In Missouri, Fewer Gun Restrictions and More Gun Killings

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  • #16505
    Vitalogy
    Participant

    Jean Peters Baker, the county prosecutor here, stood at her desk poring over Facebook photographs of young men posing with guns. One wore a grinning mask and pointed his gun at the camera. Another clasped guns in each hand. A third was laughing uproariously, his finger on the trigger of an assault rifle.

    “This is our reality,” Ms. Peters Baker said, gesturing toward the pictures from recent investigations. “I’m not talking about my uncle who still lives on a farm in central Missouri and uses a gun for hunting.”

    In the past decade, Missouri has been a natural experiment in what happens when a state relaxes its gun control laws. For decades, it had one of the nation’s strongest measures to keep guns from dangerous people: a requirement that all handgun buyers get a gun permit by undergoing a background check in person at a sheriff’s office.

    But the legislature repealed that in 2007 and approved a flurry of other changes, including, last year, lowering the legal age to carry a concealed gun to 19. What has followed may help answer a central question of the gun control debate: Does allowing people to more easily obtain guns make society safer or more dangerous?

    Research by Daniel Webster, the director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, found that in the first six years after the state repealed the requirement for comprehensive background checks and purchase permits, the gun homicide rate rose by 16 percent, compared with the six years before. In contrast, the national rate declined by 11 percent over the same period. After Professor Webster controlled for poverty and other factors that could influence the homicide rate, and took into account homicide rates in other states, the result was slightly higher, rising by 18 percent in Missouri.

    © Whitney Curtis for The New York Times Jean Peters Baker, the prosecutor for Jackson County, Mo. New federal death data released this month for 2014 showed a continuation of the trend, he said. Before the repeal, from 1999 to 2006, Missouri’s gun homicide rate was 13.8 percent higher than the national rate. After, from 2008 to 2014, it was 47 percent higher. (The new data also showed that the national death rate from guns is now equal to that of motor vehicle crashes for the first time since the government began systematically tracking it.)

    Other measures suggested that criminals had easier access to guns after the permit law was repealed. Professor Webster analyzed data from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and found that the share of guns that were linked to crimes soon after they were bought doubled in the state from 2006 to 2010. The portion of guns confiscated by the police in Missouri that had been originally bought in the state — ordinarily a very stable statistic — rose to 74 percent last year, from 56 percent before the law changed.

    In interviews, researchers cautioned that causation is hard to prove, and that just because the gun homicide rate rose after 2007, it does not mean the repeal was the reason. Still, most of them were convinced that the data suggested an effect.

    A few were not. Gary Kleck, a professor of criminology at Florida State University in Tallahassee, said he doubted Missouri’s permit law had ever blocked many criminals from getting guns. Gun homicides in California rose after the state banned one category of guns, so-called junk guns, he said, suggesting tighter laws were not safer. Professor Webster noted that the rise in California disappeared with more years of data.

    © Whitney Curtis for The New York Times Valerie Dent next to a mural in St. Louis for her sons, James and Steven, who were fatally shot last year. Opponents point out that California, where the San Bernardino gun attacks happened, has some of the strictest laws in the country. But supporters say that mass shootings, while attention-grabbing, make up less than 2 percent of the more than 30,000 gun deaths in the United States each year. They say tougher gun laws help reduce the slow, steady stream of killings that pile up quietly in communities like this one, often poor, often of color, and cut down on suicides, which make up two-thirds of all gun deaths in the United States.

    Rigorous scientific research on universal background checks is sparse, in part because federal funding for it is practically nonexistent. A number of states toughened their laws after the 2012 mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., but the changes were too recent to evaluate the effects. Missouri was the only state in recent history to repeal a law requiring background checks and permits for all handgun sales, and Professor Webster said he was drawn to study the aftermath because many have considered that type of law to be the most effective at keeping guns from people who should not have them. In 1995 Connecticut enacted a law similar to the one Missouri repealed, and gun homicides declined by 40 percent in the 10 years that followed, he found.

    A small group of public health experts who study firearms — including Garen J. Wintemute of the University of California, Davis, Philip J. Cook of Duke University, and Professor Webster — recently received private grants to begin evaluating the effect of such changes in other states.

    Missouri began changing its gun laws after the Republican Party won control of the State House in 2002 for the first time in years. But many Democrats also supported relaxing the restrictions.

    The changes tapped into profound differences between rural and urban Americans about guns. The state legislature is predominantly white, rural and suburban, but the effects of the laws it makes are felt largely in Missouri’s cities, where gun homicides are one of the biggest causes of death for young black men. In Professor Webster’s analysis, the gun homicide rate rose by 20 percent in metropolitan areas of Missouri, but was up by just 1.6 percent in rural areas. However, gun suicides, largely a rural, white problem, rose by about 16 percent in the years after the repeal, he found.

    New federal death data released this month for 2014 showed a continuation of the trend, he said. Before the repeal, from 1999 to 2006, Missouri’s gun homicide rate was 13.8 percent higher than the national rate. After, from 2008 to 2014, it was 47 percent higher. (The new data also showed that the national death rate from guns is now equal to that of motor vehicle crashes for the first time since the government began systematically tracking it.)

    Other measures suggested that criminals had easier access to guns after the permit law was repealed. Professor Webster analyzed data from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and found that the share of guns that were linked to crimes soon after they were bought doubled in the state from 2006 to 2010. The portion of guns confiscated by the police in Missouri that had been originally bought in the state — ordinarily a very stable statistic — rose to 74 percent last year, from 56 percent before the law changed.

    http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/in-missouri-fewer-gun-restrictions-and-more-gun-killings/ar-BBnMSo2?li=BBnb7Kz

    Missouri is proving that more guns equal more gun deaths and more crime with guns. Are Missouri residents safer now? I think not.

    #16506
    Amus
    Participant

    What I’d like to know is who the hell authorized this study?

    Didn’t Congress put a halt to studies on gun violence?

    http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/12/08/458952821/congress-still-limits-health-research-on-gun-violence

    We can’t be allowed to know that shit!
    We might want to do something about it!

    #16509
    missing_kskd
    Participant

    Yes, me too.

    Everyone knows Americans just don’t do fact based, data driven policy…

    #16515
    Vitalogy
    Participant

    Stats will win over time. It’s just a matter of how bad it will get before change happens

    #16516
    skeptical
    Participant

    More facts? The NRA just can’t catch a break these days.

    #16529
    Dxer1969
    Participant

    The NRA is a stinking legal terrorist organization if you ask me! Bet most of these road raging jerks drive pickups and own several guns. UGH!

    #16532
    Vitalogy
    Participant

    Nice rack!

    #16533
    missing_kskd
    Participant

    Lulz

    #16535
    Dxer1969
    Participant

    You guys are too good!

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