not have made that illegal if they really wanted people to verify that a gun buyer was not a “prohibited person”.

    • Ko I on 03.27.2016 at 7:51 am

      …or toss a handful of brass you picked up at the range all over the scene of the crime, sending the police on a dozen wild goose chases… …or file the microstamp off of the firing pin… …or replace the firing pin with a non-microstamping pin… …or even rely on the fact that the company that created the technology, and is the one pushing so hard to get it spread around the world for their own benefit, admits that ~70% of the stampings are unreadable.

  • Mark Gman on 03.24.2016 at 9:27 am

    The most interesting thing about this article is that it’s published in Lancet, a highly respected scientific journal. That shows you cannot necessarily believe something even though it is supported by scientist, scientific journals, and supposed scientific research.

  • Spencer Car on 03.24.2016 at 10:00 am

    OK, you guys realize this study has already been completely discredited don’t you?

  • Susan Cleaver on 03.24.2016 at 10:22 am

    Time to move in some other directions here. Pressure on the gun manufacturers (mainly from their major purchasers, law enforcement agencies) to move in the direction of “smarter” gun technology should be pursued. Movements in this direction are gaining traction in Massachusetts and elsewhere as evidenced by the activities described here: http://donotstandidlyby.org/our-goals/

    • jim smith on 03.24.2016 at 11:04 am

      Guns are really pretty simple mechanical devices. If criminals can fabricate and install scanners on credit and debit card readers, I doubt they would have any trouble defeating some electronic trigger control that engages a mechanical firing pin against a cartridge primer.

    • Ko I on 03.27.2016 at 8:14 am

      Push them onto the police, first. When there’s a so-called “smart” gun that has a zero or near-zero failure rate, over a five year period, in the hands of 10% of the LEOs in the country, you’ll see civilians start adopting them, too.
      Further, put liability for failures of the system, both when firing when it should not, and when not firing when it should, upon the maker and designer of the system, and you’ll see traction with civilians, because it will mean the makers have massive incentive to be sure there is exactly zero chance of the system failing before they release the product.
      Because, as things stand now, only a fool would buy a “smart” gun.

    • Spencer Car on 03.27.2016 at 4:36 pm

      When you see cops using ‘smart guns’ on a daily basis, then you will know they are ready for ‘prime time’.

      Until then they are very expensive novelty items, like a self-driving car. No one in their right mind would trust it without a backup of some kind.

      Also, smart guns will not stop criminals shooting other criminals, or suicides, which make up 90% of all ‘gun deaths’.

      To think that a criminal won’t be able to deactivate a stolen ‘smart gun’ is ridiculous and it won;t stop a suicide from using their own gun against themselves.

      In reality, cops are the only ones who have a significant chance of having their own gun used against them. That is the sole place a ‘smart gun’ might actually save lives.

  • jim smith on 03.24.2016 at 10:30 am

    Re: “In 2013, there were 33,636 gun deaths in this country”

    Yes, according to the CDC, in 2013 there were 33636 deaths from firearms and most were suicides while 11208 were homicides. If someone wants to kill themselves it’s a matter of individual choice where the person can pick the time, place and method and an argument can also be made that an individual’s life belongs to them exclusively and not you, the State or anyone else. Note also that the number of suicides committed with firearms (21175) is almost equal to the number committed by other means (19774) so as long as there are other options, it’s not clear that restricting firearms would have any effect on the number of suicides.

    Homicides are a different story. 11208 people murdered by firearms in the US works out to about 31 people per day. These are the “word doctored” figures the news media and anti-gun folks like to publicize because people relate to the magnitude of those numbers and it sounds like a lot of people until you realize this is out of a population of 319 million Americans. In that context, it works out to about 1 person out of every 28,000 people being murdered by a firearm. Dwell on the magnitude of your individual significance next time you are in a stadium with 28,000 people. To me, 1 in 28,000 is an acceptable cost to help ensure the security of a free state and the right to own a firearm that has harmed no one. It is also estimated there are 70 million gun owners in the US which means on any given day 69,999,969 gun owners didn’t kill anyone yet because the news media magnifies these relatively isolated and infrequent events to the level of an epidemic, the anti-gun folks answer is to take the guns away from people who harmed no one. The number of firearm homicides will never be zero. So given the fact that deranged individuals and murderers are an intrinsic part of the human race and we currently live in a free society, what number of illegal firearm homicides would ever be acceptable to you to the point you would say “we don’t need any more restrictions on the private ownership of firearms”?

    • Ko I on 03.27.2016 at 8:26 am

      My addendum:
      Suicide is not a factor of the tools available, but of the desire to use a tool in an unfortunate way. Remove one tool, and there are countless others, including gravity. You can argue it could reduce the number of successful attempts, but it will not reduce the number of attempts.
      70 million, as a figure for the number of law-abiding gun owners, is lower than the most conservative estimates from before the Obama Fever gun buying craze. It is almost certainly over 100 million, today, making the scarcity of murder via firearm even greater.
      The thing that gun control proponents seem to fail to grasp is that reducing the rate of murder via firearm does not necessarily mean reducing the general murder rate. If you somehow go from 50 murders via firearm and 50 other murders, to 0 murders via firearm and 100 other murders, you’ve accomplished nothing.

  • jim smith on 03.24.2016 at 10:32 am

    Re: “universal background checks”

    Currently, there are only 2 ways to legally sell a gun in the US to a private citizen. One is a private sale between individuals (typically like between family and friends) or by a gun dealer licensed with a Federal Firearms License (FFL) from the federal BATF. Only individuals with an FFL can run a background check through the government NICS database of prohibited persons. Private citizens cannot. Note that a person can purchase a firearm online, but the physical transfer of the firearm still must go through an FFL at the seller or an FFL local to the buyer. So anyone wanting to improve the process should encourage the federal government to do 2 things:

    1) Allow any small gun dealer to get an FFL without having a storefront. Currently, thanks to the Clinton administration’s effort to reduce the supply of guns, you can’t get an FFL if you want to sell guns only at gun shows (Google BATFE form 5310 FFL application and look at question 18a). As a result someone that wants to sell guns but can’t afford the inventory costs, zoning challenges and overhead of a storefront has to sell illegally or discretely at the edge of the law as a “private individual” and hence can’t run a background check. Rather than throwing these “kitchen table” sellers out of the system like Clinton did hoping they would go away, they should allow them to get an FFL and subject them to BATF rules, audits and oversight like they were before the Clinton administration let political anti-gun ideology get in the way.

    2) Give anyone free, public, anonymous online access to the NICS database. I don’t understand why a federal database of people prohibited from owning firearms can’t be available in the public domain like federal databases for sex offenders. Unlike the sex offender database, the NICS system is really a go/no go process and no useful information has to be displayed to facilitate phishing expeditions for identity theft other than what was already known by the user making the query. It’s certainly no more revealing than the FAA’s pilot and mechanic license query system, which provides more detailed information on presumably law-abiding citizens. Once this system is implemented, you then tell private sellers if you sell or give a firearm to someone and don’t retain documented proof that says you did a favorable NICS check on the buyer, you could be held liable if they commit a gun-related crime. This would effectively close the so-called private sale loophole and still preserve the anonymity of the parties involved the same way the current background check system does now. If a private sale firearm shows up at a crime scene, the BATF follows their current procedure of using the serial number of the firearm to contact the manufacturer and ultimately the last FFL that sold the firearm to a private citizen to obtain that citizen’s name and address from the ATF form 4473 the FFL is required to keep on file. That citizen is then contacted and produces the piece of paper from the NICS background check that identifies the second private citizen who is then contacted, and so forth.

    The real benefit of this proposal is how it can help identify the illusive killer with questionable behavior patterns or mental health issues that is causing so many problems. As it stands now there is no easy, fast, non-bureaucratic method for someone to determine if a suspicious person (client, neighbor, employee, student, etc) is a potential threat to society. If someone thinks an individual could be a threat, a query to a public NICS database would at least tell him or her in a few seconds if the individual could obtain a firearm. Then, armed with that information the appropriate authorities could be notified and they could decide if it was erroneous information or whether to investigate further. As it stands now, if you tell authorities you know a suspicious person they will probably ignore you, but if you tell them you know such a person and by the way according to the NICS database he can buy a firearm, they will probably be more inclined to investigate rather than risk embarrassment later if the worst happens. The same would be true if you see a suspicious acquaintance with a firearm when the NICS query says he’s prohibited from having one. It would also help provide piece of mind and a method for victims of violent crimes to ensure their assailants either on parole or still at large have not been excluded from the database because of some bureaucratic foul-up.
    Other specific public safety issues where it would be useful are:

     allow potential victims to vet known stalkers or acquaintances under a restraining order
     allow gun clubs to vet potential members
     allow shooting ranges to vet suspicious customers
     help prevent straw purchases by allowing FFL’s to vet all individuals involved with the purchase of a firearm as a gift
     allow mental health workers to vet troubled individuals like the Aurora Colorado theater killer
     allow resource officers and school officials to vet suspicious students like the Arapahoe High School killer in Colorado
     allow the family of the mentally troubled Lafayette, LA killer to verify he couldn’t purchase a firearm
     allow police officers to vet anyone they contact – (note the routine background checks performed by police often do not include information about firearms because they don’t directly access the NICS database)

    • Barry Kinske on 03.24.2016 at 11:00 am

      I’d like to post this on Facebook, it’s one of the best explanations of WHY we should be able to access the NICS database!

      • jim smith on 03.24.2016 at 11:21 am

        post it all you want and take credit for it if it makes it easier

    • Nobody Specific on 03.24.2016 at 9:26 pm

      The 90% figure (or whatever is told) that Americans want UBCs, is misleading. They can already do them, for every gun sale, in every state, every time. It’s not required, but available. Why voluntary? Because if people really wanted to do background checks, they’d do them. No reason to force a law upon people if they’re not going to comply anyway. Not to mention, you have no real way of determining if it’d been done (how do you check when a gun is sold?)
      Due process is legally required, and allowing your rights to be removed because of an alleged threat is no excuse.
      I personally have no issues with having someone I don’t personally know do a BGC for a firearm sale. I do have issues with the government needing to know what I own. Registration can’t prevent crime, and neither can microstamping. Those are “after the fact” scenarios, not solutions to a known/valid problem.

      • jim smith on 03.25.2016 at 9:47 am

        Re: “They can already do them, for every gun sale, in every state, every time. It’s not required, but available”

        Not true. Private citizens cannot access the NICS system to do firearm background checks. Some states allow criminal online background checks but they do not access the NICS database of prohibited persons. Only law enforcement organizations, State NICS POCs (Points of Contact) or FFLs can directly access the database. To contact the NICS either online or by phone, you need a Federal Firearms License (FFL) number. See https://www.cjis.gov/echeckreg/registrationform.jsf
        http://www.nicsezcheckfbi.gov/help/ENG/ug.pdf

        • Spencer Car on 03.27.2016 at 4:38 pm

          No, they can’t access NICS but you can always ask for a carry permit. That has the background check baked right in.

    • Spencer Car on 03.27.2016 at 4:44 pm

      at the end of the day though, these so called ‘universal background checks’ are more political than public safety.

      Even the US Dept. of Justice found that less than 1% of all illegal guns were purchased at a ‘gun show or flea market’.

      Just last year the Univ. of Chicago reported on why this is.

      The simple fact is that criminals would rather buy guns from other criminals than law abiding people.

      The first issue criminals have is that it’s way too easy for a private sale to be a law enforcement sting. Simply showing up is enough to convict a felon for intent to purchase a firearm.

      They are also afraid that a law abiding person would notify law enforcement and testify against them is the use of the gun became newsworthy.

      They would much rather by from someone they know is a criminal, and has as much skin in the game as they do.

      The whole ‘gun show loophole’ is simply a made up problem to push an unworkable and pernicious ‘fix’… namely these background check laws.

  • Mark Anderson on 03.24.2016 at 11:07 am

    If you address suicides, and inner city gun crime, the US will have a gun death record lower than many European countries. So why don’t we deal with the mental health issues, and the inner city crime issues, and leave our constitutional rights alone?

    • Joel on 03.24.2016 at 5:49 pm

      Because “crime reduction” has never been a liberal agenda. They only care about dismantling our God-given rights. What you’ve stated is obvious, but no one is willing to say the culture of inner city blacks is the root cause of criminal activity. Notice the lack of responses to your comment from this liberal university: crickets.

  • jim smith on 03.24.2016 at 11:09 am

    Re: “Background checks…are the most effective laws we have to reduce the number of gun deaths in the United States”

    The problem you have is that in 2010 (for example) there were 725000 violent criminals in state prisons and 15000 in federal prisons. This works out to a total of 740000 or about 0.238% of the US population which means that about 1 out of every 420 people in the US that have been caught have no qualms about ignoring whatever laws you pass and killing or injuring someone and the gun is often their tool of choice. So the bottom line is (1) The human race produces a few bad individuals prone to violence who just refuse to play by whatever rules you promulgate and until you find some way to identify these individuals and the courage to permanently eliminate them from society, innocent people are going to be killed (2) Because of these bad individuals, bad things happen every day to people who through no fault of their own were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Criminals will always have guns if they want them. If worst comes to worst they will be smuggled into the US from Mexico inside a bale of marijuana and sold on the black market.

  • jim smith on 03.24.2016 at 11:11 am

    Re: “However, about 40 percent of all gun sales are estimated to be private transactions”

    Regarding the 40% or 80% of firearm sales that supposedly transpire without a background check. That figure is incessantly quoted by the anti-guns folks without providing any source for the statistic. However, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence (hardly a pro-gun organization) references that statistic in http://www.bradycampaign.org/sites/default/files/no-check-no-gun-report.pdf footnote 124 on page 22 to a 1997 DOJ report which was revised in 2004 (http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/fv9311.pdf – Table 14) that interviewed criminals serving prison sentences to determine where they got their firearms. In that study 37.4% said they got their guns from private sales or transfers from “family and friends” which didn’t require a background check. This begs the question – what are the scruples of the family and friends of a criminal? I don’t know what new law you could pass to close a loophole that would force likely witting family members or criminal cohorts to run background checks on other criminals when all the parties involved will probably ignore any relevant laws. Note, in the same study, another 40.0% said they obtained their guns illegally (which obviously didn’t require a background check) while only 0.8% said they got their guns from gun shows.

    • Nobody Specific on 03.24.2016 at 9:17 pm

      When asking a felon where they got their gun, the likely response was “I got it from a buddy”. That equates to “black market sale”, so when looking at it realistically, you should just add those two together. Making it about 80% obtained illegally (* a side note, if they were a recidivist and the family member or friend knew it, it’s already illegal to transfer to them a firearm), about 17% from a dealer (FFL which checks their background – this is only valid for first time offenders since recidivists won’t pass a BGC), and the remaining 2.7% (about 3%) are “other”.

  • jim smith on 03.24.2016 at 11:12 am

    Re: “Laws requiring firearm identification through ballistic imprinting or microstamping”

    If you’re relying on this technology, it doesn’t reduce the carnage because by the time the spent cartridges are picked up by the authorities, the damage has already been done. Also, imprinting or microstamping is easily defeated with a metal file or other means by those individuals who are inclined to do so. In addition, its utility from a legal standpoint is suspect because used cartridges can be collected from shooting ranges, reloaded and reused with markings that implicate the original purchaser but not the current user.

  • jim smith on 03.24.2016 at 11:20 am

    Re: “Laws requiring background checks for both guns and ammunition were the most effective legislation identified in the study”

    The biggest problem with these laws is the failure to enforce them by allowing people who obtain, possess, or use a firearm illegally to plea-bargain away the offense. The feds are especially guilty of this. Straw purchases and lying on the 4473 form you have to fill out for a background check to purchase a firearm is a felony punishable by 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine – yet in 2010 76142 people failed the background check, 4732 were deemed worthy of prosecution and only 62 were prosecuted. Also, most of the gun homicides are caused by gangs or repeat offenders so if you want to reduce the number of illegal homicides, you should advocate for a law that would impose a mandatory death sentence on any recidivist with a violent criminal history that uses a firearm to commit a crime regardless of childhood upbringing, economic impoverishment, mental health, age, IQ or ethnicity.

  • Virginia on 03.24.2016 at 11:20 am

    As a registered gun owner in NY, which has virtually the same gun laws as MA, except they are not reciprocal, I really have no problem with NY or MA laws. In fact they probably do not go far enough to weed out those with mental issues who should not own or be around firearms (Sandy Hook, CT comes to mind). I firmly believe in the 2nd amendment, but do not think that the founding fathers would have wanted guns in the hands of those out to do harm. As a responsible gun owner the last thing I want to do is shoot anyone. All my training has been how to avoid using a firearm unless there is no other option and lives are endangered.

    • David on 03.24.2016 at 4:02 pm

      So you believe in eliminating due process, got it

  • FrankInFL on 03.24.2016 at 11:27 am

    Let us posit that in a United States without guns there would be no deaths there by gunshot. The obvious question is: “so what?”

    Do you think eliminating guns would magically eliminate murder? Or suicide? Or robbery? Or carjackings? The only things ‘eliminating guns’ would accomplish is to render the weak prey for the strong, the peaceful prey to the warrior, and the single prey to the gang. Realize what you’re suggesting here: a return to the Middle Ages where armored thugs in the pay of the local strongman pillaged the countryside of its wealth, its maidens of their virtue, and its peasants of their lives.

    What saves any nation from such a fate? I don’t know, but I know that Libya under Qaddafi and Iraq under Hussein were fair approximations, and there are others. The ethnic cleansing that went on in Africa in the last century was done largely without guns and I suspect many Africans, in their last moments, wished they were better armed.

    It may be no more complicated than the presence of guns in America preventing us becoming an abattoir.

    • Peter on 04.01.2016 at 10:08 pm

      Super! I doubt Sandro has a comeback for this.

  • Rick Bolz on 03.24.2016 at 12:34 pm

    The media insist that gun crime is the major concern of the American public today. In this connection they generally push the point that a disarmed society would be a crime-free society. They will not accept the truth that if you take all the guns off the street you still will have a crime problem, whereas if you take the criminals off the street you cannot have a gun problem

  • Rich on 03.24.2016 at 1:15 pm

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

  • Spencer Car on 03.31.2016 at 8:35 am

    Why is this web page even still up?

    This ‘study’ was an embarrassment and a true black eye to everyone involved.

    I would think BU would want to quietly make this page simply ‘disappear’ from the Internet…

  • Nick on 04.24.2016 at 12:15 am

    Per the artical, only three states require microstamping. Those states are:
    1) California
    2) California
    3) California

    Also the law is a basically a de facto ban on new semiautomatic pistols, as no manufacturer has produced a microstamping firearm. All handguns sold here are grandfathered in from before the law was passed.
    Show your work, fellas; how did you collect data on guns that don’t exist?

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