Three Separate 2018 Studies Found Zero Evidence That Universal Background Checks Prevent Gun Deaths

Of all gun policies, universal background checks receive the strongest support from Americans on both left and right, as indicated by many surveys over the years. However, things aren’t always popular for good reasons. Case in point: Over this past year, three separate studies investigating the effects of comprehensive background checks (CBCs) have come up with a whole lot of nothing to show for it.

Back in November, we reported on one of these studies, conducted using data from the anti-gunner’s paradise, California. In that study (journal publication here), researchers studied firearm homicide and suicide rates in California before and after the Golden State passed its CBC law. Researchers waited 10 years to study the effects of this law, but in the end, “The study found no net difference between firearm-related homicide rates before and during the 10 years after policy implementation.” Oops.

Two other studies published in 2018 back up those results.

A study funded by the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research found that comprehensive background check policies in urban areas are correlated, if anything, with an increase in firearm homicides. That is not thought to be a causal relationship, but rather a number consistent with a rise in homicide rates in general. According to this study, in order to have any potential violence-mitigating effect, background checks have to be paired with permit-to-purchase laws (to compensate for how difficult the background check system is to enforce). But that’s a whole other can of worms.

Yet another study, out of UC Davis, compared firearm homicide and suicide rates in Indiana and Tennessee after each of the two states repealed their comprehensive background check laws (in 1981 and 1994 respectively). After comparing the data from those states to methodically constructed control groups in 11 states with CBC policies in place, the researchers found “no evidence of an association between the repeal of comprehensive background check policies and firearm homicide and suicide rates in Indiana and Tennessee.

Put that in your arsenal.


  1. avatar Ed Schrade says:

    ” comprehensive background checks ” are just a way to create a gun registration database for all sales of firearms. This, as we know, will only effect the law abiding gun owners. mix in the database with delays to purchases and you have numerous encroachments to our civil rights. The database will be used for the so called Red Flag laws which are just unconstitutional search and seizures. Why would law enforcement or anyone else obey an illegal law ?

    1. avatar Binder says:

      OK, want a honest answer?

      The #1 way by far that criminals get their firearms was the result of a straw purchase. Yes, some firearms are stolen, but that is NOT the majority. This is something the AFT use to admit to, but the result was they ended up looking stupid because they could not prosecute anyone.

      It is almost impossible to convict someone of a straw purchase unless they ADMIT it under current law. However, in theory, you can in fact convict someone if there is an “universal” background check combined with “lost and stolen”.

      Now do I think it will cut back on gun running, perhaps. But I will not be holding my breath.

      1. avatar jim says:

        “The #1 way by far that criminals get their firearms was the result of a straw purchase. ”

        That’s definitely incorrect. There are not enough “straw” people to supply all the criminals with legally purchased guns. Not to mention the fact that the person who bought will be held responsible if its used in a crime. And those crimes can indeed be prosecuted, and are… You need to update your information, this is tv talk…The stuff you hear from talking heads on the tube who don’t really know what they are saying yet they are confident as hell they are correct.

        1. avatar frank speak says:

          a recent poll of prisoners revealed that practically none of them went to gun shows or bought on the internet…their “private purchases” came out of the trunk of a car….these guns were just about all straw purchased at one time…and then subsequently reported stolen..if they even bothered to do that….guns like this change hands quite a bit until they are confiscated or disposed of to avoid prosecution…but there is no shortage of relatives, girlfriends or dependent junkies willing to buy a gun for someone who can’t…..

      2. avatar strych9 says:

        “The #1 way by far that criminals get their firearms was the result of a straw purchase. Yes, some firearms are stolen, but that is NOT the majority.”

        The Bureau of Justice Stats says that 172,000 guns are stolen each year in burglaries and another 60,000 are stolen in retail/shipping theft. There are other groups that put the total number at closer to 400,000.

        To date I’ve seen no data that would suggest that straw purchases account for more than 232,000 illicitly acquired firearms per year. Even if we assume half of the stolen guns get sold to law-abiding folks who don’t know it’s stolen we still need more than 130,000 straw purchases to “make up the majority” of illicit guns.

        According to the Giffords Law Center, hardly a group to seriously underestimate negative stats on guns, they can only come up with about 26,000 guns being straw purchased each year which is less than 1/4 of 1/2 of the total guns stolen. In other words the numbers seem to indicate that something like 1/8th of “illicitly trafficked guns”, to use Giffords’ parlance, are straw purchases.

        1. avatar frank speak says:

          you only know what you’re aware of…which lends itself to meaningless projections…do you really think people are going to be forthcoming with this information when it might incriminate them?….yes some guns are legitimately owned and then stolen in burglaries from homes and cars…many more people own pistols today than was the case in the past….but these thefts are incidental and sporadic…when a criminal really wants a gun…frequently of high quality…he just has someone buy it for him…many states have no registration….so the ATF can only forward trace to the original buyer…who’s off the hook if he (or she) can claim it was lost or stolen…something your not even required to do in many places…..

        2. avatar DrewN says:

          LOL, why would a criminal care about a “high quality firearm”? And care enough to invest significant capitol into one when odds are it’s going to just be waved around semi-loaded,unloaded or mis-loaded? Do you spend a bunch of unnecessary money on tools for your job? “Hey, I’m going to rob a couple of liquor stores, I’d better go down to the LGS and pick up one of those 226 Legions” is something that has never happened.

        3. avatar Fred Lead says:

          The problem with this data is that people lie. One must necessarily trust that a stolen gun is actually a stolen gun. The fact 40% of stolen guns are only reported after the gun is found at the scene of a crime, and an investigator comes knocking, would point strongly to the argument they are not actually stolen but straw purchases and the theft claim is a defense of the straw purchaser. There is no way to definitively know a gun was actually stolen and not trafficked, that is the nature of fraud. This is also consistent with inmate interviews on both the sources of guns used in crimes and what they do with actually stolen guns. Guns that are actually stolen are quickly sold back into the legal market and the proceeds go toward untraceable guns from straw purchases and bad apple FFL dealers. Personally stealing a gun presents a far greater risk of a trace and pinning additional charges than a “fraud gun”.

          Giffords and the ATF would love for people to believe that everyday gun owners are the problem through the theft argument, but it’s another misleading lie of an argument.

    2. avatar frank speak says:

      some law enforcement people won’t enforce these laws….but there are plenty more that will…foolish to base your hopes on that supposition…

    3. avatar LarryinTX says:

      Methinks this thread is nonsense. “Comprehensive Background Checks” and “Universal Background Checks” sound completely different, the article addresses CBC, comments seem to think that is UBC, all of it is silliness mixing up two completely separate things and pretending they’re the same.

  2. avatar possum says:

    Well duh. Most gun deaths do not occur with a legally purchased firearm.

    1. avatar Geoff "Bring the EDIT button back, will ya, TTAG?" PR says:

      “Most gun deaths do not occur with a legally purchased firearm.”

      I’m not so sure on that one.

      Most gun deaths are suicides, and I doubt they steal their guns…

      1. avatar frank speak says:

        lots of ways to kill yourself…a gun is just one option…and that group is predominately male…females often opt for other measures…

        1. avatar ollie says:

          Japan has a higher suicide rate than the US and almost no privately owned firearms. Where there’s a will, there’s always a way. Confiscating all the guns in the US would not be likely to change our suicide rate much, if at all.

        2. avatar Greg says:

          I had 2 friends, both pro-gun. Both committed suicide within the past 10 years. Neither used a gun, either one of them certainly could have.

    2. avatar frank speak says:

      actually they do if it was legally purchased at one time and then disappears into the street…of course some guns are stolen from shipments in transit or from gun shops..which means they can skip the straw purchase and go straight to illegal street dealers…there’s a black market out there that is thriving…most criminals…particularly in high crime areas…have little trouble getting their hands on a gun…and drug trafficking demands you have one just to survive…

  3. avatar Yarbles says:

    “What good fortune for governments that the people do not think.”
    Adolf Hitler

  4. avatar joel says:

    FACTS!?! Who cares about FACTS???!?!!?!?

  5. avatar Pmac says:

    And this is a surprise, why? But confuse them with the facts.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:


      Notice the quote:

      … researchers found “no evidence of an association between the repeal of comprehensive background check policies and firearm homicide and suicide rates in Indiana and Tennessee.“

      In other words anyone who is intent on doing something (whether that “something” is crime or suicide) will find a way to do it.

      And in other news, water is wet.

  6. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

    Facts are not the stock and trade of the Left,useful idiots are.

  7. avatar Ken Shabby says:

    Well, history proves socialism doesn’t work, but that doesn’t stop lib idiots from pushing it.

    1. avatar Enuf says:

      Anti-gun attitudes are stupid, foolish, filled with misplaced emotional reactions and lousy science. But it is not Socialist.

      Socialists do not want gun control, they want the common person to have all the guns necessary to be able to fight off standing armies paid for by capitalists. Karl Marx made that perfectly clear, including stating that the common man should own cannon.

      When self described Socialist governments turn to confiscating guns, they have instantly stopped being Socialist. They are then authoritarian, dictators, various forms of tyranny. They may claim the title of Socialist but they are lying. Just as they lie when the claim to be a Democracy or a Republic.

      The Socialism of Marx, Engles and their ilk is evil for other reasons, not because of gun control.

      1. avatar Mike says:

        I think you entirely missed his point, but nice rant.

        1. avatar Enuf says:

          It’s not a rant, just history and fact. Liberals are not pushing Socialism. And Socialism, for all its failings and evil endings, was never anti-gun.

          Some liberals are pushing the northern European concept of substantial social services coming from government, for which they use a term that confuses the crap out of Americans. They should invent a different term. Especially Bernie Sanders.

  8. avatar Unrepentant Libertarian says:

    Most think the idea of universal background checks are a good idea because they think that these laws only apply to purchases. Unfortunately the way most laws are written, any transfer of a firearm (Such as a temporary loan to a friend.) must go through an FFL and be recorded by the state to be legal. There are a lot of hidden traps within these types of laws. I believe that most people will just practice “Irish Democracy” when these laws get passed!

    1. avatar frank speak says:

      especially when it comes to long guns, sporting weapons and such…it’s the pistols that raise the most concern….

  9. avatar Cruzo1981 says:

    You mean to tell me that criminals intent on killing keep on killing with firearms despite laws that say they cannot have them?!?!?!!?😱😱😱😱😱😱😱😱gasp…

    1. avatar frank speak says:

      guess they feel that by disarming all of us the problem will go away…but as long as guns are manufactured and sold to anyone…police, military etc…criminals will find ways to get them…just like clyde barrow got that BAR…a gun the military wanted to keep for themselves….

  10. avatar W says:

    “Of all gun policies, universal background checks receive the strongest support from Americans on both left and right, as indicated by many surveys over the years.”

    This is because there is a definitional problem. When a pollster says “universal background checks,” he means checking with NICS before a transaction. When a Democrat says “universal background checks,” he means putting a record of you and your firearm in a federal database.

    Of course, there is another definition problem. We understand “problem” as “problem.” Democrats, in this case, read it as “advantage.”

    1. avatar frank speak says:

      agreed…to them it’s just part of a graduated process as they work their way to end game..

  11. avatar Ark says:

    It’s almost like the public are, generally, raging ignoramuses who support things based on emotional appeal and sloganeering.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:


      You are very close with your comment.

      Actually, I would put it at about 50% of the public falls under the category of “raging ignoramuses who support things based on emotional appeal and sloganeering”.

  12. avatar AlanInFL says:

    it is another myth that got busted. But no one is going to hear it. The left wants to control everyone.

  13. avatar Dan says:

    BFD. Pointless. Waste of time and resources doing such studies. To the Commie Demonrat left and their
    brain dead minions that vote for them facts are IRRELEVANT unless they can be used to support their agenda. If they can’t they are ignored or shouted down. The ONLY people such studies sway are ALREADY
    swayed by reality and support personal rights.

  14. avatar little horn says:

    color me/us not surprised

  15. avatar Chip in Florida says:

    “…three separate studies investigating the effects of comprehensive background checks (CBCs) have come up with a whole lot of nothing to show for it.”

    Well the answer is obvious! More studies must be conducted!


  16. avatar burley says:

    Well, DUH!

  17. avatar GS650G says:

    Police in chicago charge one in seven murders. I’d like to see how they plan to enforce any UBC laws and what priority they are going to put on them.

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