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‘Assault weapon’ bans don’t lower homicide rates, new study says

A rack of various modern sporting rifles, mostly AR-15s, in Gallenson's Gun Shop, located in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. (Michael McConville/Wikimedia Commons)
April 04, 2019

A new study conducted by Boston University School of Public Health discovered homicide rates do not decrease from banning “assault weapons” and high capacity magazines.

The study headed by Michael Siegel from Boston University and Harvard gun control advocate David Hemenway set out to study 10 forms of gun control in four states in order to discover if a certain form of gun control was more or less effective than others in reducing rates of homicide and suicide, according to BU Today, Boston University’s news publication.

“Although I completely understand the desire to ban assault weapons, I just don’t see empirical evidence that such bans have any substantial impact on homicide rates. These bans are most often based on characteristics of guns that are not directly tied to their lethality,” Siegel said.

“Laws regulating the sale of assault weapons are unlikely to have a large impact on homicide rates, because these weapons are used in only a very small proportion of homicides. The vast majority of firearm homicides in the United States are committed with handguns,” he added.

The study, titled “The Impact of State Firearm Laws on Homicide and Suicide Deaths in the USA, 1991-2016: a Panel Study,” was published in the  Journal of General Internal Medicine. The researchers conducted 1,222 homicide analyses and 1,300 suicide analyses.

It did not find any significant relationship between changes in gun ownership and homicide or suicide rates.

This finding goes against anti-gun advocates’ argument which says guns at home will increase the risk of death in that home.

What the study did find was that universal background checks were associated with a 15 percent reduction in homicide rates, stricter violent misdemeanor laws were associated with an 18.1 percent reduction in homicide rates, and “shall issue” laws were associated with a nine percent increase in homicide rates.

What statistics show is most murders caused by guns involve handguns and a large number of annual deaths by a gun are caused by suicide.

According to 2016 FBI data, of the 11,004 murders committed with firearms, 7,105 of them were with handguns, while just 374 were with rifles of any type.

Gallup polling data indicated that opinions about gun control have shifted over the past 60 years and that the majority of U.S. citizens do not support banning handguns. The most support for gun control comes from the 18-29 age group in the U.S.