TABLE 7-6 Quasi-Experimental Studies of Gun Laws and Suicide


Areas and Time Period Compared

Gun Law


Reuter and Mouzos

Australian states,


1996 gun buy-back

Whole population

Ludwig and Cook (2001)

50 states + DC


1994 Brady act

21-54 years


Lott and Whitley (2000)

50 states + DC


Safe storage laws

Other gun laws

Children and adolescents 0-19

Cummings, Grossman, Rivara, and Koepsell (1997a)

50 states + DC


Safe storage laws

Children under 15


The committee draws the following conclusions on the basis of the present evidence:

  1. States, regions, and countries with higher rates of household gun ownership have higher rates of gun suicide. There is also cross-sectional, ecological association between gun ownership and overall risk of suicide, but this association is more modest than the association between gun ownership and gun suicide; it is less consistently observed across time, place, and persons; and the causal relation remains unclear.

  2. The risk of suicide is highest immediately after the purchase of a handgun, suggesting that some firearms are specifically purchased for the purpose of committing suicide.

  3. Some gun control policies may reduce the number of gun suicides, but they have not yet been shown to reduce the overall risk of suicide in any population.

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