The Impact of Gun Laws on Gun Suicides and Homicides

To explore the impact of state-level firearm regulations on suicide and homicide rates from 1999-2017.

Methods: Using the State Firearm Law Database, suicide rates and homicide rates were compared across the 50 U.S. States, 1999-2017. A firearm regulation index was computed which represented a count of the number of state firearm laws for the 1999-2017 time period. Generalized Estimating Equations were used to explore population-level increases or decreases in firearm regulations and their association with state suicide and homicide rates after controlling for a number of state-level covariates (e.g., unemployment rates, divorce rates).

Results: After controlling for the theoretically and policy informed covariates, the more firearms laws that a state had was associated with a significantly lower rate of general and firearm-specific suicide rates.

Conclusion: Partial support was found for the role of firearm regulations in reduced firearm violence. As with previous work, stronger support was found for the role of firearm regulations in reduced suicide rates. This may reflect the greater likelihood of legal firearm use in suicide as compared to illicit firearm use in homicide.

Project Status:

Principle Investigator:
John Gunn