Fact check: Do tighter gun control laws lead to fewer gun-related deaths?

By David Sivak

Vox Editor Ezra Klein tweeted Monday that states with stronger gun control measures experience fewer gun-related deaths.

The Daily Caller News Foundation investigated whether state gun control laws actually reduce firearm deaths.

Verdict: Unsubstantiated

Several studies show that heavier gun control laws in a state are associated with lower firearm death rates. Not all studies support this finding, however, and it’s unclear whether gun restrictions cause fewer gun-related deaths.

Fact Check:

To support his claim, Klein tweeted an infographic published by The Atlantic in 2011. The author Richard Florida, a professor at the University of Toronto, found that states with tighter gun control laws tend to experience fewer firearm deaths. TheDCNF found several studies that reported a similar relationship.

These findings do not mean, however, that gun control laws in a state cause lower death rates and studies caution against drawing such a conclusion. “As our study could not determine cause-and-effect relationships, further studies are necessary to define the nature of this association,” read a 2013 article published by the American Medical Association (AMA).

According to the studies, other variables may be at play including the prevalence of gun ownership in each state and socioeconomic factors like their poverty level and economic output.

Not all studies find a correlation between gun laws and gun deaths either. For example, a 2004 study observed little association between gun control laws in a state and homicide deaths. The AMA study also acknowledges that states like Idaho, South Dakota and Utah do not conform to the correlation it found. These states have low firearm deaths and minimal gun laws.

Gun rights advocates will often contend that firearm deaths remained high in cities like Chicago even while handgun bans were in place, while gun control advocates often cite the low firearm death rates in Western countries with restrictive gun laws. Not only is causation unclear, but there’s no consensus on the relationship between gun laws and gun-related deaths either.

“Although multiple studies have examined the relationship between federal and state firearm laws and homicide and suicide rates, the overall association between firearm legislation and firearm mortality is uncertain and remains controversial,” read the AMA study.

Klein did not respond to a request for comment.

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Image courtesy of St. Louis Circuit Attorney's Office

3 thoughts on “Fact check: Do tighter gun control laws lead to fewer gun-related deaths?

  1. In this issue, facts don’t matter. It’s like Climate Change; minds are made up and no data is going to change them.

    If you desire living in a gun free society, surely you’ll enjoy living in Cuba, Venezuela, Australia, the UK or China. Don’t be fooled by the press reports on the UK and Oz; the only people without guns there are the law abiding ones.

    P. J. O’Rourke once said, “Don’t let the people with money and the people with guns, be the same people.”

    That’s the recipe for totalitarian states.

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