Mar 2, 2018
This report synthesizes the available scientific evidence on the effects of various firearm policies on firearm deaths, violent crime, the gun industry, participation in hunting and sport shooting, and other outcomes. Based on this synthesis, the authors highlight policies whose effects are better supported by evidence and areas where more and better information could contribute to establishing fair and effective gun policies.
Updated Aug. 16, 2018 to correct minor errata on pp. 296-297.
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This report was superseded by a revised, updated edition in April 2020.
The RAND Corporation's Gun Policy in America initiative is a unique attempt to systematically and transparently assess available scientific evidence on the real effects of firearm laws and policies. Good gun policies require consideration of many factors, including the law and constitutional rights, the interests of various stakeholder groups, and information about the likely effects of different laws or policies on a range of outcomes. This report seeks to provide the third — objective information about what the scientific literature examining gun policy can tell us about the likely effects of laws. The study synthesizes the available scientific data on the effects of various firearm policies on firearm deaths, violent crime, the gun industry, participation in hunting and sport shooting, and other outcomes.
By highlighting where scientific evidence is accumulating, the authors hope to build consensus around a shared set of facts that have been established through a transparent, nonpartisan, and impartial review process. In so doing, they also illuminate areas where more and better information could make important contributions to establishing fair and effective gun policies.
Introduction and Methods
Evidence on the Effects of 13 Policies
Bans on the Sale of Assault Weapons and High-Capacity Magazines
Prohibitions Associated with Mental Illness
Lost or Stolen Firearm Reporting Requirements
Licensing and Permitting Requirements
Firearm Sales Reporting and Recording Requirements
Child-Access Prevention Laws
Surrender of Firearms by Prohibited Possessors
Minimum Age Requirements
Supplementary Essays on Gun Policy Mechanisms and Context
The Relationship Between Firearm Availability and Suicide
The Relationship Between Firearm Prevalence and Violent Crime
Firearm and Ammunition Taxes
Mental Health Care Access and Suicide
Education Campaigns and Clinical Interventions for Promoting Safe Storage
Restricting Access to Firearms Among Individuals at Risk for or Convicted of Domestic Violence or Violent Crime
Defensive Gun Use
The Effects of the 1996 National Firearms Agreement in Australia on Suicide, Violent Crime, and Mass Shootings
Summary of Findings and Recommendations
Summary and Conclusions
Methodological Challenges to Identifying the Effects of Gun Policies
Source Data Used to Produce the Forest Plot Figures