New UAB study finds gun laws of neighboring states have an impact on gun deaths in Alabama

Updated: Sep. 15, 2020 at 4:51 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Alabama’s gun laws are stronger than Georgia, Mississippi, and Tennessee. New research from UAB finds that those weaker laws in neighboring states correlate to more gun deaths in Alabama.

Researchers found that stronger state gun policies on background checks, dealer and buyer regulations, and gun trafficking laws are connected to decreased firearm deaths, but when neighboring states didn’t have the same rules, the protective effects were undermined.

“If we could get that sense of let’s work together. If a cluster of states worked in tandem to get sensible gun policies on the book I think these states would all be safer, we could all see a reduction in gun homicide, gun suicides and so forth,” says Bisakha Sen, Ph.D., Blue Cross Blue Shield Endowed Chair in Health Economics, Department of Health Care Organization and Policy in the UAB School of Public Health and senior author on the study.

The study looked at 578,022 firearm deaths from 2000 to 2017. The team found that failing to take weaker laws in surrounding states into account also made a states' gun laws appear less effective.

She says whether it’s gun laws or regulations for fighting the coronavirus pandemic, more working together will lead to better outcomes.

"To make laws even more efficient we need cooperation between the states. One of the things that bothers me so much is we seem to be getting on this each state on it’s own and we don’t have a cohesive sense of we are such much better if we work in cohesion together. Be it gun violence or covid,' says Dr. Sen. “I am really hoping this paper gets that message out, neighbors do matter and we want to be good neighbors.”

The study was published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine.

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