States With Loose Gun-Carry Laws Tied to Higher Death Rates

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States that have some of the tightest laws regulating who can carry a concealed handgun have significantly lower rates of handgun homicides than states with more lax handgun permitting laws, says a new study from Boston University published in the American Journal of Public Health, reports WBUR radio. A central question in the debate about how to reduce gun violence is whether laws that make it easier to carry a concealed handgun lead to more or fewer homicides. One side contends that the more guns out there, the safer we are, because they deter crime. The other side say the more guns in public, the less safe we are. 

A 25-year study from the Boston University School of Public Health concludes that states that make it tougher to carry a concealed weapon have lower rates of handgun homicides. “I think what this study suggests is that this trend toward increasingly lenient concealed carry laws is actually having an adverse impact on the public’s health because it’s increasing the risk of homicide,” said lead author Dr. Michael Siegel. All 50 states allow people to carry concealed handguns, but there are three big differences in the permitting process. Twelve states require no permit at all to carry a concealed handgun. Nine states give police chiefs wide discretion over whether to issue a permit. Twenty-nine states also require permits but give police chiefs little or no discretion. As long as applicants meet certain criteria, they shall get a permit. These are called “shall issue” states. The study found that handgun homicide rates in these less restrictive “shall issue” states were 10.6 percent higher than homicide rates in more restrictive “may issue” states.

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