Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

BU Creates New Comprehensive National Database to Advance Gun Policy Research

While the number of firearms laws has nearly doubled in the US in the last 26 years, the increase has not been consistent, with some states even decreasing the number of laws, leading to an increasing disparity in the scope of laws potentially impacting violence, according to new research led by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH).

In a study published in the American Journal of Public Health, a team of researchers produced what is considered the most extensive database of state firearms laws in the country, coding 133 different provisions in 14 categories from 1991 to 2016. The provisions cover aspects ranging from regulation of gun dealers, to background checks on private sales, to “stand your ground” laws.

The study found a 57 percent increase in the number of enacted state firearm provisions nationwide from 1991 to 2016 dominated by a handful of states, with 16 states repealing more provisions than they enacted. Over the same time, the national rate of firearm-related homicide decreased from 6.64 per 100,000 population, to 4.13 in 2015.

Lead study author Dr. Michael Siegel, professor of community health sciences at BUSPH, said the database is an important step in trying to gauge the impact of laws intended to reduce firearm-related violence. The database aims to allow for “better assessments of the potential impact of state firearm laws on firearm violence. Because we have provided detailed information on a wide range of policies, researchers can now examine the effects of individual and multiple combinations of policies.”

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