California Firearm-Related Deaths Not Affected by Background Checks

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posted on December 7, 2018
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A joint effort by research organizations has found after a study during a 10-year period that the rates of firearm-related death did not change after comprehensive background check and violent misdemeanor polices were passed in California.

Posted on Oct. 15 by the journal “Annals of Epidemiology”, the Violence Prevention Research Program (VPRP) at UC Davis and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health compared the observed annual firearm homicide and suicide rates once legislation had been passed 1991 with data starting from that year. The rates were compared to data gathered from 32 control states that did not have the misdemeanor and background check policies and did not pass other firearm policies during that same time period.

Garen Wintemute, senior author on the study and professor of emergency medicine and director of VPRP, was quoted stating firearm suicide rates had decreased nearly 11 percent a decade after policy implementation was lower than projected. The researchers noted non-firearm-related suicides across the board had dropped overall. The study also found there was little difference between firearm-related homicide rates before and after the 10 years, once policy was implemented.

This finding is incongruent with current studies by disagreeing comprehensive background check policies reduced firearm homicides and suicides in Connecticut, while Missouri, which does not have permit-to-purchase policies and repealed the background check, saw increases in these two types of suicide-related death. Incomplete background-check records, inadequate criminal and mental health records, incomplete compliance with the laws and the small sample size of the population may all be contributing factors to the researchers’ findings.

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