The Spillover Effects of State Gun Laws

The Spillover Effects of State Gun Laws

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania had a hunch about gun laws: A place with strict laws surrounded by states with lenient ones would have more shootings. But the data revealed something different. Counties in states with tight gun laws weren’t affected by the loose laws of neighboring states—but counties in states with loose laws had lower rates of firearm homicide when nearby states had tight laws. “It’s a halo effect,” said Elinore J. Kaufman, lead author of the study. “If you lived in a state with lenient laws but neighboring states had stronger laws, you were a little bit protected.” The surprising findings aren’t bulletproof—more on that in a minute—but they suggest that strengthening a state’s gun laws may prevent deaths beyond its borders. The researchers, working at the University of Pennsylvania’s Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, analyzed deaths from 2010 through 2014 in 3,108 counties in the 48 contiguous states. The results were published in March in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Each state was assigned a gun-policy score based on six types of laws associated with death or the movement of firearms across state lines. The laws the researchers selected concerned oversight or licensing of gun dealers; background checks for private sales of firearms; licenses to purchase or own firearms; minimum design standards to limit the availability of cheap pistols; restrictions on purchases of multiple guns; and reporting requirements for lost or stolen weapons. Across State Lines Researchers divided U.S. counties into nine […]

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