21 October 2017

Who Carries Guns? Does It Work?

The NRA is wrong on the fact and the bad policies it has advance kill thousands of Americans every year. People who carry loaded handguns are a clear and present danger to the American public. Nine empirical studies published in the last three years establishes many key facts relevant to the gun control debate.
Roughly 3 million Americans carry loaded handguns with them every day, primarily for protection, according to a new analysis of a national survey of gun owners published in the American Journal of Public Health.

The information comes from the National Firearms Survey, which the authors – a group of public health experts at the University of Washington, Harvard University and the University of Colorado – administered in 2015. The nationally representative survey was conducted online with 4,000 U.S. adults, including more than 1,500 who identified themselves as handgun owners. The survey asked handgun owners how often they carried a loaded handgun on their person when away from home.

The peer-reviewed study concluded that roughly 9 million people carried loaded handguns at least once a month, including 3 million who carried them every day. People who carry handguns at least once a month were disproportionately likely to be conservative men between the ages of 18 and 29 residing in Southern states.

Four out of 5 of them said that personal protection was the primary reason they carried a loaded handgun. Nearly 6 percent reported being threatened by another person with a firearm at least once in the past five years. And 1 out of 5 reported carrying a concealed handgun without a permit, even in states where such a permit is required. . . . .

Many states have broadened their concealed-carry policies in recent years. Before 2003, for instance, Vermont was the only state where a person could legally carry a concealed handgun without a permit. Since then, 11 other states have passed laws eliminating permit requirements for concealed carry. Many other states have passed laws making it easier to obtain concealed-carry permits. The result has been an explosion in the number of concealed-carry permit holders in the United States, from 2.7 million in 1999 to 14.5 million in 2016. That figure doesn’t account for individuals living in states without permitting requirements. . . .

Examining crime data from 1991 to 2015, the study, conducted by a team of researchers from Boston University, Children’s Hospital Boston, and Duke University, found that “shall-issue concealed carry permitting laws were significantly associated with 6.5% higher total homicide rates, 8.6% higher firearm-related homicide rates, and 10.6% higher handgun-specific homicide rates compared with may-issue states.”

The study also offered an explanation for why earlier studies, using data primarily from the 1990s and earlier, showed different results. Demand for handgun permits was relatively modest in earlier decades. But during the concealed-carry boom of the 2000s, demand for handguns soared. Gun manufacturers’ output increased dramatically.
From here.

Some other research:

* Another survey in 2015 also adds information about how many guns are purchased without background checks:
The national survey of firearms ownership reported by Miller and colleagues provides much-needed estimates of the household ownership of guns and the transactions by which private citizens acquire their firearms. For guns acquired in the 2 years before this nationally representative survey in 2015, 22% of the transactions (whether a purchase, a gift, an inheritance, or other) did not include a background check. . . . the proportion of transactions involving a retail dealer has not changed much, if at all, since the earlier survey—Miller and colleagues estimate 64%, compared with the NSPOF [1994] figure of approximately 60% (with some uncertainty due to inconsistent responses and sampling error). A few states have closed the private-sale loophole since then, whereas others have repealed their background check requirement. . . . [C]onsiderable evidence indicates that gang members and other active offenders obtain their guns from private transactions rather than from retail dealers

*Miller, M., Hepburn, L., Azrael, D., "Firearm acquisition without background checks. Results of a national survey." 166 Ann Intern Med  233-239 (2017) (this is down from 40% in 1994, per the NSPOF, which was prior to implementation of the Brady Act).

* Cook P.J., Parker S.T., Pollack, H.A., "Sources of guns to dangerous people: what we learn by asking them.", 79 Prev. Med 28-36 (2015).

* Another study:
In the USA, homicide is a leading cause of death for young males and a major cause of racial disparities in life expectancy for men. There are intense debate and little rigorous research on the effects of firearm sales regulation on homicides. This study estimates the impact of Missouri's 2007 repeal of its permit-to-purchase (PTP) handgun law on states' homicide rates and controls for changes in poverty, unemployment, crime, incarceration, policing levels, and other policies that could potentially affect homicides. Using death certificate data available through 2010, the repeal of Missouri's PTP law was associated with an increase in annual firearm homicides rates of 1.09 per 100,000 (+23%) but was unrelated to changes in non-firearm homicide rates. Using Uniform Crime Reporting data from police through 2012, the law's repeal was associated with increased annual murders rates of 0.93 per 100,000 (+16%). These estimated effects translate to increases of between 55 and 63 homicides per year in Missouri.
Webster, D., et al., "Effects of the repeal of Missouri's handgun purchaser licensing law on homicides." 91 J. Urban Health 293-302 (2014).

* Mental health and access to guns:
Analyses from the National Comorbidity Study Replication provide the first nationally representative estimates of the co-occurrence of impulsive angry behavior and possessing or carrying a gun among adults with and without certain mental disorders and demographic characteristics. The study found that a large number of individuals in the United States self-report patterns of impulsive angry behavior and also possess firearms at home (8.9%) or carry guns outside the home (1.5%). These data document associations of numerous common mental disorders and combinations of angry behavior with gun access. Because only a small proportion of persons with this risky combination have ever been involuntarily hospitalized for a mental health problem, most will not be subject to existing mental health-related legal restrictions on firearms resulting from a history of involuntary commitment. Excluding a large proportion of the general population from gun possession is also not likely to be feasible. Behavioral risk-based approaches to firearms restriction, such as expanding the definition of gun-prohibited persons to include those with violent misdemeanor convictions and multiple DUI convictions, could be a more effective public health policy to prevent gun violence in the population.
Jeffrey W. Swanson, et al., "Guns, Impulsive Angry Behavior, and Mental Disorders: Results from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R)" 33 (2-3) Behavioral Sciences & The Law 199-212 (June 2015).

* Gun use in self-defense:
To describe the epidemiology of self-defense gun use (SDGU) and the relative effectiveness of SDGU in preventing injury and property loss. 
Data come from the National Crime Victimization Survey for 2007–2011, focusing on personal contact crimes. For property loss, we examined incidents where the intent was to steal property. Multivariate analyses controlled for age, gender of offender and victim, if offender had a gun, urbanicity, and thirteen types of self-protective action. 
Of over 14,000 incidents in which the victim was present, 127 (0.9%) involved a SDGU. SDGU was more common among males, in rural areas, away from home, against male offenders and against offenders with a gun. After any protective action, 4.2% of victims were injured; after SDGU, 4.1% of victims were injured. In property crimes, 55.9% of victims who took protective action lost property, 38.5% of SDGU victims lost property, and 34.9% of victims who used a weapon other than a gun lost property. 
Compared to other protective actions, the National Crime Victimization Surveys provide little evidence that SDGU is uniquely beneficial in reducing the likelihood of injury or property loss.
David Hemenway and Sara J. Solnick, "The epidemiology of self-defense gun use: Evidence from the National Crime Victimization Surveys 2007-2011", 79 Preventive Medicine 22-27 (October 2015).

Suicide and gun ownership:
Importance Suicide is the second leading cause of death among US adolescents, and in-home firearm access is an independent risk factor for suicide. Given recommendations to limit firearm access by those with mental health risk factors for suicide, we hypothesized that adolescents with such risk factors would be less likely to report in-home firearm access. 
Objectives To estimate the prevalence of self-reported in-home firearm access among US adolescents, to quantify the lifetime prevalence of mental illness and suicidality (ie, suicidal ideation, planning, or attempt) among adolescents living with a firearm in the home, and to compare the prevalence of in-home firearm access between adolescents with and without specific mental health risk factors for suicide. 
Design, Setting, and Participants Cross-sectional analysis of data from the National Comorbidity Survey–Adolescent Supplement, a nationally representative survey of 10 123 US adolescents (age range, 13-18 years) who were interviewed between February 2001 and January 2004 (response rate 82.9%). 
Exposures Risk factors for suicide, including a history of any mental health disorder, suicidality, or any combination of the 2. 
Main Outcomes and Measures Self-reported access to a firearm in the home. 
Results One in three respondents (2778 [29.1%]) of the weighted survey sample reported living in a home with a firearm and responded to a question about firearm access; 1089 (40.9%) of those adolescents reported easy access to and the ability to shoot that firearm. Among adolescents with a firearm in home, those with access were significantly more likely to be older (15.6 vs 15.1 years), male (70.1% vs 50.9%), of non-Hispanic white race/ethnicity (86.6% vs 78.3%), and living in high-income households (40.0% vs 31.8%), and in rural areas (28.1% vs 22.6%) (P < .05 for all). Adolescents with firearm access also had a higher lifetime prevalence of alcohol abuse (10.1% vs 3.8%, P < .001) and drug abuse (11.4% vs 6.9%, P < .01) compared with those without firearm access. In multivariable analyses, adolescents with a history of mental illness without a history of suicidality (prevalence ratio [PR], 1.13; 95% CI, 0.98-1.29) and adolescents with a history of suicidality with or without a history of mental illness (PR, 1.20; 95% CI, 0.96-1.51) were as likely to report in-home firearm access as those without such histories. 
Conclusions and Relevance Adolescents with risk factors for suicide were just as likely to report in-home firearm access as those without such risk factors. Given that firearms are the second most common means of suicide among adolescents, further attention to developing and implementing evidence-based strategies to decrease firearm access in this age group is warranted.
Joseph A. Simonetti, MD, MPH, et al., "Psychiatric Comorbidity, Suicidality, and In-Home Firearm Access Among a Nationally Representative Sample of Adolescents" 72(2) JAMA Psychiatry 152-159 (February 2015).

Mass shootings and gun ownership:
Objective: Model the global distribution of public mass shooters around the world. 
Method: Negative binomial regression is used to test the effects of homicide rates, suicide rates, firearm ownership rates, and several control variables on public mass shooters per country from 1966 to 2012. 
Results: The global distribution of public mass shooters appears partially attributable to cross-national differences in firearms availability but not associated with cross-national homicide or suicide rates. 
Conclusion: The United States and other nations with high firearm ownership rates may be particularly susceptible to future public mass shootings, even if they are relatively peaceful or mentally healthy according to other national indicators.
Lankford, Adam, "Public Mass Shooters and Firearms: A Cross-National Study of 171 Countries" 31(2) Violence and Victims; New York 187-199 (2016).

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