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Gun Control Policies


Background information

Gun violence is any violence performed with a firearm, such as a handgun, shotgun, assault rifle, or machine gun. Over 1.4 million people died from firearms between 2012 and 2016, accounting for nearly 44% of murders worldwide. Women are at a higher risk of encountering firearms violence from an intimate partner, even though young males make up the bulk of victims and offenders. The presence of guns might also increase the possibility of sexual violence. The high rates of gun violence in the Americas are caused by easy access to weapons, lax laws, and ineffective law enforcement. In Latin America and the Caribbean, the problem is made worse by organized crime, corruption, and broken criminal justice systems.

With 101 weapons for every 100 people, the United States has the most significant percentage of privately held firearms worldwide. Gun-related violence has resulted in the loss of 32 lives and the need to treat 140 individuals per day. Surprisingly, more people were killed by gun violence in seven weeks than during the whole seven-year Iraq War. Young individuals are disproportionately affected by gun-related fatalities, which cause early mortality. The US healthcare system is significantly burdened by injuries caused by gun violence, which may cost up to $2.3 billion annually. A $100 billion yearly cost of gun violence is connected. With more than 39,000 men, women, and children killed by firearms yearly, the US has allowed gun violence to become a human rights problem. Each day, more than 360 people who have been shot at least make it to a hospital. The US has much higher rates of firearm homicides than other developed countries. In addition, communities of color and young black males are disproportionately affected by gun violence. Even though the US Constitution’s Second Amendment protects it, there has been debate about it because of concerns about public safety. Despite calls for stricter gun laws, there has not been much legislative progress since the Gun Control Act of 1968 was passed. The ongoing discussion is exacerbated by the lack of policies like a federal weapons registry and varying state laws governing the open carry of firearms. Mass shootings and other prominent occurrences have occurred in the US, but efforts to restrict weapons have come under fire for allegedly infringing on Second Amendment rights.

Importance of assessing gun control policies

With high gun-related fatalities and injuries, gun violence is a severe issue in the US. There are conflicting views on the best strategy to handle the problem, and the success of gun restriction legislation in decreasing gun violence has been a subject of discussion for many years. To create solutions and policies based on reliable data that can lessen gun violence in the United States, it is essential to evaluate the efficacy of existing gun control measures, given the high stakes involved.

Anyone may review gun control laws to determine which rules successfully lower gun violence and which need to be changed or rethought. One may also attempt to develop a more nuanced and educated understanding of the complicated link between firearms, violence, and policy by looking at the presumptions and prejudices that underlie the discussion on gun control. Examining gun control policies can also identify unintended consequences, such as limiting access to firearms for lawful gun owners or encouraging illegal gun trafficking. In the end, we can make better judgments and create more effective policies that lower the rate of gun violence in the United States by systematically examining the efficacy of gun control measures.

Thesis statement

This research article seeks to critically evaluate the underlying assumptions and biases in previous studies while analyzing the impact of gun control measures on decreasing gun violence in the United States through a thorough review of secondary data. This study aims to provide insights into the complex interplay of factors that influence the effectiveness of gun control policies and contribute to the development of evidence-based solutions to reduce gun violence in the United States by examining the relationship between gun control policies and gun violence in the context of state and local variations.

Literature Review


With high gun-related fatalities and injuries, gun violence has long been an issue in the United States. Scholars, legislators, and the general public have disagreed on the effectiveness of gun control legislation in lowering gun violence. With an emphasis on identifying the underlying assumptions and biases in prior studies, this literature review offers an overview of the current research on the connection between gun control laws and gun violence in the United States.

Gun Policies in the United States

Federal Laws

Numerous federal statutes have strict regulations governing the purchase of firearms from licensed retailers. Both the Federal Weapons Act of 1938 and the Gun Control Act of 1968 set rules for the sale of weapons, limiting interstate sales of firearms to dealers holding FFLs and requiring firms selling firearms to get FFLs. The Gun Control Act also instituted several additional rules, including banning the purchase of weapons by several people and making it unlawful to sell or transfer a handgun to a person who is not authorized to own one. Additionally, purchasers must not sign a document stating they are not barred from obtaining firearms by law or have a criminal record.

The Gun Control Act, however, did not control private gun owners’ transfers of guns. A person must be at least 18 years old to acquire a long gun from a licensed seller and at least 21 years old to buy a handgun from a licensed seller, according to the age limitations set out in the legislation.

The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 reduced the minimum age to own a pistol from 21 to 18 due to the Youth Handgun Safety Act. A policy that results in the expulsion of any student who takes a handgun to school must be adopted by schools receiving federal education dollars, according to the Gun-Free Schools Act, which was also passed in 1994.

The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, passed in 1993, established several new rules and regulations for the sale and purchase of firearms, including a 5-day waiting period before a licensed seller could transfer a gun to a buyer and background checks that were necessary for anyone wishing to buy a firearm from an authorized gun dealer. Although the Brady Act did not mandate background checks for private gun owners’ weapons transfers, the Gun Control Act did.

The Brady Act created the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) of the FBI to carry out the required background checks. Since its inception in 1998, NICS has performed over 200 million background checks and rejected around 1.1 million transactions.

State Laws

According to research on state gun regulations, around 3,200 pieces of legislation were introduced between 1990 and 2014, some of which attempted to loosen or tighten limits on firearms. Gun sales often occur in one of two ways: through regulated businesses or private dealers. Although personal firearms sales are not covered by federal rules that govern licensed sellers, certain states have made an effort to do so. Three categories of state legislation, which apply to both licensed and unauthorized vendors selling guns, are as follows:

Purchase Permit (PTP): PTP laws, which call for people to get permits or licenses and submit to background checks before purchasing handguns from licensed retailers or private sellers, are present in around 11 states. State PTP regulations vary; some call for in-person applications, while others authorize online or postal applications. The minimum age required by federal law to acquire a firearm is 21. Thus children under 21 are exempt from these rules.

Background Checks: The Brady Act forbids private gun owners from being subjected to the requirement that anybody acquiring a handgun from a licensed gun dealer undergo a background check. Around 17 states and the District of Columbia have approved more vital background check rules for private sellers due to attempts by specific conditions to enhance the reviews. For instance, all sales, transfers, inheritance, and weapons losses involving Massachusetts citizens must be reported to the Weapons Record Bureau.

Laws governing Child Access Prevention (CAP): It is forbidden to keep firearms in a way that makes them readily available to children under CAP rules, which are designed to stop children from getting access to weapons. Twenty-six states and the District of Columbia have approved CAP laws since 1981. However, CAP laws vary from state to state concerning things like the need to store a gun safely or the criminal responsibility of gun owners if a child has access to a weapon, which can result in fines, jail time, or both.

Effectiveness of State and Federal Legislation

The research has seldom examined the effectiveness of federal and state gun control measures. Cook and Ludwig (2013) investigated to compare the rates of murders and suicides in 32 states with those in 18 states that already had background checks in place when the Brady Act was passed. Except for the suicide rates for persons 55 and older, they discovered no discernible difference in the lowering of homicide trends between the two sets of states. The Brady Act may have affected rates of teenage homicide and suicide. However, this study only contained information on persons aged 21 and older. Further research by Marvell (2001) discovered that adolescent gun possession restrictions had little to no effect on crime statistics, such as youth gun killings.

In terms of state legislation, research of Connecticut’s Permit to Purchase (PTP) statute discovered a decrease in homicide rates. Still, a review of Missouri’s repeal of its PTP law found an increase in firearm homicides and the diversion of firearms to criminals. These studies, however, did not pay particular attention to killings and gun violence involving young people. Studies on Child Access Prevention (CAP) regulations, on the other hand, have revealed decreases in adolescent suicides, unintentional gunshot fatalities of children, and reports of teenagers carrying guns.

Differing Perspectives on the effectiveness of Gun Policies

Whether gun control laws are successful is frequently politicized, with proponents on both sides making emotive arguments. However, considering the underlying presumptions and prejudices that influence the idea is necessary for a more comprehensive view of the problem. For instance, some gun control advocates could believe that restricting access to weapons will necessarily decrease gun violence. Opponents might think owning a gun is a fundamental right that should not be determined.

Assumptions and Biases

Many different and intricate presumptions and assumptions underpin the discussion of gun control laws. For instance, several studies have ignored alternative forms of gun violence, including suicide and unintentional shootings, in favor of focusing on the connection between gun control laws and gun homicides. Incomplete or biased data sources, like police reports or surveys, may also be used in research, which may not fully reflect the scale of gun violence in the US.


In summary, the data currently available on the efficacy of gun control laws in decreasing gun violence in the United States is complicated and multidimensional, with varying views, underlying assumptions, and biases. A more thorough understanding of the complex link between guns, violence, and policy would require more study. Future research can contribute to developing a better informed and evidence-based strategy for decreasing gun violence in the United States by critically analyzing earlier studies’ underlying assumptions and biases.


Research Design

To evaluate how well gun control laws reduce gun violence in the United States, this study will employ a quantitative research approach and depend on secondary data sources. The study will analyze state-level data using a cross-sectional research approach.

Data Sources and Collection

The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program, and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence are just a few of the secondary data sources that will be used in this study. These resources offer a comprehensive dataset on state-level gun-related fatalities, injuries, and laws.

Data Analysis

The study will utilize several statistical methods to investigate the connection between state-level gun laws and gun violence. Multiple regression analysis, which controls for other factors, including poverty, unemployment, and demographic traits that can affect gun violence, will be used in the main comments. The study will use several descriptive methods to look at state-level variances in gun laws and violence.

The Variables

The research will concentrate on several important factors, such as concealed carry legislation, waiting periods, and background checks for gun purchases. The study will also examine the effects of gun violence, such as suicides, murders, and unintentional shootings. Rates of poverty, unemployment, and demographic traits like age, race, and gender will all be included as control variables.

Limitations of the Research Method

The reliability and accessibility of secondary data sources place constraints on the investigation. There might be measurement mistakes or biases in the statistics, and the data sources could not fully reflect the scale of gun violence in the United States. Additionally, additional confounding factors may affect both variables, making it impossible for the study to demonstrate causal links between gun control laws and gun violence.

Ethical Considerations of the Research

The study will abide by ethical standards for secondary data sources, which include securing the required authorizations and guaranteeing that data is de-identified to safeguard individual privacy. The study will also refrain from sharing information in a manner that would stigmatize or hurt people or groups.


In brief, the technique is designed to utilize a strict and data-driven approach to evaluate how well gun control laws reduce gun violence in the United States. The research intends to assess the complicated link between weapons, violence, and policy thoroughly by utilizing secondary data sources and a range of statistical methods.



When a gun is involved, there is a greater chance of someone dying in a conflict. In contrast to the 80.7 percent of gun-related suicide attempts that resulted in deaths, about 17.1% of interpersonal attacks using firearms in 2010 ended in homicide. Comparatively, the most common types of attack (using hands, fists, or feet) only resulted in death in 2.5% of cases, while suicide attempts (using medications) only caused death in 0.009% of cases. As a result of an increase in drug overdoses during the past 30 years, the proportion of gun fatalities has decreased from around 68 percent of homicides to 50 percent of suicides. Suicides accounted for 61.2 percent of the 31,672 gun fatalities in the US in 2010, which is more than murders.

Figure1. Data are from the Web-Based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System
Figure1. Data are from the Web-Based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System
Figure2. 1999- to Present Gun-related deaths in the USA
Figure2. 1999- to Present Gun-related deaths in the USA

An analysis of state-level gun control policies

According to this study, states with more gun prohibitions have lower rates of firearm murder and suicide. The study examined state data from 2007 to 2010 and found that states with stricter gun regulations had a decrease in firearm murders and suicides. This judgment was made after accounting for factors including poverty, unemployment, education, race, and fatalities from non-firearm violence.

The results of research that looked at the effect of “Shall issue” laws on the homicide rate revealed that these laws had no appreciable influence on the general homicide rate. The researchers analyzed cross-sectional time-series data for all 50 states to evaluate state-level gun-carrying legislation from 1979 to 1998. Their findings, across several models, demonstrated no statistically significant relationship between changes in concealed carry legislation and state homicide rates.

According to the study, policies that limit kid access to weapons and hold gun owners accountable for doing so can reduce the frequency of child fatalities from unintentional firearm use. Between 1979 and 2000, the study investigated pooled cross-sectional time series data for all 50 states. The findings revealed that compared to states without such laws, those with felony child access prevention statutes had a higher decline in the rate of unintentional firearm fatalities among children aged 0 to 14.

In a study from 2010 to 2020, researchers looked at data from various states. They discovered that, even after controlling for variables like race, poverty, education, population density, and deaths from causes other than firearms, states with stricter gun laws tended to have lower rates of gun homicide and suicide. The findings of this study support the notion that firearm restrictions can successfully decrease both homicide and suicide, even if earlier evaluations by the Centers for Disease Control and the Institute of Medicine found insufficient data to make such a determination.


Analysis of the assumptions underlying the research question

The study assumes that measures to restrict access to firearms might lessen gun violence in the country. Previous studies have demonstrated a significant association between stricter gun regulations and lower rates of gun violence, which lends credence to this notion.

The study assumes that state-level statistics is a credible and trustworthy source of information for evaluating the efficacy of gun control laws. This presumption is supported by the availability and thoroughness of state-level data, although any measurement biases or mistakes might constrain it.

The study assumes that while demographic traits, unemployment rates, and other factors may impact gun violence outcomes, these aspects may be considered in statistical analysis.

Discussion of Results

Experts claim that the present federal legislation offers the firearms business tremendous safeguards. The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, approved by Congress in 2005, shields gun retailers and manufacturers from civil lawsuits brought by victims of gun violence. While it is crucial to avoid pointless litigation, experts contend that making manufacturers liable for the improper use of their weapons will motivate them to improve firearm safety. The majority of unintended gun-related fatalities and injuries may be avoided. In 2016, there were 495 unintentional firearm fatalities, and 25.7% of those victims were kids and teenagers between the ages of 0 and 19. Most of these fatalities happened in two age ranges: 0–4 years and 15–19 years. Most unintended gun fatalities occurred in young adults between 20 and 24. Unintentional gun injuries disproportionately impact teenagers and young adults; in 2015, those aged 15 to 29 accounted for approximately 50% of all accidental injuries.

Child access prevention (CAP) rules have been designed to prevent children from having unsupervised access to weapons and force adults to store firearms securely. There is compelling evidence that these regulations reduce firearm-related injuries and deaths in people of all ages, particularly children. It has also been proposed that making CAP law infractions crimes may help further to minimize the unintentional shooting fatalities and injury of children.

Applying preventative techniques typically employed in commercial initiatives may also help reduce gun violence. For instance, it has been demonstrated that increasing the price of weapons and ammunition through taxes decreases cigarette use; hence, comparable measures may reduce gun ownership and, as a result, reduce gun violence. To increase the solve rate of homicides and other violent crimes, additional potential strategies include implementing background checks for ammunition purchases, placing restrictions on ammunition purchases, requiring identification for firearms, reinstating the federal assault weapons ban, and mandating microstamping on firearms and ballistic materials.

Due to the complexity of the problem, reducing firearm-related violence demands a comprehensive strategy (Chapman & Alpers, 2013). While specific tactics, like gun buyback schemes, can appear promising initially, they might not lower death rates (Makarios & Pratt, 2012). These kinds of data can help inform policy choices.

The CDC was instructed to research the causes and prevention of gun violence in response to President Obama’s executive orders on gun violence in 2013. The federal government subsequently offered several funding possibilities for studies on gun violence.

In addition, the 2013 report from the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council advocated removing access restrictions on gun-related administrative data, such as information on dealers’ adherence to firearm sales laws and data on gun tracing, to identify potential intervention and prevention strategies. Consequently, additional information may become accessible to assess gun violence prevention initiatives. The issue of gun violence is more pervasive, however. Approximately 2.25 persons seek emergency medical attention or are admitted to a hospital due to non-fatal gunshot wounds for every person who passes away from one. People are intimidated and coerced with guns in homes and on the streets. Single pieces of legislation may be able to lessen certain instances of gun violence in the United States. However, for these laws to have the most significant impact, they must simultaneously target many intervention sites and be well implemented and enforced. Similar to motor vehicle safety efforts that expanded their focus to include the vehicle, highways, and other intervention sites instead of just person conduct, and saw a rapid and persistent decrease in motor vehicle deaths.

Ownership and Purchasing concerning State and Federal Gun Policies

Federal law and statutes in most states only forbid persons convicted of a crime from carrying weapons if the conviction is for a felony charge in adult courts, except for domestic violence assault misdemeanors. However, data shows that those with prior misdemeanors who can legally acquire handguns are more likely to commit violent crimes than those who buy handguns without a criminal record. The rate of subsequent violent crimes decreased as a result of a California law that was approved to broaden weapon restrictions to include those who had been convicted of minor crimes of violence. Federal law also forbids the purchase and possession of guns by people considered to pose a risk to themselves or others due to mental illness. The fact that mental health restrictions on weapon possession are frequently not disclosed to the FBI’s background check system is a significant barrier to the effective implementation of gun regulations. According to research by Swanson and colleagues (2013), Connecticut started reporting these disqualifications to the system in 2007. That practice led to a much-reduced rate of violent criminal offenses among those barred from owning weapons due to mental conditions alone.

Although it is legal under federal law for a person to purchase multiple guns at once, some worries making numerous large purchases could encourage gun trafficking. Some laws, like the one-handgun-per-month rule, have been suggested but seldom implemented. In the US, civilians are permitted to use hollow-point bullets, which are illegal for use in combat, and they may buy them without a hunting license. A Superior Court judge declared California legislation requiring a fingerprint for ammunition sales illegal in 2011, even though several localities, like Los Angeles and Sacramento, still have equivalent local rules.


Gun usage considerably increases the possibility that a violent act will result in death, making it a critical problem that needs an immediate response.

It has been shown that barring high-risk groups, such as those with histories of domestic violence or violent crimes or people with mental illnesses deemed hazardous, can assist in lowering the frequency of violence and help minimize gun-related violence.

Implementing laws requiring background checks for all gun transactions, licensing for handgun purchasers, and tighter regulation of gun shops can help prevent firearms from falling into the wrong hands.

Effective gun violence prevention requires a comprehensive strategy that combines community, legal, public health, public safety, and healthcare measures. Enhancing data accessibility and financial support will be essential for developing and evaluating policies intended to reduce gun violence.


Summary of the findings and their significance

There are many different ways and elements to the dynamic connection between gun control laws and gun violence in the US. While specific gun control laws have been passed in several states and at the federal level during the past ten years, it is challenging to link any changes in the rates of gun violence to these laws alone. According to some research, specific gun control measures may have had a negligible effect on the rise in gun violence in recent years. According to specific findings, states with universal background checks had lower rates of homicides involving firearms than those without them. Other research revealed lower rates of firearm-related deaths, such as homicides and suicides, in states with stricter gun laws. However, the relationship between gun control laws and gun violence is not always clear-cut, and numerous other factors outside the availability of guns can contribute to gun violence. Various additional possible confounding factors, including socioeconomic, cultural, and law enforcement tactics, may also impact the relationship between gun control laws and the prevalence of gun violence.

Reflection on the implications of the study for policy and practice

It is a disputed and complicated question whether gun control laws reduce gun violence in the US. The previous topic has numerous, intricate repercussions. On the one hand, the data points to the possibility that some gun control measures, such as background checks for all buyers of firearms and stricter gun regulations, may have a negligible effect on lowering gun violence in the United States. This would suggest that if we want to address the problem of gun violence in the US, we should emphasize making and enforcing regulatory reforms. However, the data also reveals that the link between gun control laws and gun violence is not clear-cut and that other factors also play a role in the issue of gun violence. This would indicate that a more thorough strategy for solving the problem is required, one that addresses underlying social and economic concerns as well as difficulties with enhancing mental health services and criminal justice reform.

Overall, there is much controversy about the precise contribution that gun control laws make to lowering gun violence in the United States. However, empirical data does indicate that some gun control measures can aid in reducing gun violence, and there is cause for hope that stricter gun control regulations will have some effect on the problem. The ramifications of the above discussion imply that a comprehensive strategy is required to handle the issue of gun violence in the United States since it is a complicated and multidimensional problem. The country’s core causes of gun violence may be addressed through a mix of governmental measures and more significant social and cultural reforms.

Future research directions

Future studies should examine the efficacy of various gun control measures between states and over time and pinpoint the most effective methods for decreasing gun violence.

The formulation, acceptance, and implementation of gun control legislation and its link to the consequences of gun violence should be the subject of future research.

Future studies should assess the implementation and effects of specific gun control measures, such as background checks or red flag legislation, and determine the variables that affect their efficacy.

Future studies should look at how views regarding firearms and gun control are shaped by cultural and historical variables and how these beliefs affect outcomes related to gun violence and public policy.


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