How To Reduce Gun-Related Deaths In America By Over 80%

In a Pittsburgh suburb called Wilkinsburg two gunmen ambushed a backyard party one Wednesday evening recently, killing five people and injuring three more in the attack.

The shooters are still on the loose, and the attack marked the 62nd mass shooting in 2016 according to

In just one week following that attack, 6 more people were killed and 35 more people were injured over the course of nine more mass shootings across America.

In the early Democratic debates, the issue of gun control was front and center after the San Bernardino attack in December and the massacre at the Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston in June.

On the other side of the aisle though, the Republicans refused to admit that any gun control laws would have changed anything.

They generally refuse to talk about gun control, and they continue to argue that the best way to reduce gun deaths in America, is to have everyone own more guns!.

And aside from pointing out the general absurdity of trying to reduce gun deaths by arming more people, it's been very difficult to prove that gun control is effective.

Perhaps more importantly, it's also been very difficult to figure out which gun control laws are actually effective in curbing gun deaths.

That's in large part because of the Dickey Amendment that the Republican Congress passed in 1996 on the behalf of the NRA.

The Dickey Amendment said plainly that "None of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control."

After last year's mass shooting at Umpqua Community College, former Congressman Jay Dickey told the Huffington Post: "I wish we had started the proper research and kept it going all this time. I have regrets."

It's good that Dickey has regrets about the amendment, but it doesn't change the fact that we've lost 20 years of gun violence research because of the unadulterated greed of gun manufacturers and the NRA's willingness to buy legislators like Dickey.

What the NRA and the Republican shills for the gun lobby in Congress really don't want you to know, is that it is possible to reduce gun deaths by passing sensible gun control legislation.

Researchers from the Boston University Medical Center just found that we can actually reduce gun deaths - by more than 80 percent! - if we just nationally expanded three gun laws that are already in place at the state-level in various states.

The research was published recently in the peer-reviewed British medical journal The Lancet, and according to lead author Bindu Kalesan, this study is the first to assess a broad array of gun laws and other relevant state-level data.

An international group of legal and public-health researchers constructed a cross-sectional, state-level dataset of firearm-related deaths for each state between 2008 and 2010.

The team counted firearm-related deaths in each state in 2010 and collected information about 25 state gun control laws that went into effect in 2009, as well as state-specific information including gun ownership rates, non-firearm homicide rates, and unemployment rates for all 50 states.

Then they used a statistical model to break down the association between those firearms laws and gun-related homicides, suicides, and overall deaths.

Nine of the twenty-five laws were actually associated with an increase in gun deaths.

That's because those laws are the so-called "Stand Your Ground" laws, like the one that George Zimmerman used to justify shooting and killing 17-year old Trayvon Martin back in 2012.

And that really shouldn't come as any surprise to anyone, it's a law that gives the green light for civilians to "shoot first, ask questions later".

Nine others of the 25 laws were associated with fewer gun deaths to varying degrees, and 7 laws had no significant impact on gun deaths.

The real takeaway from this research though, is that just three laws could prevent more than 80 percent of gun deaths, potentially dropping the rate of gun deaths from 10.1 per 100,000 people in 2010, to just 0.16 gun deaths per 100,000 if all three laws are implemented.

According to the research, laws that require firearm identification through ballistic imprinting or microstamping could reduce the risk of firearm deaths by 84 percent!

A mandatory background check the first time someone attempts to buy ammo could reduce the risk by 82 percent, and requiring universal background checks for all gun purchases could nationally reduce the risk of gun deaths by 61 percent.

If those numbers are accurate, immediately passing those three pieces of legislation nationally could save tens of thousands of lives in this year alone.

We know that the Republican party is anti-science, because it's the only political party in the developed world that rejects climate change despite the consensus of 100% of credible scientists.

But reality doesn't change or cease to exist just because the Republicans conveniently don't "believe" in scientific findings that might hurt the bottom lines of GOP donors and lobbyists.

And if Republicans truly want to be "pro-life," then they need to boldly break from their NRA donors who profit from death and killing.

They need to stop listening to the moneyed interests who fund their campaigns, and start listening to our scientists who say that gun violence is a public health epidemic, and also listen to the 80% of Americans who want stricter gun control legislation.

The science is pretty plain-spoken on this, and now we have an opportunity to save thousands of American lives.

Let's not miss this chance.

Let your legislators know that you're for common-sense gun regulations.


Lloyd Lutterman's picture
Lloyd Lutterman 8 years 14 weeks ago

If any actually want gun control, first step would be banning manufacturing guns...and the greedy will not let that happen

Hephaestus's picture
Hephaestus 8 years 14 weeks ago

Very sad that americans have misunderstood the 2nd amendment totally

DavidJ's picture
DavidJ 8 years 14 weeks ago

I used to be a big fan of Thom Hartmannn. And, in the last few years he has gotten further and further from reality. I will no longer go to ANY GunFree Zone becuase of the risk. Life is risky, Life is less risky when we all know that most people present have guns.

Just a fact.

Fewer people die when a a good person with a gun is present, when a bad person with a gun shows up,

NONE of your WISHING it was was otherwise will change that. Gun laws can only make good people more dead.

Johnnie Dorman's picture
Johnnie Dorman 8 years 14 weeks ago

LOL! This post by "Davidj" has to be a joke. Nobody can be this dumb, well, maybe a Donald Trump supporter can be this dumb. This guy's a grammar clueless fool that thinks Thom Hartmann's last name has three letter "N's."

"Fewer people die when fewer criminals and nut cases can buy guns."

UNC Tarheels's picture
UNC Tarheels 8 years 14 weeks ago

Thom Hartmann Chicago and New York have the toughest gun laws in the country but have all those illegally obtained guns. More background checks won't stop criminals from stealing guns or buying them on the black market. Responsible gun owners with Concealed Carry licenses don't walk around selectively shooting people. Criminals do! And they don't buy guns legally because background checks keep them from buying them legally. So you and Hilary keep on talking about taking guns and you will push the GOP into the White House!

darbuki13 8 years 14 weeks ago

Tou can't keep guns out of the hands of criminals and/or nut cases
Sadly, the 2nd amendment gives them the right to bear arms also.

UNC Tarheels's picture
UNC Tarheels 8 years 14 weeks ago

Amen David J! Gun free havens are a fallacy! Making good people helpless, won't make bad people harmless! In my town the local DA did a survey of robbery suspects why they targeted college campuses. Thier answer was college students are not allowed to carry guns on school grounds.

c-gull's picture
c-gull 8 years 14 weeks ago

I noticed that during 2011 there were 11,000 homocides involving firearms in America but only 158 gun deaths in Canada. How did Americans get so fearful?

Going back to my own history-I grew up in a town where hunting was very much part of the culture. My boyhood ambition was to get a summer job so I could buy a 12 gauge shotgun to hunt doves, quail and ducks. September 1st, the first day of hunting season saw multiple restaurants opening at 3am in the morning to feed the hunting population the traditional ham and eggs breakfeast. The line of car tail lights was miles long leaving Bakersfield, CA to the northern dove hunting grounds. We'd sometimes have large social gatherings at the local dance hall to cook and eat our game. Those of us that hunted wanted only to have a good quality hunting firearm and never wanted anything to do with anti-personnel weapons.

As time went on and the hunting grounds shrunk due to urbanization and corporate farming and there was less demand for hunting guns. The gun manufacturers felt the pinch and starting building hunting firearms in foreign countries but even the cheap labor was not enough to support the industry. So just after the Vietnam war Colt Industries released the AR-15 to the open market as a kind of war surplus "good deal". It certainly was not a hunting weapon and even the one time poster child for the NRA, P.O. Ackley, a firearms, ballistics and ammunition expert said that the AR-15 was not a legitimate sporting arm and "could only interest those grown up sportsmen with adolescent tendencies". Thus began the era of the anti-personnel gun.

The years that followed saw a marked reduction in hunting and the availablilty of hunting arms and the upswing of anti-personnel weaponry. Advertising propaganda switch from killing deer with a such and such model gun to using guns, especially pistols and assault weapons for personal protection. The propaganda worked. It convinced people that they needed a gun for protection from other people. People became fearful of "bad guys", the firearms manufacturers stayed in business, and as guns multiplied as did the poorer class of people, more people were killed.

Legislatures started making gun laws designed carefully to continue to allow gun manufacturers to stay in business and which emphasized technological changes to weapons(supposedly to make them safer or capable of being used by the owner only) and various forms of registration. I believe there is even a law in California which requires the owner of a high velocity compressed air, pellet gun to register the air tanks used to fuel the air rifle. Does not make much sense does it? It's kind of legislating around the real problem while protecting the sacred cow of capitalism.

It appears that the combination of firearms sales propaganda coupled with this era of economic stress has left more people with tendencies toward depression to think that life is no longer worth living. They don't identify social problems with the real corporate villains but strike out at those close at hand or perhaps those that represent a certain symbolism or metaphor that pushes their buttons.

Many social science authors (Leonard Doob, Karen Horney, Jacques Ellul) have stated that the continued escalation of propaganda has serious side effects. Few in our society take them seriously. Max Weber said that the continued bureaucratization of society would lead to what we have been witnessing. "A polar night of icy darkness for human kind".

When people start believing their own propanganda like the republican party has-more serious problems erupt. They attempt to run on their own ideology and in a population that has gotten used to propaganda as the gospel, they have been "successful".

UNC Tarheels's picture
UNC Tarheels 8 years 14 weeks ago

no it doesn't they cannot buy them from a licensed dealer the background check stops them the police arrest felons for posessesing guns. Ask any police officer if you don't believe me. No NRA members or responsible gun owners are responsible for mass shootings but get the blame from politicians and the anti gun crowd. Just as all Muslims are NOT terrorists not all gun owners are shooting police officers or other people unless it is self defence from a robber or home invader.

UNC Tarheels's picture
UNC Tarheels 8 years 14 weeks ago

2nd Amendment

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

2nd Amendment explained

A well regulated Militia- civilians who band together in times of emergency to form an Army of irregulars.

Being necessary to the security of a free state- not as in the 'fifty states,' but as in the state of Being Free.

The right of the people- law-abiding citizens.

To bear and keep arms- arguably any unclassified weapon which can be wielded by an individual soldier.

Shall not be infringed- shall suffer no dilution upon which civilian capability to thwart tyranny may hinge.

RepubliCult's picture
RepubliCult 8 years 14 weeks ago

Since a "Well regulated militia is NOT necessary for the security of a free state...", the 2nd amendment is meaningless: It is false. It is a lie.

We've not used militia's for over 150 years. So there's no meaning in the amendment.

IM Jussayin 8 years 14 weeks ago

@ThomHartman It sounds to me like you're engaging in the kind of reasoning that gives ammunition (pardon the pun) to the gun lobby. Let's start with your figure of 10.1/100,000. If the ballistics registration & micro-engraving reduce that by 84% that would reduce it to 1.6/100,000.

Ammo background checks account for 82% so that takes it down to .29/100,000 and the mandatory background check makes it .1044/100,000. The problem with this is those percentages, by your own admissions are possibilities, not definite, and not even probabilities. Besides that, anyone with a basic understanding of math knows those percentages would not act linearly, one on the next. In other words, if you enacted law that required micro-engraving and it worked as promised, the gun-death rate would go down to the rate mentioned above. By enacting the second measure you wouldtn't reduce it by another 82% and here's why.

Let's say the study found three more things you could do to reduce it by a mere 50% each. The 1st would reduce it to .052/100,000, the 2nd .0261, and the 3rd to .013. If this actually worked you would reduce death by firearms to less than 400/year in the U.S. That's 8 for every state in the union. What's at work here is the law of diminishing returns.

The one thing that needs to happen is one federal law that calls for all three of these things and replaces or supplants all state laws. As long as Republicans insist on having a republic as opposed to a representative democracy, this will never happen. Just as the founding fathers we hear so often trotted out by regressive politicians never foresaw that gun control would become an issue, they also didn't forsee the AK-47 & M-4.

As long as we keep putting the autonomy of individual states above the general welfare of the people, things won't change, Lest we forget, that's how the civil war started, and the rebels keep reminding us that, "The South shall rise again!"

So, you see, I am on your side, but please don't use false statistics in an attempt to make a point. If all three of those things together only decreased gun related deaths by 50% they would still be well worth doing, and not evenone of them requires any kind of registration,

IM Jussayin 8 years 14 weeks ago

@DavidJ There is nothing, and I mean NOTHING that supports this, so I wish you and others would quit calling it a fact.

Willie W's picture
Willie W 8 years 14 weeks ago

I have yet to see on the news, a good guy with a gun interrupting a mass shooting. Except for when the police finally arrive. For what ever reason, the bad guy has the only gun in the house.

Kilosqrd's picture
Kilosqrd 8 years 14 weeks ago

Reply to #11

I suppose you considered yourself an informed individual on this subject. My suggestion to you is to finish school before making dumb comments. Oh, and pick up a copy of the U.S. Constitution and the BoR and study them along with their history.

Intermittent Instigator's picture
Intermittent In... 8 years 14 weeks ago

I'm afraid of guns

(and hope this comment won't be censored).

RFord's picture
RFord 8 years 14 weeks ago

One correction: George Zimmerman's defense was based on common sesf defense according to his lawyer, Mark O'Mera. The stand your ground law would not work in this case because Travon Martin got George Zimmerman on the ground where he did not have the option to walk away long before George got his gun out and shot Travon Martin.

Bob MacBain's picture
Bob MacBain 8 years 14 weeks ago

Reply to comment #10

I disagree with UNC Tarheels interpretation of the meaning of militia. In Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, the Congress is: "To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions".

Further, the Congress is "To provide for organizing, arming and disciplining the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress".

This section of the Constitution indicates that "well regulated militias" are established by the federal government and are to be controlled by both the federal and state governments. As I read the Constitution, militias are formal, government-regulated fighting units, not just civilians who band together to fight in times of emergency.

KCRuger's picture
KCRuger 8 years 14 weeks ago

@MacBain: You don't know what you are talking about, taking small portions of text which is out of context of the whole. It has been litigated in court, and is obvious for several reasons that "militia" refers to all able-bodies males age 17-45 who are mentally competent to use a weapon properly.

Hephaestus's picture
Hephaestus 8 years 14 weeks ago

The Founders did not have a "standing army"

Hence the 2nd amendment

Now the usa has the most powerful army in the world

If I'm wrong I'll stand corrected

Gun lobby propaganda based on "fear" and "paranoia" keeps usa buying guns

People do not need to possess weapons to destroy each other in a free country with a huge army

George Carlin's picture
George Carlin 7 years 45 weeks ago

The 2nd is also about citizens being able to keep and bear arms against a tyrannical government.

Most ignorant individuals think the 2nd is about the right to hunt. It is not. It is to protect civilians rights to own weapons similar to the ones used by the government, so the people can rise up and retake the government, if necessary.

George Carlin's picture
George Carlin 7 years 45 weeks ago

May I ask why you are afraid of firearms?

George Carlin's picture
George Carlin 7 years 45 weeks ago

One of the reasons the USA remains free, is because of the 2nd acknowledging the right of free citizens to own firearms.

I have only seen the anti rights zealots propaganda. I have never seen any "gun lobby propaganda". Can you post a cite for your assertion?

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