A review of 28 published studies examining U.S. gun policy found that laws and regulations designed to keep firearms from people at risk of committing violence, such as felons and those under restraining orders, are effective and, in some instances, reduce lethal violence. The researchers also found that certain laws, including rigorous permit-to-purchase laws which require a permit to be issued before completing a handgun sale and comprehensive background checks, are associated with keeping guns out of the hands of criminals.
The findings by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the University of California, Davis, appear in the Annual Review of Public Health, a special issue devoted to gun violence prevention and policy.
The U.S. has the highest rate of firearm homicides among high-income countries, nearly 20 times higher than the average of other high-income countries. In 2013, a total of 11,208 firearm homicides occurred in the U.S., according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For their review, researchers examined studies published between 1999 and 2014 that examined policies designed to prohibit individuals at greatest risk for committing gun violence from acquiring guns, and on policies designed to prevent firearms from being diverted to prohibited individuals or to the underground market.
The researchers found evidence to support a number of policies, including those that restrict firearm access for perpetrators of domestic violence and policies that deny felons and people who have been convicted of misdemeanor crimes of violence from purchasing guns.