Gun Background Check Laws May Have Little Effect: Study

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Comprehensive Background Check (CBC) policies may not affect firearm background checks, according to a new study by the University of California-Davis Violence Prevention Research Program (VPRP) and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Of the three states that recently expanded comprehensive background check policies (Washington, Colorado and Delaware) to include all gun transfers, including those among private parties, only Delaware showed an overall increase in firearm background checks.

Washington and Colorado had no changes, which the study authors say suggests that compliance and enforcement were incomplete.

Although 35 percent to 40 percent of all firearm transactions in the U.S. are between private parties, federal law does not require background checks for transactions among private parties, the study said.

“The overwhelming majority of all firearms used for criminal purposes, some 80 percent, are acquired through private party transactions,” wrote Alvaro Castillo-Carniglia, lead author of the study and a VPRP postdoctoral research fellow.

“By expanding background checks to include private-party transfers, there is a higher chance that these policies will make it harder for felons and other prohibited persons to acquire firearms and commit violent crimes.”

Researchers estimated the difference in the monthly rate of background checks per 100,000 people for handguns, long guns and both types combined using data from January 1999 through December 2016.

In Delaware, CBC policy enactment resulted in a 25 percent increase in background checks for handguns and a 34 percent increase for long guns, but Washington and Colorado experienced no overall increase in background checks.

“Unregulated firearm transactions are a public health problem,” Castillo-Carniglia concluded.

“Comprehensive background check policies can play an important role in preventing the negative health and social consequences of violence.”

A full copy of the report can be found here.

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