Trauma, Burn, Critical Care
Restrictive Firearm Laws Are Associated with Decreased Firearm-Related Suicides
INTRODUCTION: There were 23,854 suicides by firearms in 2017 in the US, accounting for 60% of all gun deaths. Studying firearm-related mortalities is vital to reducing preventable gun deaths. This study aims to determine the relationship between state firearm laws and suicides with firearms.
METHODS: This ecological study used data from the CDC Wide-Ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research (CDC WONDER) on decedents 18 years and older who died from intentional self-harm with firearms (X72-X74) between 2009 and 2018. The outcome was the rate of mortalities per 100,000 persons by state. Exposures of interest included the presence of background checks on private sales, mandatory waiting periods, and prohibited possession for persons with domestic violence restraining orders or mental health red flags. Welch’s t-tests compared the mean mortality rates in states with each firearm law to states without each law.
RESULTS: There were 208,621 deaths from intentional self-harm with firearms from 2009 to 2018. Laws for background checks, mandatory waiting periods, and prohibited possession were associated with lower mortality rates for all firearm types (p < 0.05). Only background checks and waiting periods for individual firearms were associated with lower mortality rates in suicides by handguns and by large firearms (p < 0.05).
CONCLUSION: Background checks and mandatory waiting periods correlated with fewer suicides by all firearms and specific firearm types. This reduction in suicides could be due to firearm laws directly preventing people from accessing guns or existing concurrently with robust suicide prevention measures. Further research should be directed to understand how firearm laws can help reduce suicide rates.© 2022 by the American College of Surgeons. Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.