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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

BU: ‘Set’ of Gun Laws Needed to Reduce Both Rural and Urban Gun Violence

After 31 people were killed in mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, over the weekend, bipartisan legislation for universal background checks is gaining traction in the U.S. Senate.

Now, a new Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) study finds that laws restricting who can have a gun are most effective in reducing firearm homicides, but that different laws are more effective in urban and in suburban/rural areas.

The study, published in the Journal of Rural Health, is the first to show how gun laws affect urban and suburban/rural areas differently. The researchers found that universal background checks came with a 13-percent reduction in urban firearm homicide rates, while laws that disqualify people with violent misdemeanor convictions from purchasing firearms came with 30-percent lower rates in rural areas. Requiring permits to buy and carry guns was associated with 21-percent lower firearm homicide rates in cities and 20-percent lower rates in suburban and rural areas.

“Taken together and viewed in light of previous research, these findings suggest that a set of laws designed to keep firearms out of the hands of people who are at high risk for violence (especially those with a history of violence) could be effective at substantially reducing overall population rates of firearm homicide,” says study lead author Dr. Michael Siegel, professor of community health sciences at BUSPH.

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