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Background checks for gun buyers could save lives, study finds

The study found that background checks could reduce gun-related deaths by 80%.
Reuters

Laws requiringbackgroundchecksforbuyersofguns and ammunition, as well as requirements that firearms be traceable,couldsharply reducegundeaths in the United States, according to astudypublished on Thursday.

Many state-levelgunregulations have little effect on the number ofgun-related homicides and suicides. But "stand-your-ground" laws, which allow people touse deadly force in self-defense even if fleeing is an option, tend to raise the number ofgundeaths, thestudyby Boston University researchers published in the Lancet medical journal found.

"Very few of the existing state-specific firearms laws are associated with reduced mortality, and this evidence underscores the importance of focusing on relevant and effective firearms legislation," said Sandro Galea, dean of the School of Public Health at Boston University, an author of thestudy.

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"Implementing universalbackgroundchecksfor the purchase of firearms or ammunition, and firearm identification nationallycouldsubstantially reduce mortality in the U.S."

About 90 people die ofgun-related injuries, both homicides and suicides, in the United States each day. Thestudyfound that nationwide adoption ofbackgroundcheck laws as well as measures making it easier to track spent ammunition back to thegunthat fired itcouldreducegun-related deaths by as much as 80 percent.

Thestudylooked at how deaths in 2010 were influenced bygunlaws put into place in 25 states the year before.

It found that closing loopholes allowinggunbuyersto avoidbackgroundcheckswhen purchasingguns was the most effective way of reducinggun-related deaths.

Other regulations, including requiring more stringent record-keeping bygundealers or mandatinggunlocks, had no measurable effect ongun-related deaths.

Opposition togunregulations is strong in the Republican-led U.S. Congress, which has resisted measures pushed by Democratic President Barack Obama after a series of mass shootings including the massacre of 26 young children and educators in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012.

In a January executive order, Obama imposedguncontrol measures that included requiring moregunbuyersto undergobackgroundchecks.

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