Lax gun laws on neighboring states may boost firearm deaths

Lax gun laws on neighboring states may boost firearm deaths
A US review suggests strong gun control regulations reduce a state’s firearm deaths, but having neighbors with an increase of lenient regulations undermines their effect.

In 2017, 39,773 people died from gun-related injuries in the United States, in line with the National Centre for Injury Prevention and Control.

Overall, analysis indicates that more robust state laws governing the sales and ownership of firearms reduce firearm-related deaths. On the other hand, some states have relatively high costs of gun deaths despite rigorous regulations.

To research why this might be the case, scientists at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and the Boston University College of Public Health at Boston, MA, investigated the consequences of firearm laws and regulations in neighboring states.

They used the Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System to acquire figures for firearm-related deaths in the 48 adjacent U.S. says from 2000 to 2017.

There were 578,022 firearm deaths in total, including homicides and suicides, but excluding deaths because of shootings by police or other police agents.

The scientists also searched the Condition Firearm Laws and regulations Database for laws and regulations in each state regarding:

  • background checks
  • gun dealer regulations
  • buyer regulations
  • gun-trafficking laws
The team used the quantity of these regulations as a proxy for gun control strength in each state.

Protection undermined
Overall, more robust state gun laws were associated with reduced firearm deaths, but having a neighboring talk about with more permissive laws undermined this protective effect.

Larger policy variations across express borders were connected with increased gun-related deaths, suicides, and homicides, though the results were statistically stronger for suicide than homicide.

The authors conclude:

“This study increases the growing literature emphasizing the role played by neighboring states’ firearm regulations in addition to own-state firearm regulations in firearm deaths. Failing to account for neighboring states with weaker laws, occasionally, could make a state’s own rules appear less effective in minimizing firearm deaths.”

The scientists calculate that, typically, failure to take into account weaker firearm laws in neighboring states get it appear as if a state’s regulations were about 20% less able to reducing deaths than they really were.

Higher prices
The researchers write that higher prices and strong advertising regulations may lead consumers to get firearms in adjacent, relatively unregulated market segments. They say they are a frequent source of the guns found in crimes.

They believe their work supports the case for more cooperative legislation between neighboring states and at the federal level.

“I think the key message of this research is that to resolve a nationwide difficulty we need to think about a nationwide or at least a regional-level (i.e. multistate) approach, just like we may also need for the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Dr. Ye Liu, who's a doctoral scholar in the Section of Health Care Organization and Insurance policy at the University of Alabama and the 1st writer of the study.

“An ‘each status on its own’ way is finally inadequate to address one of the primary public health difficulties in this country,” Dr. Liu adds.

The authors acknowledge the quantity of gun-control laws might not correctly reflect the strictness of a state’s regulations. In addition, they note states may vary in how diligently they enforce these regulations.

They demand further studies that may use alternative measures of regulatory durability, focus on specific categories of legislation, or explore the consequences of regulations in more distant states. 
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