Challenging a major political taboo, Johns Hopkins University researchers contend that tighter gun control laws will save lives and reduce violence, particularly if “high-risk” people such as alcoholics and youths under age 21 are barred from buying or having firearms, the Baltimore Sun reports.
In a report by the Bloomberg School of Public Health, they call for broadening current state and federal prohibitions on who can own guns while also closing loopholes in the regulation of gun sales.
“When you deny high-risk people access to guns, the evidence shows that saves lives,” said Daniel Webster, director of Hopkins’ Center for Gun Policy and Research and the report’s lead author. “And when you regulate all gun sales, fewer guns get diverted to criminals.” Only five states bar residents under 21 from possessing handguns, Webster said. While studies to date have failed to find these laws put a dent in juvenile murders or suicides, he argued that such limits are warranted because homicide rates are highest among 18- to 20-year-olds. “We do not allow that group to legally drink beer, but in 45 of 50 states, that group can legally own a handgun,” he said. The report argues for extending prohibitions already in effect against those convicted of crimes. It also recommends regulating gun designs to make them safer and less likely to be used in a crime or shooting spree — by, for instance, limiting ammunition capacity to 10 rounds.