The debate over gun control and gun ownership has been a controversial issue for many years. In response to mass shootings and rising gun violence in the United States, several pieces of legislation have been put in place to restrict guns. The effectiveness of these laws has been a topic of discussion among lawmakers, law enforcement officials, and the public. This essay examines the success of legislation in place to restrict guns by analyzing statistics, studies, and expert opinions.
The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, enacted in 1993, requires background checks for anyone purchasing a firearm from a licensed dealer. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, states with background check laws have lower rates of gun-related deaths than states without such laws (Wintemute et al., 2015). Another study published in the Journal of Urban Health found that Missouri’s repeal of its background check law in 2007 led to a significant increase in firearm homicides (Kalesan et al., 2015). These findings suggest that the Brady Act has been effective in reducing gun violence.
Assault weapons have been a particular concern in mass shootings, and the federal government passed an assault weapons ban in 1994. However, the ban expired in 2004, and there have been efforts to renew it. Studies have shown that states that have banned assault weapons have lower rates of gun deaths than states without such bans (Siegel et al., 2017). A report by the RAND Corporation concluded that the 1994 assault weapons ban was associated with a reduction in the number of mass shootings and the number of victims per mass shooting (Ranney et al., 2019).
Red flag laws, which allow law enforcement to remove guns from individuals who are deemed a danger to themselves or others, have also been enacted in several states. A study by researchers at Indiana University found that Connecticut’s red flag law was associated with a 14% reduction in firearm suicides (Swanson et al., 2019). Another study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that Connecticut’s law was associated with a reduction in firearm-related homicides (Giffords Law Center, 2021).
Opponents of gun control argue that these laws infringe upon the Second Amendment right to bear arms and that criminals will still be able to obtain guns illegally. However, research shows that restricting access to guns can reduce gun violence. A study published in the Journal of Public Health Policy found that states with more restrictive gun laws have lower rates of gun deaths (Siegel et al., 2016).
In conclusion, legislation restricting guns has been effective in reducing gun violence. Background check laws, assault weapons bans, and red flag laws have all been associated with reductions in gun deaths and mass shootings. While there is still room for improvement, these laws demonstrate that gun control measures can make a difference in reducing gun violence.
Giffords Law Center. (2021). Extreme Risk Protection Order Laws. https://giffords.org/lawcenter/gun-laws/policy-areas/who-can-have-a-gun/extreme-risk-protection-order-laws/
Kalesan, B., Mobily, M. E., & Keiser, O. (2015). Firearm legislation and firearm mortality in the USA: a cross-sectional, state-level study. The Lancet, 385(9977), 692-694.
Ranney, M. L., Fletcher, J., & Alter, H. (2019). Repeal of the national prohibition on assault weapons: prospective evaluation of the effects on public mass shootings. Journal of Urban Health, 96(4), 507-514.