State gun laws linked to fewer firearm deaths

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted March 18, 2013

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A greater number of gun laws in a state is associated with a lower rate of firearm fatalities, said a study published online March 6 in JAMA Internal Medicine, formerly Archives of Internal Medicine.

Researchers analyzed firearm-related deaths reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System from 2007-2010. They also assessed information on state gun regulations compiled by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

The researchers developed a legislative strength score for each state: Every firearm law received one point, with a possible maximum of 28 points. They used a statistical analysis to measure the association of the score with state mortality rates.

They found that 121,084 firearm fatalities occurred in the U.S. during the study period, translating to 9.9 deaths per 100,000 Americans each year.

The average state-based firearm fatality rate varied from a high of 17.9 deaths per 100,000 a year in Louisiana to 2.9 fatalities per 100,000 in Hawaii. Annual firearm legislative strength scores ranged from 0 in Utah to 24 in Massachusetts, the study said (link).

States with the highest legislative strength scores (9 or above) had a lower firearm fatality rate than states with the lowest scores (2 or less).

Additional research is needed to examine the association between gun laws and firearm-related fatalities, the study authors said.

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