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The Impact of State-Level Firearms Laws on Homicide Rates by Race/Ethnicity

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Awardee County
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2016, $610,000)

Seventeen Black people are killed intentionally by firearm every day in the U.S. In 2014, the rate of firearm homicide among Blacks was more than 10 times higher than among Whites. Despite this disparity, there is virtually no research that investigates the impact of state firearm
policies on homicide rates by race/ethnicity. This leaves policy makers and criminal justice practitioners with insufficient data to adopt the most effective strategies for not only bridging
this gap but reducing firearm-related homicides across all races and ethnicities. To determine which state laws are more effective at reducing Black, White, and Hispanic firearm-related homicides, we have assembled a team of internationally respected experts in firearm, public
health, and criminology research with extensive prior experience studying policing, community violence, domestic violence, health disparities, and the impact of state policies on health and safety. Together our multi-disciplinary team has already developed the largest existing
database of information on state-level homicide rates, state-level gun policies, and other factors related to homicide. During the first year of the project, we propose to augment this database using information from the FBI, the CDC, and the Westlaw Next collection of state laws in order to expand and deepen coverage across a 25-year period (from 1991-2015); specifically we aim to address the limitations of prior studies by accounting for race/ethnicity,the relationship of victim to perpetrator (i.e. stranger vs. non-stranger homicide), differences in the types of firearm laws and provisions ncluded/excluded, variations in police enforcement of the same laws state-by-state, and other variables. In the second year of the project, we will analyze these data to determine how various state-level firearm laws affect White, Black, and Hispanic populations. We will use rigorous evaluation methods that specifically address the
limitations of previous studies, including problems related to omission of key variables. During the third year of the project, we will disseminate results via annual and final reports, published
scientific papers, user-friendly summaries of our findings for the lay public, and web access to our final database for fellow researchers. The findings of this research will help policy makers and criminal justice practitioners to develop effective strategies to reduce the disparity in
firearm homicide experienced by different races/ethnicities and to lower homicide rates among the population as a whole.

Date Created: September 18, 2016