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BREAKING: Study Finds States That Require Background Checks on All Gun Sales Experience Lower Homicide Rates

March 29, 2019

Study Found That States with Laws Requiring a Background Check on Every Gun Sale Experienced Homicide Rates That Were 15% Lower Than the States Without Such Laws

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Minnesota chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, part of Everytown for Gun Safety, released the following statement in response to a new study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, authored by Dr. Michael Siegel and others at Boston University School of Public Health researchers that found that states that require a background check on all gun sales had homicide rates 15 percent lower than states without them.

“With serious gun safety bills under consideration in Minnesota, this is exactly the kind of thorough research that lawmakers should be studying,” said Erin Zamoff, volunteer chapter leader for the Minnesota chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “Our public safety laws have public health consequences. If enough legislators look at the research, and if enough of them listen to law enforcement and their constituents, this can be the year they make it harder to access a gun without a background check in Minnesota.”

Two Minnesota House committees have already passed HF 8, which would broaden criminal background checks on gun sales, and similar legislation, SF 434, has been introduced in the Minnesota Senate. In an abrupt change, Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka told the Star-Tribune this week the Senate will hold hearings on two major gun safety bills — HF 8 and HF 9, a Red Flag bill creating an Extreme Risk Protection Order — if passed by the Minnesota House.

The Boston University study’s results underscore that keeping guns out of the hands of those who pose a danger to themselves or others — through policies like requiring background checks on all gun sales — is an effective way to curb gun violence.

Key findings include:

  • States with laws requiring background checks for all gun sales – by point-of-sale check and/or permit – were associated with 15 percent lower homicides rates.
  • Laws prohibiting the possession of firearms by people who have been convicted of a violent misdemeanor crime were associated with an 18 percent reduction in state homicide rates.
  • Laws requiring law enforcement to grant concealed carry permits in certain circumstances were associated with a 9 percent increase in homicide rates.

Under current federal law, background checks are required only for gun sales by licensed firearm dealers. No background check is required for sales by unlicensed sellers. This means that an unlicensed seller can sell a gun to a stranger they meet online or at gun shows – with no background check, no questions asked.

Since the background check system was established 25 years ago, Congress has failed to close the loopholes that enable individuals including convicted felons, domestic abusers and people who have been adjudicated mentally ill by a court of law to buy guns without a background check. In that time, the internet has emerged as a massive, unregulated marketplace, where a recent investigation found nearly 1.2 million ads on in 2018 — including 28,818 in Minnesota — were for firearm sales where no background check was required by law. The investigation also found that 1 in 9 people trying to buy a gun online would fail a background check, but that states that have passed a background check law see 84 percent of online sellers indicate a check is required to complete the sale.

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