Researchers at Johns Hopkins Medical School say a new study provides some of the strongest evidence yet that stricter gun-control laws reduces the number of people murdered with firearms.
The research team analyzed homicide rates in Missouri following the state’s decision to repeal its permit-to-purchase gun law in 2007. The law had previously mandated that anyone wishing to purchase a gun had to be vetted by a local sheriff and receive a license before any sale. The 2007 decision by the state legislature abolished these provisions.
In regards to homicide rates between 2008 and 2012, the research team made a definitive conclusion: the repeal led to an immediate and dramatic increase in murder rates and gun violence. It is estimated that there were an extra 60 murders per-year attributable to the repeal of the permit-to-purchase legislation.
Professor Daniel Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy Research, told BBC News that there was no ambiguity about the results of the study:
“Coincident exactly with the policy change, there was an immediate upward trajectory to the homicide rates in Missouri. That upward trajectory did not happen with homicides that did not involve guns; it did not occur to any neighbouring state; the national trend was doing the opposite – it was trending downward; and it was not specific to one or two localities – it was, for the most part, state-wide.”
The study also found another disturbing result: the repeal led to a doubling in the number of guns being recovered from the scene of a crime or from criminals themselves.
Professor Webster was unequivocal about the remedy needed to address such a dramatic increase in gun violence and criminal possession of firearms:
“This study provides compelling confirmation that weaknesses in firearm laws lead to deaths from gun violence. There is strong evidence to support the idea that the repeal of Missouri’s handgun purchaser licensing law contributed to dozens of additional murders in Missouri each year since the law was changed.”