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

Rapper affiliate of Wu-Tang Clan 'cuts off own…

Rapper Andre Johnson, who has performed with New York outfit the Wu-Tang Clan, is in a critical condition after reportedly cutting off his own penis…

National

Cleavage complaint: Disneyland staffer orders curvy mom to…

A curvy mom-of-three says she filed a formal complaint after staff at Disneyland Resort in California ordered her to cover up her boobs. Melissa Behnken,…

Local

Supporters say man accused of robbery was misidentified

A Liberian immigrant couple charged with extorting money from an elderly woman in March will be in court Thursday for a bail hearing, but supporters say it's a case of…

International

Canadian charged in 'Heartbleed' attack on tax agency

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian police have arrested a 19-year-old man and charged him in connection with exploiting the "Heartbleed" bug to steal taxpayer data from…

Television

‘Survivor: Cagayan’ recap: Episode 8

Sure, it's called Survivor. But this season should really be called 'The Tony Show.'

Television

Jim Rash talks 'The Writer's Room' and amazing…

For Jim Rash, as the fifth season of "Community" comes to a close, the second season of "The Writer's Room" begins.

Television

'Dexter' star Jennifer Carpenter moves into producing role

The actress who played the title character's sister in "Dexter" is teaming up with producer George Stelzner to adapt Erika Hayasaki's book "The Death Class:…

The Word

Wahlburgers announce North America domination

Tuesday was a huge day for Donnie Wahlberg.

NFL

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April version

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April version

NHL

Flyers, Rangers meet in playoffs for 11th time

The Flyers and Rangers will start a new chapter in a historic rivalry.

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: A's are baseball's best, Brewers…

MLB Power Rankings: A's are baseball's best, Brewers and Braves right behind

NHL

Top 5 Philadelphia storylines for Flyers-Rangers

The slate is clean for the Flyers and the Rangers. Which is good news for the Flyers.

Wellbeing

This Week in Health: chocolate may prevent obesity…

Can chocolate prevent obesity and diabetes? Location of study: U.S. Study subjects: Mice Results: The positive health benefits of chocolate have been studied increasingly more…

Wellbeing

This Week in Health News: breastfed infants trying…

Are breastfed infants trying to prevent mom from having another baby? Theory: The act of breastfeeding not only brings mom and baby closer together –…

Wellbeing

Unexplained infertility may be caused by lack of…

Researchers have identified a protein on the egg's surface that interacts with another protein on the surface of sperm, allowing the two cells to join.

Tech

5 surprising facts about Google Glass

Your sex life could get more interesting.