In states with the most gun laws, there are fewer gun deaths, according to a study published online Wednesday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine. Researchers of the study say their findings show "there is a role" for more stringent gun-control laws in the U.S.
"It seems pretty clear (that) if you want to know which of the states have the lowest gun-mortality rates, just look for those with the greatest number of gun laws," said Dr. Eric W. Fleegler of Boston Children's Hospital.
Fleegler, along with colleagues, analyzed gun-related deaths reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 2007 through 2010 and found that in states with the highest number of firearms laws, the rate of gun deaths was collectively 42 percent lower than in states with the lowest number of firearms laws.
As evidence, Fleegler cited gun-related death rates in states with more gun laws like Massachusetts, where there were 3.4 gun deaths per 100,000 individuals, and New Jersey, which had 4.9 per 100,000, as well as Connecticut, which had 5.1 per 100,000.
In states with fewer gun laws, researchers reported that gun-related death rates were higher, such as Louisiana, where there were 18.0 gun deaths per 100,000 individuals, and Alaska, where there were 17.5 deaths per 100,000, as well as Arizona, which had 13.6 deaths per 100,000.
Meanwhile, the Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote on a bill Thursday that would: 1) stiffen penalties for those who purchase guns illegally for others; and 2) make gun trafficking a felony.
Fleegler admitted that he and his colleagues could not prove a clear cut "cause-and-effect" link between more stringent gun laws and a lower risk of gun-related homicides or suicides, but he said the study did show that states with the highest number of gun laws also had the lowest household gun-ownership rates.
"And states that have the lowest gun-ownership rates also have the lowest gun-mortality rates," Fleegler said. "So states that try to have gun laws that are meant to be meaningful, they seem to be able to actually have an impact. That’s an important thing to learn from."
The study’s findings has its share of critics, including Dave Workman, senior editor at Gun Week magazine and director of communications for the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.
“It sounds to me like some sort of sleight of hand from a political sense," said Workman. "If they are dancing around this cause and effect, I'm not sure that the public should warm up to that kind of a conclusion because it really doesn't conclude it, it only suggests or intimates something."
"Until we revitalize firearm violence research, studies using available data will be the best we have. They are not good enough."