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
National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Local

De Blasio, Bratton defend city's efforts after Eric…

Mayor Bill de Blasio justified the city's response to the death of Eric Garner, a Staten Island man who died while in police custody earlier this month.

National

PHOTO: New Zealand Heral uses wrong image to…

The New Zealand Herald made a terrible mistake of using the wrong image to illustrate the tragic death of Staff Sergeant Guy Boyland – a New Zealand-born Israeli soldier who…

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

MLB

Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.