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Study: Background Checks Did Not Affect Suicide Or Homicide Rates

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A popular claim of gun controllers that background checks for firearms purchases can prevent suicide is proving to be untrue. Instead, new evidence clearly contradicts this assertion.

A recent scientific study in California has reached some unexpected conclusions for gun control advocates. Namely, the state’s background checks for gun purchases have had no effect on suicide and homicide rates.

Notably, suicide and homicide rates were the same in states with and without background checks, a paper in Annals of Epidemiology asserts. Specifically, researchers based the paper on information from the Violence Prevention Research Program (VPRP) at the University of California, Davis (UC-Davis). They also relied on data from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Particularly, “the study found no net difference between firearm-related homicide rates before and during the 10 years after policy implementation,” a press release states. Consequently, changes in gun control laws have had no effect on suicide and murder rates.

Background Checks Have No Effect On Suicide Rates

Moreover, the researchers write that “The findings of the current study disagree with those of studies associating comprehensive background check policies with a reduction in firearm homicide and suicide in Connecticut.”

In addition, researchers did not find “an increase in firearm homicide and suicide after comprehensive background check repeal in Missouri.” As a result, background checks for gun purchases have demonstrated no effect on suicide rates.

So, a popular claim of gun controllers that background checks for firearms purchases can prevent suicide is proving to be untrue. Instead, the new evidence clearly contradicts this assertion.

Study Claims Background Checks Are Not Working

In fact, the researchers present information indicating that California’s background check requirements are not being enforced.

15% to 20% of California firearm owners told the VPRP their recent gun purchases did not involve extensive background checks. Therefore, two of every ten Californian gun owners could buy weapons without a background check.

Significantly, the researchers think that the lack of enforcement of gun control laws increases suicide and homicide rates. On the other hand, they present no statistics to support that conclusion.

However, the study found that requiring a permit to purchase a gun can reduce suicide and homicide rates. For instance, homicide deaths fell by 40% and suicide deaths fell by 16% when Missouri and Connecticut required permits to buy guns, researchers maintain.

Researchers Admit Data On Gun Control Laws Is Incomplete

By and large, the researchers admit the data on background checks and gun control laws is inadequate.

For example, only 25% of pre-1990 criminal records in a federal database for background checks were accessible. Because of this, it could be impossible to tell if a person committed murder or robbery before 1990. Under this set of circumstances, a convicted murderer could pass a background check and buy a gun.

“As a result, a large number of people likely passed their background checks even in cases where, according to law, they should have been prohibited from purchasing a firearm,” Garen Wintemute tells Town Hall. Wintemute is the director of the VPRP and a professor of emergency medicine at UC-Davis.

Wintemute thinks some mass shooters were able to pass background checks and get guns because of poor recordkeeping. For this reason, Wintemute admits background checks do not prevent violence.

Wintemute also believes that many mentally ill people can buy guns because of incomplete information in databases. In particular, many databases only contain criminal records. This would mean that a deranged person with no criminal record can still pass a background check.

Study Finds Gun Control Laws Have No Impact

In detail, the researchers compared suicide and homicide rates for the ten years before and after California adopted stricter gun control laws. To clarify further, California first required background checks in 1991.

Additionally, researchers compared suicide and homicide rates in California to 32 other states. They eventually found something surprising when examining these figures. The researchers discovered that Missouri’s repeal of a law requiring background checks had no effect on suicide and homicide rates.

On the positive side, suicide rates in California are 10.9% lower than researchers expected. Nevertheless, suicide rates are the same in places with no background checks, Wintemute acknowledges.

On the negative side, the study posits that only strict gun control measures such as confiscation and rigid licensing laws will lower suicide and homicide rates. As a consequence, the study could inspire even stricter gun control measures.

You may also enjoy reading an additional Off The Grid News article: Concealing Your Guns: 7 Ways To Keep Them Safe And Out Of Sight

What are your thoughts on background checks for firearms? Do they serve any real purpose? Let us know in the comments below.


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