Gun suicide and homicide rates were about 25 percent lower when background checks on gun buyers were performed by local authorities as opposed to federal or state agencies, says a study by the Medical College of Wisconsin reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The study shows a patchwork of background check practices around the nation. In Wisconsin, checks are done on the state level; across the border in Iowa and Minnesota, they are done locally.
The researchers theorized that more in-depth, detailed records, especially those involving mental illness and domestic violence, are available to local authorities, resulting in more rejections of sales to potential buyers who might use a gun to kill themselves or someone else. “We believe when local agencies are involved, there may be more complete identification of people who should be disqualified,” said co-author Peter Layde, a professor of population health and co-director of the Injury Research Center at the Medical College. The Medical College study, which was published in the May issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, is the first to analyze differences among states in gun death rates based on background checks.