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.
- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
- Published almost 3 years ago
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.
This study examines Americans' preferences regarding smart guns. The study builds on prior research by including previously unexamined factors, specifically victimization and comfort sharing gun ownership status with a doctor. Further, this study examines differences in preference patterns among gun owners and non-owners. Data were obtained from a nationwide online survey with 524 respondents in February 2016. The study finds that, among non-owners, older respondents and those with pro-gun attitudes are less likely to prefer smart guns to traditional firearms. Among gun owners, those with moderate political views, those with a history of victimization, and those residing in the Northeast are all more likely to prefer smart guns. Males and those with pro-gun attitudes are less likely to prefer smart guns. Education, income, race, marital status, presence of children in the home, and comfort discussing gun ownership with a doctor had no significant association with smart gun preference. Practical implications of these findings are discussed.
Gun theft is an important source of guns used by criminals. Yet no empirical work has focused on the characteristics of gun owners that distinguish those who have had their guns stolen from those who have not. In this study, we examine the demographics and behavioral characteristics of gun owners who report having had a gun stolen.
- Injury prevention : journal of the International Society for Child and Adolescent Injury Prevention
- Published about 5 years ago
We assessed gun ownership rates in 2013 across the USA and the association between exposure to a social gun culture and gun ownership. We used data from a nationally representative sample of 4000 US adults, from 50 states and District of Columbia, aged >18 years to assess gun ownership and social gun culture performed in October 2013. State-level firearm policy information was obtained from the Brady Law Center and Injury Prevention and Control Center. One-third of Americans reported owning a gun, ranging from 5.2% in Delaware to 61.7% in Alaska. Gun ownership was 2.25-times greater among those reporting social gun culture (PR=2.25, 95% CI 2.02 to 2.52) than those who did not. In conclusion, we found strong association between social gun culture and gun ownership. Gun cultures may need to be considered for public health strategies that aim to change gun ownership in the USA.
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.
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).
BACKGROUND:Many scientific studies have shown that the mere presence of guns can increase aggression, an effect dubbed the “weapons effect.” The current research examines a potential source of the weapons effect: guns depicted in top-selling films.METHODS:Trained coders identified the presence of violence in each 5-minute film segment for one-half of the top 30 films since 1950 and the presence of guns in violent segments since 1985, the first full year the PG-13 rating (age 13+) was used. PG-13-rated films are among the top-selling films and are especially attractive to youth.RESULTS:Results found that violence in films has more than doubled since 1950, and gun violence in PG-13-rated films has more than tripled since 1985. When the PG-13 rating was introduced, these films contained about as much gun violence as G (general audiences) and PG (parental guidance suggested for young children) films. Since 2009, PG-13-rated films have contained as much or more violence as R-rated films (age 17+) films.CONCLUSIONS:Even if youth do not use guns, these findings suggest that they are exposed to increasing gun violence in top-selling films. By including guns in violent scenes, film producers may be strengthening the weapons effect and providing youth with scripts for using guns. These findings are concerning because many scientific studies have shown that violent films can increase aggression. Violent films are also now easily accessible to youth (eg, on the Internet and cable). This research suggests that the presence of weapons in films might amplify the effects of violent films on aggression.
Gun shows are an important source of firearms, but no adequately powered studies have examined whether they are associated with increases in firearm injuries.
Analyses from the National Comorbidity Study Replication provide the first nationally representative estimates of the co-occurrence of impulsive angry behavior and possessing or carrying a gun among adults with and without certain mental disorders and demographic characteristics. The study found that a large number of individuals in the United States self-report patterns of impulsive angry behavior and also possess firearms at home (8.9%) or carry guns outside the home (1.5%). These data document associations of numerous common mental disorders and combinations of angry behavior with gun access. Because only a small proportion of persons with this risky combination have ever been involuntarily hospitalized for a mental health problem, most will not be subject to existing mental health-related legal restrictions on firearms resulting from a history of involuntary commitment. Excluding a large proportion of the general population from gun possession is also not likely to be feasible. Behavioral risk-based approaches to firearms restriction, such as expanding the definition of gun-prohibited persons to include those with violent misdemeanor convictions and multiple DUI convictions, could be a more effective public health policy to prevent gun violence in the population. Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.