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Concept: Firearm


Racism is related to policies preferences and behaviors that adversely affect blacks and appear related to a fear of blacks (e.g., increased policing, death penalty). This study examined whether racism is also related to gun ownership and opposition to gun controls in US whites.

Concepts: Policy, Public policy, Firearm, Gun politics, Open carry, Gun politics in the United States


The horrific loss of life at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012 has prompted a national conversation about guns and mental illness in the United States.This tragedy occurred less than 6 months after 70 people were shot in a movie theater in Colorado and after highly publicized mass shootings in Arizona and at Virginia Tech. These four events share two common characteristics: all four shooters were apparently mentally ill, and all four used guns with large-capacity magazines, allowing them to fire multiple rounds of ammunition without reloading. As policymakers consider options to reduce gun violence, they . . .

Concepts: U.S. state, Mental disorder, Mental illness, Projectile, Firearm, Colorado, Weapon, Fairfield County, Connecticut


In the USA, the relationship between the legal availability of guns and the firearm-related homicide rate has been debated. It has been argued that unrestricted gun availability promotes the occurrence of firearm-induced homicides. It has also been pointed out that gun possession can protect potential victims when attacked. This paper provides a first mathematical analysis of this tradeoff, with the goal to steer the debate towards arguing about assumptions, statistics, and scientific methods. The model is based on a set of clearly defined assumptions, which are supported by available statistical data, and is formulated axiomatically such that results do not depend on arbitrary mathematical expressions. According to this framework, two alternative scenarios can minimize the gun-related homicide rate: a ban of private firearms possession, or a policy allowing the general population to carry guns. Importantly, the model identifies the crucial parameters that determine which policy minimizes the death rate, and thus serves as a guide for the design of future epidemiological studies. The parameters that need to be measured include the fraction of offenders that illegally possess a gun, the degree of protection provided by gun ownership, and the fraction of the population who take up their right to own a gun and carry it when attacked. Limited data available in the literature were used to demonstrate how the model can be parameterized, and this preliminary analysis suggests that a ban of private firearm possession, or possibly a partial reduction in gun availability, might lower the rate of firearm-induced homicides. This, however, should not be seen as a policy recommendation, due to the limited data available to inform and parameterize the model. However, the model clearly defines what needs to be measured, and provides a basis for a scientific discussion about assumptions and data.

Concepts: Scientific method, Epidemiology, Statistics, Mathematics, Firearm, Gun, Cannon, Firearms


Handgun waiting periods are laws that impose a delay between the initiation of a purchase and final acquisition of a firearm. We show that waiting periods, which create a “cooling off” period among buyers, significantly reduce the incidence of gun violence. We estimate the impact of waiting periods on gun deaths, exploiting all changes to state-level policies in the Unites States since 1970. We find that waiting periods reduce gun homicides by roughly 17%. We provide further support for the causal impact of waiting periods on homicides by exploiting a natural experiment resulting from a federal law in 1994 that imposed a temporary waiting period on a subset of states.

Concepts: Mathematics, United States, Experiment, Period, Law of the United States, Firearm, Gun, Handgun


Exposure to firearms increased substantially after the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 children and 6 adults were killed. Gun sales spiked by 3 million, on the basis of the increase in the number of background checks for firearm purchases. Google searches for buying and cleaning guns increased. We used Vital Statistics mortality data to examine whether a spike in accidental firearm deaths occurred at the same time as the greater exposure to firearms. We also assessed whether the increase in these deaths was larger in those states where the spike in gun sales per capita was larger. We find that an additional 60 deaths overall, including 20 children, resulted from unintentional shootings in the immediate aftermath of Sandy Hook.

Concepts: Firearm, Rifle, Gun, Handgun, Columbine High School massacre, Firearms, Breech-loading weapon, Chiwetel Ejiofor


Firearms have been a prevalent cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States since about the turn of the 20th century. Firearm deaths, including homicides, suicides, and unintentional shootings, generally increased from 1900 until the mid-1930s, dipped through the mid-1960s, and rose through the 1990s, reaching a plateau beginning in approximately 2000 that continues to the present. Motor vehicle deaths once far exceeded firearm deaths. However, thanks to investments in research and vehicle and roadway design, motor vehicle deaths have declined substantially and firearm deaths now stand to surpass them. In contrast, there remains a paucity of research about ways in which to mitigate mortality and morbidity caused by firearms. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print January 19, 2017: e1-e3. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2016.303619).

Concepts: Epidemiology, Death, United States, 20th century, Suicide, Firearm, Rifle, Firearms


A variety of claims about possible associations between gun ownership rates, mental illness burden, and the risk of firearm-related deaths have been put forward. However, systematic data on this issue among various countries remain scant. Our objective was to assess whether the popular notion “guns make a nation safer” has any merits.

Concepts: Firearm


Objectives. We explored differences in criminal convictions between holders and nonholders of a concealed handgun license (CHL) in Texas. Methods. The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) provides annual data on criminal convictions of holders and nonholders of CHLs. We used 2001 to 2009 DPS data to investigate the differences in the distribution of convictions for these 2 groups across 9 types of criminal offenses. We calculated z scores for the differences in the types of crimes for which CHL holders and nonholders were convicted. Results. CHL holders were much less likely than nonlicensees to be convicted of crimes. Most nonholder convictions involved higher-prevalence crimes (burglary, robbery, or simple assault). CHL holders' convictions were more likely to involve lower-prevalence crimes, such as sexual offenses, gun offenses, or offenses involving a death. Conclusions. Our results imply that expanding the settings in which concealed carry is permitted may increase the risk of specific types of crimes, some quite serious in those settings. These increased risks may be relatively small. Nonetheless, policymakers should consider these risks when contemplating reducing the scope of gun-free zones. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print November 15, 2012: e1-e6. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2012.300807).

Concepts: Crime, Conviction, Criminal law, Firearm, Concealed carry in the United States, Crimes, Assault, Theft


Suicide is a serious public health concern that is responsible for almost 1 million deaths each year worldwide. It is commonly an impulsive act by a vulnerable individual. The impulsivity of suicide provides opportunities to reduce the risk of suicide by restricting access to lethal means. In the United States, firearms, particularly handguns, are the most common means of suicide. Despite strong empirical evidence that restriction of access to firearms reduces suicides, access to firearms in the United States is generally subject to few restrictions. Implementation and evaluation of measures such as waiting periods and permit requirements that restrict access to handguns should be a top priority for reducing deaths from impulsive suicide in the United States. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print November 15, 2012: e1-e4. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2012.300964).

Concepts: Public health, Death, United States, Policy, Bipolar disorder, Suicide, Firearm, Gun


We examined student support for a policy that would allow carrying of concealed handguns on university campuses. Large percentages of students at 2 universities expressed very low levels of comfort with the idea of permitting concealed handgun carrying on campus, suggesting that students may not welcome less restrictive policies. Students held slightly different opinions about concealed handguns on and off campus, suggesting that they view the campus environment as unique with respect to concealed handgun carrying.

Concepts: University, Policy, Student, Campus, Public policy, Firearm, Universities and colleges, Handgun