Photo by M. Glasgow.

The Roundup

Correlation Found Between Gun Regulation, Death

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Posted 03.18.13

States with stricter gun laws experience fewer firearm deaths, according to a recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine. Researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and Harvard School of Public Health used data from the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence to compare the “legislative strength” of each state’s gun policies to the number of gun deaths in those states.

“The study found that states with the strictest gun control laws had lower rates of gun-related homicides and suicides, though it notes that these findings are limited to associations and could not determine precise cause-and-effect,” The Atlantic Cities reported. “Gun-related deaths were measured per 100,000 people for both homicides and suicides based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, controlling for other factors thought to be associated with gun deaths including age, sex, race and ethnicity, poverty, unemployment, college education, population density, other violence-related deaths, and firearm ownership.”

Oklahoma is one of the states with loose gun policy and a high rate of firearm death. The state saw 2,035 gun deaths between 2007 and 2010 and has “0-2” laws to “(1) curb firearm trafficking; (2) strengthen background checks on purchasers of firearms beyond those required by the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act; (3) ensure child safety; (4) ban military style assault weapons; and (5) restrict guns in public places.”

The Oklahoma House of Representatives recently passed the “Firearms Freedom Act,” which would exempt made-in-Oklahoma guns and ammunition from federal regulation, as long as it stays within the state. “The measure specifically excludes fully automatic weapons or those designed to fire rocket-propelled grenades or other explosive projectiles,” KRMG reported. “Supporters say the bill is designed to prevent an overreach of the federal government regarding gun rights.”

The House also approved a bill that would allow teachers the option to carry guns in schools. School districts would decide whether to allow their teachers to carry firearms, and “the districts would each have to pay for the 120-hours of training for teachers,” the Associated Press reported. According to a survey by the School Improvement Network, 72 percent of educators asked said they don’t want to carry guns in schools.

These and other gun-related bills in the state come—in part, at least—in response to stricter gun regulations proposed at the federal level. Oklahoma’s Congressmen have spoken out against tightening restrictions, with Rep. James Lankford blaming gun violence on “broken families and our increasingly disjointed and violent culture,” and Sen. Tom Coburn saying, “Unfortunately, there is no legislation that will eliminate all violent crime or that can fully ensure firearms do not fall into the hands of the dangerous. Likewise, expanding background checks cannot prevent how guns used in crimes are predominately procured through stealing, illegal markets, or taken from relatives.”

Sen. Jim Inhofe said: “Gun control has historically not worked.” Researchers seem to disagree. From The Atlantic Cities:

Cities contributor John Roman, a senior fellow in the Justice Policy Center at the Urban Institute, says via email that this study is “a very important addition” to our understanding of the connection between gun control and gun violence. “In addition to the general relationship between gun safety laws and firearm deaths, the paper also suggests that increasing the number of gun safety laws increases the reductions in firearm related deaths. So the benefits just get bigger with more laws.”