New research shows that gun control laws lead to fewer gun homicides, and lax firearm laws lead to the exact opposite: more deaths. In other news, water is wet, but even though these new findings on gun control seem obvious, such studies are incredibly rare.
The new study, which was published on Monday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, examined almost 50 years of peer-reviewed articles to examine the effectiveness of five types of gun control laws. Lead author Lois K. Lee of Harvard Medical School defined the categories as:
Those that (1) curb gun trafficking, (2) strengthen background checks, (3) improve child safety, (4) ban military-style assault weapons, and (5) restrict firearms in public places and leniency in firearm carrying.
Lee and her colleagues found that laws strengthening background checks had the biggest impact on homicide rates. Laws aimed at curbing firearm trafficking, improving child safety, or banning military-style assault weapons did not have a noticeable effect on homicide rates one way or another. Finally, laws that restricted carrying firearms in public were shown to have mixed results.
However, the studies’ authors concluded that, on the whole, gun control laws were “associated with decreased firearm homicide rates,” especially stronger background checks.
And on the flipside, as Popular Science notes, another study released the same day found that lax gun laws lead to more deaths. Researchers at the University of Oxford studied firearm homicide rates in Florida from 2005 and 2014 — the period after the state passed its “stand your ground” self-defense law.
Before “stand your ground,” the rate of gun deaths in Florida stayed pretty much the same from year to year. After 2005, though they found “an abrupt and sustained increase in the monthly homicide rate” by almost 25 percent.
Both of these studies’ findings should seem self-evident, but they’re necessary because any studies on gun control are extremely rare. Thanks to the influence of the gun lobby, Congress withholds pretty much all funding for research into gun violence. The problem is, in this case, what we don’t know can hurt us, and a lack of scientific research leaves lawmakers unable to confront the reality of what their various gun control policies (or lack thereof) are doing to their fellow citizens.
“High-quality research is important to further evaluate the effectiveness of these laws,” Lee wrote, expressing the need for future studies. “Legislation is just one part of a multipronged approach that will be necessary to decrease firearm homicides in the United States.”Photos via Getty Images / Mark Wilson, Getty Images / Scott Barbour