New Study Reveals Background Checks Really DO Prevent Gun Deaths

A new study by researchers at Johns Hopkins finds that the gun homicide rate in Missouri increased after the state repealed its background check law. Gun-O-Rama cartoon by Steve Benson via the Cagle Post.

In the ongoing dialog about guns and gun violence in America, one thing consistently comes out: Americans favor background checks for gun purchases. A 2013 Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 91 percent of all Americans, and 71 percent of NRA members support expanded background checks. Yet, congress has done nothing. A likely reason is that the NRA, which used to support background checks, now opposes them. They offer reasons ranging from “they’re an invasion of privacy,” to “they don’t work because criminals don’t submit to background checks.” However, a new study suggests that background checks are a reasonable, effective method of keeping guns out of the wrong hands.

Researchers from Johns Hopkins University’s Center For Gun Policy and Research did a study of Missouri, where a background check law was repealed in 2007. They found that since the repeal, there was an increase of between 55 to 63 murders by gun per year from 2008 to 2012. Daniel Webster, lead author of the study, says:

This study provides compelling confirmation that weaknesses in firearm laws lead to deaths from gun violence.There is strong evidence to support the idea that the repeal of Missouri’s handgun purchaser licensing law contributed to dozens of additional murders in Missouri each year since the law was changed.

Missouri’s background check law was effective.

Until 2007, Missouri had a “permit to purchase” background check law. Under the law, someone who wanted to purchase a firearm would visit a local sheriff for a background check. The sheriff would do the check, then issue a “permit to purchase,” which the person could take to the gun dealer of his or her choice to purchase a weapon. This law had been in place since the 1920′s. After the law was repealed, unlicensed sellers no longer needed proof of a background check before a sale.

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