A recent study by Princeton researchers Patrick Sharkey and Megan Kang has revealed that stricter gun laws implemented by 40 states between 1991 and 2016 have resulted in a significant reduction in gun-related deaths. The study found that these laws prevented approximately 4,300 gun deaths in 2016 alone, accounting for about 10% of the total gun deaths nationwide. States with more stringent regulations, such as background checks and waiting periods, consistently reported fewer gun-related fatalities.
Sharkey, who has spent years studying violent crime, admitted that the results were surprising. He had previously been skeptical about the impact of stricter gun laws on reducing violent crime. However, the study’s findings have led him to conclude that the issue of gun violence is not insurmountable and that significant progress has been made through public policy.
The study also highlighted the effectiveness of state-level changes, demonstrating that even seemingly minor policies, such as safety-training requirements or age restrictions, can have a cumulative impact. Sharkey emphasized that while no single policy can completely eliminate the circulation of guns, a combination of regulations can significantly reduce gun-related deaths.
However, the study also noted a worrying trend: the progress made in reducing gun violence appears to have stalled since 2016. Many states have relaxed their gun laws in recent years, and gun sales have surged, particularly during the Covid pandemic. Sharkey pointed out that these trends — looser laws, increased firearm purchases, and a rise in gun deaths — are likely interconnected.
Read more at The New York Times.