New analysis on gun control shows increased gun restrictions have very minimal desirable effects

A gun control analysis found that gun control laws had hardly any desirable outcomes, such as decreasing homicides and suicides. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Chris Enloe

A new analysis of thousands of gun control studies found that firearm restrictions had minimal, in any, effects on decreasing violent crime, homicides, suicides and unintentional deaths.

Democrats routinely argue that strict gun control regulations would lower rates of gun violence.

What did the study find?

The RAND corporation, which conducted the extensive study, found that only 63 percent of gun control studies testing specific firearm restrictions found a desirable outcome, such as reductions in homicides, suicides and other violent crime.

RAND analyzed thousands of gun control studies over the course of two years and spent more than $1 million on the study. They sought to determine how gun policies “affect outcomes, such as suicide rates and hunting participation” — and the results couldn’t have been more unequivocal.

“Most of the effects that we were looking for evidence on, we didn’t find any evidence,” Andrew Morral, a behavioral scantiest who lead the study, told NPR.

For example, the analysis found that policies targeting mass shootings, hunting and recreation, defensive gun use and officer-involved shootings were “inconclusive, at best.”

Meanwhile, the study found relatively strong evidence that “child-access prevention laws” — such as laws that force gun owners to store firearms under lock and key in a household with minors — likely decreased suicides, unintentional deaths and violent crime. In addition, the study found relatively minor evidence to correlate stand-your-ground and concealed carry laws with increased deaths and violent crime.

In addition to analyzing thousands of studies, RAND interviewed 95 firearm policy experts, both Republican and Democratic. In general, the experts agreed that reducing suicides, homicides and deaths should be the primary factor when considering gun restrictions, while privacy concerns, preventing mass shootings and recreational use are secondary.

Morral said the expert reaction was a surprise.

“I think people on either side of gun policy debates think that the other side has misplaced values — or that it’s a values problem, in any case. But that’s not what we find. We find people prioritize the same things in the same order,” he told NPR. “Where they disagree is on which laws will achieve those those objectives. So this is a disagreement about facts. And the facts are sparse.”

Are increased firearm restrictions on the horizon?

Maybe. In the wake of the Parkland school shooting, millions are rallying for tighter restrictions on firearms, arguing more restrictions will thwart the next mass shooting.

And while the science proves that isn’t true, some restrictions, such as a bump-stock ban or raising the minimum age for long gun purchases, seem almost inevitable.