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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Johns Hopkins: Firearm Purchaser Licensing Laws Linked to Fewer Fatal Mass Shootings

Firearm purchaser licensing laws that require an in-person application or fingerprinting are associated with an estimated 56 percent fewer fatal mass shootings in states that have them, according to a new study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The study analyzed fatal mass shootings in 45 states between 1984 and 2017 and the association between the rates of those shootings and the presence of various firearm laws. The study was published in a February 2020 special issue on mass violence in the U.S. in the journal Criminology & Public Policy.

The researchers also found evidence that laws banning large-capacity magazines (LCMs), defined as those that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition, were associated with significant reductions in the rate of fatal mass shootings with four or more fatalities and the number killed in those shootings. The size and precision of the estimated effects of LCM bans varied across many statistical analyses presented in study.

Dr. Daniel Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research and Bloomberg Professor of American Health in Violence Prevention, is the study’s lead author.

In their analysis, researchers identified 604 mass shootings involving four or more fatalities, with a total of 2,976 victims. Approximately 28 percent (842) of victim fatalities were from domestic-related shootings, 61 percent (2,057) were from non-domestic-related shootings, and it was unclear among the remaining 11 percent (77) of victims whether the shooting was domestic-related. Most mass shootings had four to six fatalities.

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