One of the perennial arguments that I've seen made by gun control opponants in my arguments about guns these past months is that gun control legislation won't, apparently a priori and by definition, work. Of course, there's actually a lot of data out there to the contrary, but how do you publicize it?
Well, that leads me to this post, and however many subsequent posts I can manage on this topic. Whenever possible, I will list one or more studies on the topic of firearms control that demonstrates, to a greater or lesser degree, the ways in which gun control is effective. I'll provide links to full texts whenever possible, but in a lot of cases I may only be able to provide links to abstracts. Either way, I invite readers to go and read the studies for themselves. Feel free to leave (civil!) responses in the comments.
First up then:
The purpose of this study is to statistically and empirically evaluate the effectiveness of the gun control laws that have been adopted by states and municipalities. States are divided into two groups: states with no restrictions as to gun use and states with restrictions (e.g., waiting periods, license, etc.). Multiple linear regression models are used to evaluate the relationship between the number of gun related deaths in 1990 and sets of determinants which include state laws and regulations governing the use of firearms. The study results indicate that gun control laws have a very mild effect on the number of gun related deaths while socioeconomic variables such as a state's poverty level, unemployment rate and alcohol consumption, have significant impact on firearm related deaths. These findings suggest that any reduction in resources spent on social programs tied to the Crime Bill may be counter-productive.
Results from past research on the effectiveness of gun control legislation have been mixed. This study posits that one of the reasons for these conflicting results is the use of individual laws as the major variable. Instead, this study uses a holistic and comprehensive measure of state gun control laws, grouping states into extreme and lax gun control states. A multivariate linear regression analysis is used to investigate the relationship between a set of determinants, including the holistic gun control measure, and firearm deaths per 100,000 inhabitants of each state. The results show that comprehensive gun control legislation indeed lowers the number of gun-related deaths anywhere between one to almost six per 100,000 individuals in those states that have the most extreme gun-related legislation. Our study also reveals that socioeconomic and law enforcement factors play equally important roles in containing gun-related fatalities. These findings suggest that gun-related deaths have a variety of causes and that attempts to legislate a solution to this problem will need to be correspondingly complex and multifaceted.
These are the first two peer-reviewed studies I was able to find on a quick search of the issue. I intend to continue digging and post what I find here. But what these studies indicate is that a) gun control legislation is effective, but it is clearly not a panacea. Other social factors enter into the equation and must be dealt with alongside reasonable gun-control legislation.
Far from supporting the contention that gun control laws are ineffective then, then evidence seems to suggest that they do exactly what they are intended to do: Reduce firearm injuries and deaths. But by themselves, they won't result in massive overall improvements. That leads me to conclude that legislation is necessary, but is only part of the larger puzzle of solving the problem of gun-related violence.
As I find peer-reviewed studies that pertain to the issue, I'll post them here, along with any studies that offer a dissenting point of view. Again, feel free to offer civil commentary, including links to peer reviewed studies that offer the other side of the argument.