Three Laws Could Lead to 90% Reduction in Gun Deaths

No smoking, no firearms, no photography signThree laws could reduce gun deaths by as much as 90%, according to a study published in The Lancet. Data from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows firearms killed 33,636 people in 2013. The study’s authors say their proposed legal changes could reduce that figure to around 3,000.

The study also found some gun control laws might actually increase gun deaths. Gun control opponents are critical of the research, citing weak statistical correlations and expert skepticism.

Could Legal Changes Reduce Gun Deaths?

Researchers looked at 25 state gun control laws implemented in 2009, then explored firearm-related homicides and suicides between 2008 and 2010. The study controlled for factors correlated with gun deaths, such as unemployment and gun ownership rates.

The team found some gun laws actually increased gun deaths. Those were:

  • Permitting police inspection of gun stores.
  • Requiring gun dealers to provide gun sale records to the state.
  • Three-day limits on background check extensions.
  • Background checks or permits at gun shows in states that do not require universal background checks (better known as “closing the gun show loophole”).
  • Restrictions on so-called assault weapons.
  • Stand your ground laws.
  • Standardized locks on guns.
  • Law enforcement discretion regarding the issuance of concealed-carry licenses.
  • Limiting the number of guns a person can purchase.

Nine pieces of legislation were associated with a decreased rate in gun deaths. Those were:

  • Gun dealers maintaining sales records.
  • Store security measures such as video cameras.
  • Requiring dealers to procure a state-issued license to sell firearms.
  • Firearm identification systems such as ballistic fingerprinting.
  • Universal background checks.
  • Safety testing or training requirements for firearms purchasers.
  • Reporting stolen or lost guns.
  • Background checks for people purchasing ammunition.
  • Law enforcement involvement in the gun permitting process.

Three regulations produced the strongest reduction in gun deaths: firearm identification systems, universal background checks for guns, and background checks for ammunition.

Gun Control Opponents Skeptical

Critics of the study say the short period of tracking can make it difficult to establish a robust connection between legislation and decreased firearm deaths. In an editorial published with the study, Harvard School of Public Health’s David Hemenway said the study was a step forward, but also expressed skepticism.

“That result is too large—if only firearm suicide and firearm homicide could be reduced so easily,” he wrote.

The study’s authors say their research highlights the role legislation can play in reducing gun deaths.


  1. All injuries. (2016, February 10). Retrieved from
  2. Kalesan, B., PhD, Mobily, M. E., MD, Keiser, O., PhD, Fagan, J. A., PhD, & Galea, S., MD. (2016). Firearm legislation and firearm mortality in the USA: A cross-sectional, state-level study. The Lancet.
  3. Study IDs 3 laws that could greatly reduce gun deaths. (2016, March 10). Retrieved from

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  • Leave a Comment
  • marshall

    March 15th, 2016 at 2:32 PM

    The 2nd amendment advocates are just too strong to allow any of this to be passed on a national level so what good does it do if the laws vary state to state

    And then they would come back and say that more govt regulation isn’t the answer anyway

  • Kim

    March 16th, 2016 at 12:06 PM

    Who would have thought that this debate would continue to have such traction over so many ejection cycles. Why all the fear that we will lose our right to bear arms? It is written into law that we have this right. If you are obtaining your guns legally then what is there to worry about?

  • tim C

    March 16th, 2016 at 2:56 PM

    Really? More gun laws? because from my point of view the more laws that you make against gun ownership the more those who want to own guns are going to try and try to amass an arsenal.

  • Sarah

    March 17th, 2016 at 11:23 AM

    I don’t live in the US so I guess a big problem that I have with all of this is a general lack of understanding over why Americans are so obsessed with their guns.

  • oliver

    March 19th, 2016 at 7:27 AM

    While I personally agree that there should be stricter gun laws, I also understand the argument that others will use when they say that someone who wants a gun badly enough with which to inflict harm, they will find a way to get one no matter what the laws are. And I am not sure how to overcome that mentality, that deep desire to have a firearm to commit a crime. I think that this goes a whole lot deeper than just restricting access. This is something that is very deeply woven into our fabric as a nation and I believe that this could be very difficult to overcome, even though I think that most of us see that this is indeed a problem.

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