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out of UC Davis, compared firearm homicide and suicide rates in Indiana and Tennessee after each of the two states repealed their comprehensive background check laws (in 1981 and 1994 respectively).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.