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

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2020
13 pages
This report presents the methodology and findings of a study that assessed the differential impact of state firearm laws on homicide rates among White, Black, and Hispanic populations.
The issues addressed were 1) whether there is heterogeneity in the effect of state firearm laws on homicide rates by race/ethnicity; and 2) the extent to which any differences in the impact of firearm laws by race/ethnicity can be explained by contextual differences in homicide victimization across urban compared with non-urban settings, rather than to differences among racial groups per se. For both research objectives, the project analyzed the relationship between a set of state firearm laws and homicide rates disaggregated by race/ethnicity, urbanicity, or both for the period 1991-2017. The methodology involved compiling a novel database of state firearm laws that covered 134 provisions across 14 categories for all 50 states during 1991-2017. Currently, the database has been updated to be current through 2019. The study used a quasi-experimental panel design that accounted for differences among states in the enactment of firearm-related laws over time. Using a negative binomial regression with year and state fixed effects and a range of state-related control variables, the study examined the link between state gun laws and homicide rates stratified by race/ethnicity. This produced the first ever estimates of the impact of state firearm laws on homicide among Blacks and Hispanics compared with Whites. The study's major finding was that permit requirements for purchasing or possessing firearms and strict requirements on who can obtain a concealed-carry permit were associated with lower homicide rates among both the White and Black populations. Laws prohibiting firearm possession by people convicted of violent misdemeanors reduced homicide rates among Black and Hispanic populations. 4 tables and 3 references

Date Published: April 1, 2020