Key Findings

The essays below summarize RAND's findings on what is and isn't known about the likely effects of gun policies.

  • Visitors stand in line outside the U.S. Supreme Court

    Essay

    Gun Policy in America: An Overview

    Americans are often divided on how to improve gun policies. Our research suggests that, among gun policy experts, these divisions are not primarily due to disagreements about what policies should achieve. Instead, the experts disagree on what the real effects of gun policies will be. This essay summarizes what is known and where new information could help build consensus about how to improve U.S. gun policies.

  • Hand gun

    Essay

    What Science Tells Us About the Effects of Gun Policies

    To create fair and effective gun policies, we need to understand how they affect outcomes of concern to a range of stakeholders, including gun owners, communities struggling to contain crime, the gun industry, and those concerned with preventing suicide, among others. In this essay, we describe how RAND researchers conducted a large-scale, critical review of available studies and summarized the findings.

  • Two sides balancing on a tightrope working on a problem

    Essay

    In Search of Common Ground: Expert Judgments on Gun Policy Effects

    Both groups of experts we surveyed favored laws that they believed would reduce homicides and suicides. Indeed, these groups appeared to be in complete agreement that reducing deaths should be the primary objective of gun policies. What they disagreed on was which laws would have those effects. Read more about where experts agreed and disagreed.

  • A pile of prohibited firearms that were handed in under the Australian government's buyback scheme, July 1997.

    Essay

    U.S. Gun Policy in a Global Context

    Some of the most compelling evidence for a causal connection between gun prevalence and suicide or homicide rates comes from the experiences of three countries—Australia, Switzerland, and Israel—where changes in law or policy may have led to marked shifts in gun ownership rates. This essay summarizes the evidence from these countries.

  • Map of the United States created with guns and dots.

    Essay

    New Approaches to Understanding the Effects of Gun Policies

    As part of the Gun Policy in America initiative, we developed resources that help researchers overcome common problems that we found with existing studies, as well as support improved analyses and understanding of gun policies. Read more about these resources.

  • Photo collage of bullets and a gun

    Essay

    Improving Gun Policy Science

    The Gun Policy in America project consistently found inadequate evidence for the likely effects of different gun policies on a wide range of outcomes. This does not mean that the policies have no effects, but instead reflects the relatively minimal investment that has been made to better understand these effects. We recommend ways to improve this body of research.