Study: Fewer shooting deaths in states with strict gun laws

Guns are seen inside a display case at the Cabela's store in Fort Worth, Texas. (Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters)
Guns are seen inside a display case at the Cabela’s store in Fort Worth, Texas. (Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters)

States that have more laws restricting gun ownership have lower rates of death from shootings, both suicides and homicides, a study by researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard University found.

States with the most laws on gun ownership, including Massachusetts and New Jersey, have 42 percent lower rates of death from guns than those with the least restrictions, including Utah and Oklahoma, according to the study, published on Wednesday in the online edition of JAMA Internal Medicine.

The study was released as a Senate committee approved new gun-control measures backed by President Barack Obama to crack down on illegal trafficking in firearms in the wake of the December massacre at a Connecticut elementary school.

Based on data from 2007 through 2010, the study looked at the relationship between the number of restrictions states placed on gun ownership — from background checks on gun buyers to bans on military-style assault weapons — and the number of gun-related homicides and suicides reported.

The most likely link between the strictness of a state’s gun regulations and the number of shootings was that in states with more restrictive gun control laws, fewer households own guns, the study’s lead author, Dr. Eric Fleegler, said on Thursday.

“One of the questions that is always raised in this debate is, ‘Do laws make a difference?’ There are many people who will try to argue that laws don’t make a difference, don’t bother passing them, let people do what they want,” Fleegler said.

“Our study really suggests the opposite. The states that have taken the time and thought to pass this legislation, we see lower rates of firearms fatalities.”

The study determined the strictness of a state’s gun regulations by assigning a point value to different rules — from one point for rules against guns in the workplace to six points for rules regulating how gun dealers may operate. The points for each state were totaled to determine which had the most restrictive gun-control regimes.

The data was compared with federal figures on the number of deaths caused by guns, both homicides and suicides, in each state.

Noting that little academic research is done on the link between firearms and public health in the United States, largely due to restrictions on federal funding for such research, Fleegler said he hoped the findings would influence debate on gun-control laws.

The authors cautioned that their methods did not prove any cause and effect connection between firearms laws and deaths, and that factors including how effectively the laws were enforced could undermine their conclusions.

Proponents of gun control argue that restricting access to weapons and ammunition could lower the number of shootings the United States experiences each year, while gun-rights advocates note that the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects the right to possess weaponry and contend that laws restricting gun ownership do little to deter the criminal use of guns.

Follow Metro Boston on Twitter: @MetroBos



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Tattooed, bearded suspect sought in Williamsburg bike theft:…

The suspected thief faces grand larceny charges after investigators said he entered the building on North 5th Street in Williamsburg.

Local

Report: Rich New Yorkers don't move from NYC…

An Independent Budget Office analysis found that the wealthiest residents don't move out of the city any more or less than other New Yorkers.

National

Pioneers for domestic violence push on

Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article. Two decades have passed since the O.J. Simpson trial captivated the country. But in the 20 years…

Local

Food truck with a mission hires at-risk New…

A group branding itself as food trucks for social justice specifically hires and trains young men and women with troubled pasts.

Movies

Review: 'A Most Wanted Man' works better when…

In one of his last roles, Philip Seymour Hoffman headlines the John Le Carre adaptation of "A Most Wanted Man," about the pursuit of a Chechen refugee.

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, July 22: 'Royal Pains,'…

Catch a new episode of "Royal Pains" where Hank has to help out a housesitter.

Entertainment

'Bachelorette' recap: Episode 10, 'Men Tell All'

Why does the #MenTellAll episode exist? Because they don’t, and it shouldn’t. Is it a lazy vehicle to sell more ad space? Is it to…

Television

Olivia Williams explains the ins and outs of…

Olivia Williams plays a botanist beginning to suspect her physicist husband's work on the Manhattan Project might be ominous in WGN America's "Manhattan."

NFL

5 players to watch at Giants training camp

Metro takes a look at five players who will be on everyone’s mind when Giants training camp gets underway.

NFL

'Vicktory dogs' travel road to rehabilitation seven years…

Of the dozens of dogs groomed by Bad Newz Kennels, 48 were rescued and 22 of the pit bull terriers have emerged at Best Friends Animal Society.

MLB

Yankees looking at trade for Cliff Lee, according…

Yankees looking at trade for Cliff Lee, according to report

NFL

Giants lineman Chris Snee to retire: Reports

The Giants report to training camp on Tuesday, but Chris Snee may not be there when they do.

Parenting

Buy gently worn back-to-school clothes with Kidizen

Kidizen allows parents to buy and sell gently worn back-to-school clothes.

Wellbeing

Ruling could be beginning of the end for…

This morning, a federal appeals court threw out an IRS regulation that implements subsidies for low-income Americans who bought insurance through Obamacare. These Affordable Care…

Tech

RocketSkates let users roll with a motor

Los Angeles company Acton has raised funds on Kickstarter to roll out a nifty alternative – motor-powered "RocketSkates."

Tech

Knicks star Carmelo Anthony becomes a tech entrepreneur

He's been an All-Star, an Olympian, and a celebrity spokesperson. Now NBA player Carmelo Anthony is adding the position "tech entrepreneur" to his resume. Along…