States with more gun laws have fewest firearm deaths

States with the most laws regulating firearms, including Massachusetts and New York, have the lowest gun-death rates from homicides and suicides, according to a study published by the American Medical Association.

Physicians and researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard University used data on gun fatalities collected by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and surveys of states’ laws compiled by advocacy groups such as the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence to find a statistical relationship between gun regulation and death prevention.

“States that have the most firearm laws have the fewest firearm deaths, and it’s a very direct association,” said Eric Fleegler, lead author of the study published Wednesday in JAMA Internal Medicine. Further studies are needed to draw any conclusions about cause-and-effect relationships, the researchers said.

The article appeared as a debate unfolds in Congress and state legislatures over whether to require more background checks and ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines in the aftermath of the Newtown massacre. The Dec. 14 shooting inside a Connecticut elementary school left 26 dead, including 20 children, and sparked a national outcry about gun violence.

Louisiana, which has only one gun law, had the highest gun- fatality rate, 18 per 100,000 people, the study showed.

New York averaged 19 firearms laws from 2007 through 2010, the fifth-most among the 50 states. The state had the fourth- lowest gun-death rate, with 4.8 per 100,000, the study found. It trailed Hawaii, Massachusetts and Rhode Island in that category. New York City reported a record-low number of homicides last year. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who advocates stricter gun control, is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.

Illinois, whose biggest city, Chicago, has seen a wave of gun violence, ranked ninth in laws and 11th among the states in firearms deaths, with an average 7.9 per 100,000. Chicago recorded 506 homicides last year and drew national attention when a 15-year-old girl, Hadiya Pendleton, who had performed at President Obama’s inauguration, was killed Jan. 29, about a mile from Obama’s South Side home.

Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy told the Illinois House Judiciary Committee last month that his department “recovers more guns than any municipality in the United States of America, year in and year out.”

A person answering the phone at the Fairfax, Va., press office of the National Rifle Association, the nation’s biggest gun-rights lobby, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment about the study. The person said it was the organization’s policy not to identify its phone representatives by name.

Hawaii, which ranked sixth among the states with 16 laws, had the lowest rate, 2.9 gun-fatalities per 100,000, the study found. Massachusetts, with the most firearms laws, had a gun- fatality rate of 3.4 per 100,000.

South Dakota was an anomaly. It had only two gun laws, yet its rate of 8.2 gun fatalities per 100,000 ranked below the national median of 9.9, according to the study.

Researchers tallied and scored the states on how many of 24 key gun regulations they had on their books, then split the states into four groups based on the number of laws they had enacted.

When they compared states with the most laws with those that have less than two, rates of homicide and suicide by gun were 42 percent less in states with the most laws, said Fleegler, a pediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital and professor at Harvard Medical School.

In the four-year period studied, the U.S. experienced 121,084 deaths from guns, averaging more than 30,000 a year.

In 2010 guns were responsible for 68 percent of the 16,259 homicides and 51 percent of the 38,364 suicides, the study reported, citing CDC data. In 2005, the CDC estimated costs from fatal and nonfatal firearm injuries at $711 million in medical care and $40.5 billion in lost work and productivity, the study said.

More in Local News

Shock from WSU suicide ripples through Snohomish County

Roughly 1 in 10 seniors, sophomores and 8th-graders said they had attempted to take their own lives.

New leaders coming to county, state political parties

Hillary Moralez of Bothell takes over as chair for the Snohomish County Democratic Party.

Mom and brother turn in suspect in Stanwood robberies

The man is suspected of robbing the same gas station twice, and apologizing to the clerk afterward.

$1,000 reward for info on who killed an eagle near Snohomish

After being shot, the raptor was treated at the Sarvey Wildlife Center but died overnight.

Possible bobcat sighting keeps Snohomish students inside

The creature was spotted on the campus of Valley View Middle School around noon.

Derrick “Wiz” Crawford, 22, is a suspect in the homicide of his roommate. (Edmonds Police Department)
Roommate suspected in Edmonds killing found hiding in closet

Police had been searching for him for 10 days before locating him at a house in Everett.

Stabbing in Everett follows dispute between brothers-in-law

The victim, 54, was hospitalized. The suspect, 29, had not been apprehended Thursday.

Camano Island man gets 18 years for role in drug ring

He was convicted of helping lead a drug distribution network in four Washington counties.

Lake Stevens man missing since beginning of January

Jason Michael Knox White hasn’t used his credit card or withdrawn money from his bank since then.

Most Read