Research shows that state laws requiring background checks to obtain a license to purchase a handgun – sometimes called permit-to-purchase licensing laws – are associated with fewer firearm homicides. Now, a new study suggests these gun laws reduce firearm homicide deaths by 14 percent in large, urban areas where about two-thirds of U.S. gun deaths occur.
Handgun licensing laws typically require anyone who wishes to purchase a gun to apply to a state or local law enforcement agency for a permit, contingent on passing a background check. In many states, applicants are also required to submit fingerprints. According to the results of this study, state laws that require only so-called comprehensive background checks, which are usually conducted by the gun seller or dealer and not law enforcement, are associated with a 16 percent increase in firearm homicides in the large, urban areas.
This study was conducted by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California, Davis. The results were published in the Journal of Urban Health.