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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

BU: Universal Background Checks Lower Homicide Rates

The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a bill for a federal universal background check law. A large and growing body of research shows that state universal background checks, which help keep guns out of the hands of people convicted of felonies, reduce gun violence.

Now, a new study led by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers adds to the evidence, finding that states with laws requiring universal background checks for all gun sales had homicide rates 15 percent lower than states without such laws.

The study, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, is the first to directly compare a set of state gun laws in one statistical model. It found that laws banning specific kinds of weapons may not have an effect, but universal background checks and violent misdemeanor laws do.

“Research has shown that the greatest risk factor for violence is a history of violent behavior,” says lead study author Dr. Michael Siegel, professor of community health sciences at BUSPH.  “Public health advocates should prioritize policies designed to keep guns out of the hands of people who are at a high risk of violence based on their criminal history,” Dr. Siegel says.

Read more about this study.