Dr. Galea has long been interested in the consequences of traumatic events, including firearms. He has published extensively about the epidemic of homicide in New York City in the 1990s, focusing on the socioeconomic and racial/ethnic inequalities that characterized this epidemic. His work on firearm violence has been centrally concerned with non-fatal injury due to gun violence, including homicides and suicides. He has a particular interest in the behavioral health consequences of firearm violence, including mental illness such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
Three State Laws Identified That Can Reduce Gun Deaths
A nationwide study led by Boston University researchers that analyze the impact of gun-control laws in the US has found that just 9 of 25 state laws are effective in reducing firearm deaths. The research, published in The Lancet, suggests that three laws implemented in some states could reduce gun deaths by more than 80 percent if they were implemented nationwide. Laws requiring firearm identification through ballistic imprinting or microstamping were found to reduce the projected mortality risk by 84 percent; ammunition background checks by 82 percent; and universal background checks for all gun purchases by 61 percent.
Federal implementation of all three laws would be 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,” said senior study author and School of Public Health Dean Sandro Galea. “Implementing universal background checks for the purchase of firearms or ammunition, and firearm identification nationally could substantially reduce mortality in the US.”
Lead author Bindu Kalesan, director of the Evans Center for Translational Epidemiology and Comparative Effectiveness Research at the School of Medicine, said 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,” she said. “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 US.”
Galea S, Vaughan RD. On Looking Ahead to Mitigate Threats to Population Health: A Public Health of Consequence, June 2018. Am J Public Health. 2018 Jun; 108(6):722-723. PMID: 29741942.
Kalesan B, Sampson LA, Zuo Y, Galea S. Sex and age modify the relationship between life circumstances and use of a firearm in suicide deaths across 17 U.S. states. J Affect Disord. 2018 Aug 15; 236:105-111. PMID: 29727798.
Shultz JM, Ettman C, Galea S. Insights from population health science to inform research on firearms. Lancet Public Health. 2018 May; 3(5):e213-e214. PMID: 29653896.
Kalesan B, Zuo Y, Xuan Z, Siegel MB, Fagan J, Branas C, Galea S. A multi-decade joinpoint analysis of firearm injury severity. Trauma Surg Acute Care Open. 2018; 3(1):e000139.View Related Profiles. PMID: 29766128.
Shultz JM, Thoresen S, Galea S. The Las Vegas Shootings-Underscoring Key Features of the Firearm Epidemic. JAMA. 2017 11 14; 318(18):1753-1754. PMID: 29052716.
Worthen M, Rathod SD, Cohen G, Sampson L, Ursano R, Gifford R, Fullerton C, Galea S, Ahern J. Risk and Protective Factors for Difficulty Controlling Violent Behavior in National Guard and Reserve Service Members. J Interpers Violence. 2017 Nov 01; 886260517737552. PMID: 29294977.
Siegel M, Xuan Z, Ross CS, Galea S, Kalesan B, Fleegler E, Goss KA. Easiness of Legal Access to Concealed Firearm Permits and Homicide Rates in the United States. Am J Public Health. 2017 Dec; 107(12):1923-1929.View Related Profiles. PMID: 29048964; DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2017.304057;.
Díez C, Kurland RP, Rothman EF, Bair-Merritt M, Fleegler E, Xuan Z, Galea S, Ross CS, Kalesan B, Goss KA, Siegel M. State Intimate Partner Violence-Related Firearm Laws and Intimate Partner Homicide Rates in the United States, 1991 to 2015. Ann Intern Med. 2017 Oct 17; 167(8):536-543.View Related Profiles. PMID: 28975202; DOI: 10.7326/M16-2849;.