A 1995 Connecticut law requiring a permit or license – contingent on passing a background check – in order to purchase a handgun was associated with a 40 percent reduction in the state’s firearm-related homicide rate, new research suggests.
Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, part of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, compared Connecticut’s homicide rates during the 10 years following the law’s implementation to the rates that would have been expected had the law not been implemented. The large drop in homicides was found only in firearm-related killings, not in homicides by other means, as would be expected if the law drove the reduction.
The findings are published online June 11 in the American Journal of Public Health, and will be discussed at a press conference hosted by Faiths United Against Gun Violence at the National Cathedral in Washington on June 11 at 4 p.m.
The Connecticut law requires all prospective handgun purchasers to apply for a permit in person with the local police regardless of whether the seller of the handgun is a licensed dealer or private seller. It also raised the handgun purchasing age from 18 to 21 years and required prospective purchasers to complete at least eight hours of approved handgun safety training.
“Permit-to-purchase laws, which require prospective handgun purchasers to first obtain a license from the police after passing a comprehensive background check, appear to reduce the availability of handguns to criminals and other people who are not legally permitted to buy guns,” says study author Dr. Daniel Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research. “Licensing handgun purchasers is a particularly effective way to achieve comprehensive background checks and keep people from buying guns for people who are not legally allowed to own them.”