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Studies showing factors that decrease gun violence, and the laws that affect them. March 21, 2013

Posted by Erin Ptah in News Roundup.
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A multi-state review of the laws regarding firearm possession for violent abusers…and a broad sampling of murders that could have been prevented if those laws were stronger. Shockingly, when men with a history of violence and threatening behavior are less able to get their hands on guns, fewer women get shot.

“State statutes restricting those under [domestic violence restraining orders] from accessing firearms, and laws allowing the warrantless arrest of DVRO violators are associated with reductions in total and firearm [intimate partner homicide].

Studies suggest that far fewer American teenagers would commit suicide if gun owners were required to use trigger locks. Seventy-five percent of the guns used in youth suicides and unintentional injuries were accessible in the home or the home of a friend.”

“[S]imple things that can delay access to a gun, like mandatory background checks for all handgun purchases—including private sales—like those that would be required by a new bill recently passed by a Senate committee, can make a big difference in preventing suicide. States with such a requirement have a gun suicide rate 50 percent lower than states that don’t, even when their non-gun suicide rates are about the same.

“Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) — chief sponsor of the Violence Against Women Act, expected to be reconsidered this week — made the connection between gun violence and domestic violence. Leahy testified in a hearing that in states that require background checks for handgun sales, 38 percent fewer women are shot by their partners. […] According to 2010 FBI data, firearms — and specifically handguns — are the most common weapons used to murder women. In the U.S., 64 percent of women who are murdered each year die at the hands of a family member or intimate partner. In situations involving domestic violence, having a gun in the home makes a woman eight times more likely to be killed.”

However, consistent with other research, gun availability still had substantial independent effects that increased homicide risks. As expected, these effects were due to gun-owning abusers’ much greater likelihood of using a gun in the worst incident of abuse, in some cases, the actual femicide. The substantial increase in lethality associated with using a firearm was consistent with the findings of other research assessing weapon lethality. A victim’s access to a gun could plausibly reduce her risk of being killed, at least if she does not live with the abuser. A small percentage (5%) of both case and control women lived apart from the abuser and owned a gun, however, and there was no clear evidence of protective effects.”

“Many Republicans claim to share the national concern over unabated violence, but, as the committee hearings showed, whenever there is an opportunity to do something about it, they find a way to object.

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