On SAGE Insight: State Efforts to Keep Guns from High-Risk Persons

Article title: Background Checks for all Gun Buyers and Gun Violence Restraining Orders: State Efforts to Keep Guns from High-Risk Persons

From The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics

Despite an upsurge of public interest in gun violence prevention, the U.S. Congress has been unable to overcome resistance by a vocal minority to enact new gun laws. State legislation poses opportunities for making it more difficult for high-risk persons to purchase or possess firearms. State Efforts to Keep Guns from High-Risk Persons purchase or possess firearms include universal background check (UBC) and gun violence restraining order (GVRO) laws. UBC laws can reduce both homicide and suicide rates. States with laws requiring background checks of all buyers are unevenly distributed throughout the U.S., with a greater density of these laws in the northeast and western states. Currently 18 U.S. states go beyond federal law and require a background check for all handgun sales, whether from a licensed dealer or unlicensed seller. After Colorado adopted a UBC law in 2013, the number of background checks conducted by private sellers for sales occurring at places other than gun shows steadily increased. California enacted a GVRO law in 2014. Data are emerging to suggest the effectiveness of GVRO-type laws at averting suicides and providing an entryway to services. Keeping guns from high-risk persons is a proven violence prevention strategy. With more than 36,000 gun deaths in the U.S. in 2015 alone, additional legal innovation as well as political will to act are needed. Read more…

Abstract

There were more than 36,000 firearm-related deaths in the U.S. in 2015. Under federal law, a background check is required only for gun purchases from licensed dealers. Research suggests that some persons prohibited from owning a gun turn to private sellers, including those identified online, to attempt to obtain a firearm. State-level approaches to make it more difficult for high-risk persons to State Efforts to Keep Guns from High-Risk Persons purchase or possess firearms include universal background check (UBC) and gun violence restraining order (GVRO) laws. UBC laws, on the books in 18 states as of the end of 2016, can reduce both homicide and suicide rates. After Colorado adopted a UBC law in 2013, the number of background checks conducted by private sellers for sales occurring at places other than gun shows steadily increased. GVRO laws give law enforcement and families the authority to petition a court to temporarily remove firearms from an individual who presents a danger to himself or others during times of crisis, regardless of whether that person has been diagnosed with a mental illness. California enacted a GVRO law in 2014. Data are emerging to suggest the effectiveness of GVRO-type laws at averting suicides and providing an entryway to services.

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Article details
Background Checks for all Gun Buyers and Gun Violence Restraining Orders: State Efforts to Keep Guns from High-Risk Persons
Jon S. Vernick, Ted Alcorn, Joshua Horwitz,
First Published April 20, 2017
DOI: 10.1177/1073110517703344
From The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics

 

     
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