Wednesday, June 22, 2016
Mandatory Background Checks: Commonsense Gun Control?
“Everyone knows that mandatory background checks for all gun purchases is just ‘common sense.’”
It used to be common sense that heavier objects fall faster than light objects. Then Galileo did something bizarre: experiments that demonstrated that common sense on this is wrong.
Fortunately we have run this experiment. Eight states adopted mandatory background laws for either all firearms transfers or all handgun transfers between 1960 and 2012. (Why those years? Consistent and reliable murder rate data from the FBI starts in 1960.) So if this is just common sense that such laws disarm criminals, wouldn’t you expect murder rates to fall (at least a little) in those states?
In the following graphs blue is the murder rate/100,000 people for each year. The orange line shows the average for the five years before the mandatory firearms background check law took effect, and the five years after. In some states, yes, murder rates fell. Where you see an asterisk next to the state name, it means the change was statistically significant: likely the change was not random,. All murder rate data comes from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports system.
But in a number of states, murder rates rose after the new law: