Failing to account for weaker firearm laws in neighboring states made it falsely appear that a states’ laws were about 20 percent less effective in reducing firearm deaths.
New research from the University of Alabama at Birmingham shows that gun laws in neighboring states have an effect on gun death rates in adjoining states. In findings published online in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, weaker firearm laws in neighboring states correlated with more firearm deaths within a state.
“Although stronger state gun policies were associated with decreased firearm deaths, the presence of permissive neighboring states undermined this protective effect,” said Bisakha Sen, Ph.D., Blue Cross Blue Shield Endowed Chair in Health Economics, Department of Health Care Organization and Policy in the UAB School of Public Health and senior author on the study. “Specifically, higher policy differences across states were associated with increased rates of total firearm deaths, suicides and homicides, though results were statistically stronger for suicide than homicide.”
The study examined 578,022 firearm deaths during the 2000 to 2017 study period. The total number of firearm-related deaths by state was extracted from the Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including deaths from all intent, homicide and suicide.
The investigators identified four categories of laws that had the potential to impact interstate movement of firearms and firearm-related mortality: background checks, dealer regulations, buyer regulations and gun trafficking laws. They further assessed the total number of laws a state had within each category.
“A higher count of a state’s firearm laws was associated with fewer total firearm deaths, female firearm deaths, male firearm deaths, firearm homicide and firearm suicide,” said Ye Liu, M.D., first author on the study and a doctoral student in the Department of Health Care Organization and Policy who developed the empirical framework under Sen’s guidance. “Having adjacent states with fewer laws appeared to increase firearm deaths of the state.”
Sen’s team reports that failing to account for weaker firearm laws in neighboring states made it falsely appear that a states’ laws were about 20 percent less effective in reducing firearm deaths than they actually were.
Sen’s team further reports that, for each increase of one state law or policy that is different from a neighboring state, which indicates more lax policies in the neighboring state, the incidence rate increased 2.5 percent for…