Gun Control and Lower Suicide Rates Linked in New Johns Hopkins Study

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Researchers at John Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health issued a new study that concluded gun control was associated with lower suicide rates.

The study, “Effects of Changes in Permit-to-Purchase Handgun Laws in Connecticut and Missouri on Suicide Rates,” found that state requirements to license gun ownership are linked with lower rates of suicide by guns.

In 1995 Connecticut passed a law requiring a background check before someone could receive a handgun license. In contrast, Missouri removed its restrictions for gun ownership in 2007. The Johns Hopkins researchers looked at rates of suicide in those two states and found that firearm suicides in Connecticut had been reduced by 15.4% since passage of the 1995 law and that firearm suicides in Missouri had increased by 16.1% since it repealed permit regulations in 2007.

According to a press release for the study, states with laws requiring a special license or permit for someone to own a gun, “tended to have lower suicide rates than states without such laws after controlling for differences across state populations.”

Study author Daniel Webster, ScD, MPH, reasoned that “suicidal thoughts are often transient, which is why delaying access to a firearm during a period of crisis could prevent suicide.”

Jim Barrett, author for TheTruthAboutGuns.com, however, argued “the theory that the restriction or elimination of guns would have a positive effect on the overall suicide rate in the U.S. does not hold up under scrutiny.”

Between 1999 and 2013 there were 270,237 suicides by firearm in the United States, totaling 58% of all gun deaths for that period. During that same time period, firearms were the number one method of suicide, accounting for 52.1% of all suicides.

 

Sources:

Cassandra K. Crifasi, John Speed Meyers, Jon S. Vernick, and Daniel W. Webster, “Effects of Changes in Permit-to-Purchase Handgun Laws in Connecticut and Missouri on Suicide Rates,” Preventive Medicine, Oct. 2015

Eureka Alert, “Suicide-by-Firearm Rates Shift in 2 States after Changes in State Gun Laws,” eurekalert.org, Sep. 1, 2015

Jim Barrett, “Mythbusting: We’d Have Fewer Suicides with More Gun Control,” www.thetruthaboutguns.com, Oct. 11, 2013